BOSTON (AP) _ Hermit Bill Britt lost his makeshift home on public land Monday when authorities removed his belongings after a court order protecting his lean-to expired.

Britt, 52, a recluse who has lived on public land in the affluent Chestnut Hill area since 1969, said he was out ''on business'' when his mattress and plastic lean-to and other possessions were taken away by Metropolitan District Commission police.

The state for more than a year has tried to move Britt from the five wooded acres he has occupied adjacent to the Chesnut Hill Reservoir, the Evergreen Cemetery and Boston College.

The state has tried to find other housing for Britt, who is legally blind and lives on money he earns redeeming cans and bottles. He refuses welfare.

In May, state Appeals Court Judge Edith Fine issued a stay preventing authorities from removing Britt's things. The stay expired Friday.

Britt reiterated his intention to stay on the land.

''Maybe tonight there'll be just a sheet over my head. I am not going to leave. It's my home.''

It is not the first time Britt has lost his lean-to. In early May he went to New York City to appear on NBC's ''Late Night with David Letterman'' and returned to find his lean-to had been destroyed in a fire.

MDC spokesman Stephen Burgay said Britt's belongings were put into storage and that Britt could claim them. Britt will be removed from the land if he reconstructs the lean-to, Burgay said.