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The Brimham Rocks

Repugnant Destruction of 320-Million-Year-Old Stone Structure Causes Worldwide Fury


In AD 455, a gang of Germanic tribesmen sacked the city of Rome and their burning and pillaging was so ferocious that the tribes name was encapsulated for all of time as synonymous with their act of destruction - The Vandals - and to this day vandalism is a crime in every village, town and city. But now, they’re targeting the ancient world.

A gang of moronic vandals have mindlessly destroyed an iconic sandstone formation known as Brimham Rocks, in the moors national park, England. These striking natural landmarks formed over hundreds of millions of years of being eroded by water, glaciation and wind and towering up to 9 meters (30ft) in height they attract thousands of visitors every year. Many have been named so that visitors can try to spot them, for example; the Sphinx, the Watchdog, the Camel, the Turtle, the Gorilla and the Dancing Bear.

Remarkable Brimham rock formations, North Yorkshire

Remarkable Brimham rock formations, North Yorkshire (Paul Lakin / CC by SA 3.0)

The Brimham rocks

The Brimham rocks (public domain)

On 1st June five youths were spotted "pushing an enormous rock off a crag” at a spot which is managed by the National Trust at Summerbridge in the Nidderdale area of outstanding natural beauty. When they managed to tip it, the falling rock collided with another one on the way down and destroyed the face of the crag. Helen Clarke, of the National Trust, told reporters at The Times “It is just mindless destruction. It might have been fun for some people. Actually it is just completely pointless and needless.”

Vandals toppled over one of the balancing rocks, which had been shaped over millions of years.

Vandals toppled over one of the balancing rocks, which had been shaped over millions of years. Credit:

Last week North Yorkshire police released a report which said: “The damage is irreparable and the crag is now in a potentially dangerous condition. The incident has not only caused considerable damage to both the rock and the crag face, but those responsible also put themselves in danger and have created a potential hazard for other visitors.” I would imagine only a few people are that much concerned for the vandals safety!

The rock sits smashed on the ground below.

The rock sits smashed on the ground below. Credit:

The particular type of mindless violence committed against natural rock formations is relatively new to the United Kingdom, but the phenomena has been witnessed in the US for several years. In 2013 CNN reported a shocking incident in which a scout leader, Glenn Taylor, and his two friends destroyed a similar rock pedestal in southern Utah's Goblin Valley State Park that was one of “thousands of such rocks shaped like mushrooms and known to locals as goblins.”

Astoundingly, once one of the scouts, David Hall, had completed his act of vandalism he laughed and high fived his friends then posted the minute-long act to Facebook! Why on earth would anyone in their right mind post such a damning video on social media? Hall confidently argued that the “delicate structure posed a threat to visitors” and he told KUTV that “the goblin had been unstable and wasn't going to last very long at all… One gust of wind and a family's dead.” Hall’s plea, of course, came just after he met a wall of hatred on social media over his crime.

And only last year at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area in Oregon an iconic 7- by 10-foot sandstone formation called "the duckbill" was found collapsed. At the time the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department wasn't suspicious because the stretch of cliff where the formation had been located was fenced off to keep visitors away. Then a man named David Kalas came forward claiming the destruction was caused by vandals - and he had a cellphone video which captured a group of five people pushing over this popular sandstone formation.

Kalas told reporters at The Oregonian that when he first saw the group of strangers pushing and pulling on the formation he was "laughing instead of alarmed.” But then he saw it start to wobble and he hit record. When the rock formation crashes to the ground a voice is heard shouting, "Got ‘em!” Kalas told KATU News that he spoke with the vandals after the event and ”They basically told me themselves that it was a safety hazard, and that they did the world or Oregon a favor.”

Just like scout leader Glenn Taylor in Utah, this group of vandals argued that they were performing an act of public a service and they presented a shocking statistic: "Seven people have died in the area since 2009. Six fatal falls have taken place during the past two years. Rescue efforts by the local fire district and U.S. Coast Guard cost upward of $21,000 per hour, often topping out near $106,000," KATU News wrote.

A major underlying problem is that there are insufficient deterrents in place for such crimes. In the case of the Utah "duckbill” toppling the vandals faced a charge of $475 dollars - that’s less than 100 bucks each. In England, if the vandals are caught their defense lawyers will draw out the action arguing whether the accused committed Aggravated criminal damage, or not. Was it done with intent and recklessness, or not?

And, when vandals get caught and play the “I was doing a service to the endangered public” judges should be quicker to ask “Would you steal a neighbors car at night and burn it in a field because it “might” have killed someone the next day?

What we certainly don’t need out there in the natural world are egotistical, fear driven vigilantes who see threats in nature rather than wonders. If you identify a threat in nature simply report it to the appropriate authorities because they know that if families are threatened by loose rocks, you don’t destroy the rock, you restrict the visitors with fencing and support structures.

Top image: The Brimham Rocks (public domain)

By Ashley Cowie



Brimham Rocks is a wonderful, it is enjoyed by many for a day out, particularly by children over the summer months. I hate to say this, but there is an argument to install CCTV to deter the idiots. It is not only the people of today that think this is an awe inspiring place, so did the ancients, it's wonderful and well worth a visit if your in North Yorkshire (this is clearly a loss, but the entire site about 3kms sq is full of these balancing rock formations and weathered columns) and needs to be preserved for future generations. Thanks Ashley for writing this article. I will pop a note to the National Trust and see if they need a hand to deter the idiots.

They're IDIOTS. Unbelievable.

Oh yeah

I can't believe that adults that are supposed to be mentors to our children are teaching them things like this !!! not only should they be prosecuted for the vandalism that they diid !!! they need to be prosecuted for the exsample that they set for them kids !!!
The world looks in Americans today like we are exactly what these men where an example of !!!!!
They should be ashamed of yourself and look at their character because it sure shows now !!!!!!!!!!

Shoot the vandalls! Feed the buzzards!

ashley cowie's picture


Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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