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Motorbikes and 4x4s wrecking Welsh heritage sites
#1
A campaign has been launched to crack down on illegal off-road bikers who are wrecking North Wales heritage sites. Moel y Gaer hillfort is just one of a number of historic locations across North Wales under siege from bikers and 4x4s carving up the countryside.
Now the Heather and Hillforts project has launched a 'Don't leave home without it' campaign to fight back.
Project leaders want farmers, ramblers and others who enjoy the countryside to carry a police telephone number with them - or even store it into their mobile phones - to report the vandals. They are appealing for the public's help in catching and convicting the offenders who are liable to be fined up to ?20,000 and can have their vehicles seized and crushed. The idea is that anyone seeing illegal off-roaders tearing up the landscape can immediately report them.
Samantha Williams, Heather and Hillforts Conservation Officer, said: "Sites like Moel y Gaer are Scheduled Ancient Monuments - we wouldn't tolerate people riding motorbikes and 4x4s through Conwy Castle and the same goes for these hillforts.

They date from about 800 BCE; and the soil here is so thin that one bike riding over here could destroy some valuable archaeological remains and they are just as much part of our history and heritage as the medieval castles. As well as this hillfort there is also a Bronze Age burial mound nearby which is even older and which has also been damaged by bikes."
Denbighshire County Archaeologist Fiona Gale said: "Twenty years ago a grass track about four feet wide ran up here along the ridge but now in places it's more than 15 feet wide and the heather and grass have been ripped away by the bikes and rain has then washed the surface away exposing the bare rock."
Moel y Gaer is the smallest of the many hillforts in Denbighshire which has one of the highest concentrations of these Iron Age remains in Western Europe. There are plans to carry out an archaeological dig on the site this summer before even more valuable historical remains are destroyed and in the meantime there are also plans to restore the area. Huge bales of cut heather lie ready to be spread over the bikers' illegal racetrack and the area will then be seeded with specially selected mountain grasses to match those found locally.
For more information visit http://www.heatherandhillforts.co.uk The police off-roading hotline is: 0845 6071002 or 0845 6071001 for Welsh language callers.
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#2
I love the idea of using heather to foil the bikers. Caltrops would be excessive, but natural defences are ideal, and probably more effective in the long run.
Prime practitioner of headology, with a side order of melting glass with a stern glare.
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#3
I totally agree that these people are wrecking archaeological sites with their stupidity but PLEASE dont call them bikers! They are people who ride off road bikes. Bikers are folk who not only ride bikes but live the life and would NEVER do such things.
Just wanted to clarify the point as I have been a biker for over 30 years and dont want to be put in the same catagory as these people
rant over!
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#4
Alas it isn't just in Wales and this initiative is to be commended and hopefully repeated elsewhere.

Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) seem to give people the idea they can do what they like on any attractive open green swathe of land irrespective of whose land it is or what they are driving over. Unfortunately the erosion of the surface only adds to their challenge and create havoc for archaeology and any other legitimate land user.

As a person who frequently has to deal with these mechanical mental pygmies on the ultimate 4x4 - a horse - they are also damaging bridleways and drove roads without compunction never mind terrifying the horses (we have enough trouble with the RAF and their low flying helicopters, but that is another rant...)

And yes, please don't call them bikers...I'm one of those too and I wouldn't be caught dead on a scramble bike!!Big Grin
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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#5
Damn... looks like I will have to ditch my 4x4 Nissan (I need it for my work) Patrol Wink or at least stop driving it over Hillforts! (just kidding) As a country person now, you have to be aware of what you can AND what you should do... often I just turn off the Patrol if some horses are passing me on a narrow road... (given its throaty growl even when stopped.) Walk to places over the hills to appreciate them more... there are places to go, and places not to.... I hope we can get an update on this later to see how it works.

Point taken about Bikers... Smile I should know as well! :face-kiss:
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#6
This is the problem...they ain't country people and have no interest in the care of the heritage or the land. Not sure who they think has preserved it this long for their new playground!!

(and on behalf of equestrians everywhere, thank you for turning off your engine...bloomin noisy things...nothing like my nice quiet landy 90!!)}Smile
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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#7
They're not even proper off-roaders, all the lads I know who are into it do it in Spain since there's nothing challenging over here
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#8
Hmmm... surely the problem could be fixed by a series of archaeological features. They are called postholes, and often are arranged in lines to create somthing called a "fence".

Seriously, if this is an ancient scheduled monument, and obviously a pretty important one, could someone just have put a small, simple fence around it? Asking people to carry the number of the police seems unlikely to be of much use, and I would imagine the police would have "better things to do" if told about it.

Got fed up over the years of stripped sites being used for racetracks because contractors could never be bothered to fence the areas off. Bloody off roaders!
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#9
Fences won't stop them, we have the monkey bikes and trail bikes along the towpaths too, we often ponder putting a low rope across to our boat and see if they can be re-routed into the canal but the police say no! I think using natural materials such as gorse, heather and big spiny cacti is ideal. Maybe not the cacti but there are things that can be used which will deter the little toerags.
Prime practitioner of headology, with a side order of melting glass with a stern glare.
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#10
you can have a bike track on every monument in britain and they will not do a 10xthousandth plus of the damge done by agriculture every year. so this iron aged hillfort went redundant in 750 bc and nothing for 3000 years happens there untill some some national quango goes around monumentalising mostly unused bits of land making out that there is valuable archaeology there when in the main there isnt but does not pay a penny to research these places or pay anything for archaeologists to live off and then when someone wants to take up off road hillfort biking we are then told about it by someone who probably is trying to justify their job but still wont pay to preserve by record. I bet they have gots lots of unused hillforts which maybe what they should do is select some that could be used for offical off road driving, maybe use the spoil heaps from digging and put evaluation trenches in difficult situations. I bet it would add an extra diemtion for of roaders knowing about the lumps and bumps that they are jumping over, treat it like a bit of coouiinrty archaeology
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