Irresponsible Bikers Use 3,000-Year-OId Ring Cairn as Motorbike Circuit
Scrambler motorbikes are a popular pastime in many countries, including Britain. However, a group of irresponsible scramblers have been using a 3000-year-old Welsh ring cairn as a motorbike circuit. This has caused considerable damage to the Bronze Age monument, which is protected under British law.
The Welsh ring cairn is at Tor Clawdd, Mawr and dates to at least 3000 years ago. The ring cairn is located near an ancient causeway that crossed a marshland. It was once surrounded by a one-foot (30.48 cm) high bank and the cairn has an internal diameter of 50 feet (15.24 m) and is 10 foot long (3.05m). The entire site was enclosed by a ditch and traces of the entrance to the cairn can still be seen.
RCAHMW colour oblique photograph of Ring Cairn on Tor Clawdd (Tor Clawdd Enclosure). Taken by Toby Driver. (RCAHMW/CC BY NC)
Tor Clawdd, Mawr is a National Monument
Tor Clawdd, Mawr, ‘ is an important relic of a prehistoric funerary and ritual landscape and retains significant archaeological potential,’ according to the Ancient Monuments website. It was once part of a ritual and ceremonial landscape that may have been sacred to local people in the Bronze Age for centuries. Ancient Monuments, an online database of scheduled monuments and structures, emphasized that this ring cairn is of ‘national importance’ in Wales.
The cairn is situated not far from Swansea in Wales. Recently local people were horrified to see scramblers using the round ancient structure as a circuit. Illegal off-road bikes were riding around the cairn and doing it a great deal of damage. According to Wales Online, ‘Witnesses have spoken of their horror at seeing riders of illegal off-road bikes using the historic ring cairn at Tor Clawdd, Mawr, as a circuit, causing significant damage’. They called the South Wales police who attended the scene.
Vandalism caused by off-road scrambler bikes in the area of the Torclawdd ringwork. (Gareth Richards)
Police Warning and Citizens are Concerned about Scrambling
The officers were not able to make any arrests or identify the culprits. The scramblers were wearing helmets and their bikes did not have registration plates. South Wales police are taking these incidents very seriously as it is a scheduled monument, which means it is regarded as a national heritage asset and is protected by law. The scramblers could face a fine or even prison time for damaging the site. South Wales police have pleaded with those responsible “to think of the consequences of their actions,” according to The World News.
Experts from Cadw, a body responsible for ancient monuments in Wales, are working with local people to protect the cairn. They are collaborating with them on how to avoid a repeat of the scrambling. Among the actions that they are going to take is to erect signs to prevent further destruction. Cadw is presently repairing the damage to the circular monument.
Experts are working to repair the damage at the Welsh ring cairn. (Gareth Richards)
Off-road biking is a major concern for many Welsh communities. A South Wales spokesperson told The World News that “Off-road biking continues to be a concern for our communities and we continue to patrol key locations and take action when appropriate.” Illegal racing and scrambling are causing a variety of problems.
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Destruction of the Welsh Ring Cairn and Other Heritage Sites
A former local representative, Ioan Richard, told Wales Online that “These scramblers are not only destroying an ancient Cadw listed structure, they are also destroying the grazing sward and seriously disturbing hill grazing livestock with lambs and calves getting separated from their mothers.” This is a serious issue for many farmers, who are struggling financially. They are also a danger to many local people, and according to Wales Online, ‘motorised menaces are making their lives hell’. Many communities have agitated for tougher action to stop illegal racing and scrambling by riders who are often too young to have a license.
The damage inflicted on the Bronze Age Welsh ring cairn is only the latest example of vandalism to a historic monument in the country. Last year, the Roman amphitheatre in Caerleon had its walls regularly vandalized and some of its stones have even been thrown around.
South Wales police have issued an appeal to anyone with information about the scrambling and the damage done to the cairn to come forward.
Top image: People have vandalized a Welsh ring cairn by using it as a motorbike circuit. Source: AA+W / Adobe Stock
By Ed Whelan