In 1860, a concerned tourist wrote to the London Times decrying the “foolish, vulgar and ruthless practice of the majority of visitors” to Stonehenge “of breaking off portions of it as keepsakes.” Today, taking a hammer and chisel to a Neolithic monument seems like obvious vandalism, but during the Victorian era, such behavior was not only common but expected.
For centuries, both locals and visitors had taken pieces of Stonehenge for use in folk remedies. As early as the 12th century, rumors of the stones’ healing properties appear in the writing of Geoffrey of Monmouth, and in 1707, Reverend James Brome wrote that their scrapings were still thought to “heal any green Wound, or old Sore.” In the 1660s, the English antiquarian John Aubrey reported a local superstition that “pieces or powder of these stones, putt into their wells, doe drive away the Toades.”
Eventually, tourists were not just taking from Stonehenge, but also leaving their mark, too. By the middle of the 17th century, tourist graffiti was appearing on the stones. The name of Johannes Ludovicus de Ferre—abbreviated “IOH : LVD : DEFERRE”—is etched, and so is the engraving “I WREN,” which may refer to Christopher Wren, the famed architect who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral.
You can read the whole article, which also gives an interesting history of Stonehenge’s ownership here on Atlas Obscura