“It was done out of good intentions,” Tor-Kristian Storvik, the archaeologist for the county where the vandalism took place, told the Telegraph. “They were trying to make it more visible actually, and I don’t think they understood how serious it was.”
The kids, who have not been identified, came forward and apologized for the vandalism after it was reported Friday. They could face criminal charges under the country’s Cultural Heritage Act, which protects archaeological and cultural sites.
The carving on the northern island of Tro is one of the country’s most famous historic sites and an important clue as to when people began skiing. But the art might be better known as the inspiration for designs used to promote the 1994 Winter Olympics.
The damage to the carving is most likely irreversible, Bård Anders Langø, mayor of a nearby town, told Norwegian paper the Local.
“It’s a tragedy because it’s one of the most famous Norwegian historical sites,” he said.
Although children can be told to look and not touch, keeping them from destroying valuable art across the globe has proven easier said than done.
In August 2015, a Taiwanese boy tripped into a $1.5 million painting, leaving a fist-sized hole. Even more cringe-worthy is a video of two small children gleefully destroying a work of art in the Shanghai Museum of Glass in May. Nearby, their parents recorded the chaos on their phones.
Perhaps there could be a silver lining to the loss of the Norwegian carving, however. A well-meaning woman brought much-needed tourism money to her small Spanish town after she botched a valuable fresco while attempting to restore it. Although the painting was destroyed, the church that owned the painting was able to raise more than $66,000 for a local charity with the proceeds from curious tourists.