Mindless Vandals Churn Up Bronze Age Burial Site
For those who love and respect the past and our heritage, there is nothing more sickening than the mindless destruction of historic monuments. In Wales, United Kingdom, vandals have done appalling damage to a nationally important Bronze Age monument. They used off-road vehicles to drive over a prehistoric burial mound. The local authorities have pledged to apprehend the culprits and to prevent similar incidents from being repeated.
The damaged monument is located in Wentworth Forest, Monmouthshire, near the town of Newport in South Wales . Wentworth is one of the oldest forests in this part of Britain. The Bronze Age Britain burial mound has been standing in the area for between 3,000 to 4,000 years. According to ITV com , “it is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, meaning it is a nationally important site with legal protection.”
There are a number of similar mounds located on a ridge in the parkland. These are also known as barrows, and they are heaps of earth and stones, in the shape of a hemisphere. They consist of earth and stone raised over a burial or numerous burials. They typically contained the remains of members of the Bronze Age elite. Similar prehistoric structures are common all over Europe and beyond.
A close-up of the vandalised Bronze Age burial mound, with tyre tracks shown. ( Gwent Outdoor Centres )
Bronze Age Britain Vandals on Off-Road Vehicles
In recent years people on off-road vehicles have driven in the forest, this is despite the fact that it is prohibited, which is clearly shown on a number of signs. The Woodland Trust, which manages the area has invested heavily in measures to stop this activity, which they take very seriously. The Trust has now been spending £1,500 a year ($1,900) to try to keep speeding vehicles away from the woodland and its features, such as the Bronze Age burial mounds.
However, over the Christmas period, some individuals in off-road vehicles were able to speed around the woodland. In particular, they appear to have deliberately targeted the ancient burial mound. They repeatedly drove over the mound and they cut up the mound’s earth, which now bears the tracks made by the vehicles. It is not the first time that this monument has been damaged. However, the most recent damage done is much worse than anything previously and has shocked people.
Extensive damage done to the Bronze Age burial. ( Gwent Police Rural Crime Team )
Rob Davies, the Woodland Trust site manager, stated “this is a Bronze Age burial mound, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and the damage caused is, therefore, a criminal offense,” according to Wales Online . The relevant authorities have been informed and Gwent Police have been alerted. Mr. Davies asked “anyone who has any information about this incident, or who knows the registration numbers of any vehicles involved to contact the police,” according to Wales Online .
The problem of off-road vehicles is a serious one for the Woodland Trust. The recent damage done to the Bronze Age Britain mound is forcing the authorities to rethink the measures employed to keep off-road vehicles out of the woodland. There is a clear need for further work to stop speeding off-road vehicles, such as quad bikes, from wreaking more havoc. Gwent Police Rural Crime Team has tweeted that “immediate intervention measures are being introduced to prevent further damage,” reports the BBC. This is important as there is an urgent need to safeguard the other Bronze Age mounds in the area.
In #WentwoodForest with @cadwwales and @CoedCadw. Investigating appalling damage caused to a #BronzeAge burial mound by off road vehicles. Immediate intervention measures being introduced to prevent further damage. Any information call 101 #HeritageCrime reference 2000006156 pic.twitter.com/UD6sHGxEzB
— Gwent Police Rural Crime Team (@GPRuralCrime) January 7, 2020
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The vandalism of the mound demonstrates the dangers posed by speeding off-road vehicles to historic monuments. It also shows that if vandals are determined they can do appalling damage. It is hoped that the authorities apprehend the culprit(s), and the proposed new measures prevent a repeat of this mindless act of destruction.
Top image: The vandalised burial mound, from Bronze Age Britain, churned up with tyre tracks shown in Wales, UK. Source: Gwent Outdoor Centres
By Ed Whelan