An illegal off-roader was spotted at Woodbury Castle
Equipped with evidence, the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust and Historic England supported by the local Police Heritage Crime Liaison Officer were able to identify the driver, who has been issued with a formal notice under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002.
Woodbury Castle is an Iron Age hillfort which is protected as a Scheduled Monument. Located on Woodbury Common, overlooking the Exe Estuary, it is owned by Clinton Devon Estates and managed by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust. Historic England and the Trust are keen to raise awareness that crime and anti-social behaviour on this site will not be tolerated. Local police are supportive of pursuing formal action against people damaging the sensitive ancient monument.
Unfortunately, despite signage and temporary fences, the site is still being damaged as a result of illegal off-roading by 4x4 vehicles driving across the ancient hillfort. Ruts caused by tyres are damaging the soil and newly grass seeded areas, preventing grass from growing. Off-roading on the ancient ramparts compacts and erodes the original fabric of the site which is believed to be around 3,000 years old.
Kim Strawbridge Site Manager for the Pebblebed Heaths said: “Woodbury Castle is a fantastic site that is special to a lot of people for a whole range of reasons, we have spent much of the past year working with our volunteers and members of the public to protect this historic landmark within the heaths. Though we have on-going management of trees and scrub, and a green blanket of grass to establish to provide long-term protection against erosion, our hard work is paying off. People visiting the hillfort can play their part by making sure they enjoy the site in a way that doesn’t cause damage”.
Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Project Officer, Charlotte Russell, said: “Illegal off-roading is an increasing problem that is causing damage to nationally important archaeological sites across Devon and other parts of the South West. It’s sad to see a newly repaired site being harmed as a result of the thoughtless actions of a few people, but also really encouraging that local people, the Trust and the local force police all acted together in this case to reinforce the message that off-roading is not going to be tolerated.”
Rural Crime Officer, PC Martin Beck said: “The police in Devon and Cornwall recognise the importance of working in collaboration to preserve our historic and cultural assets in the South West. The impact of this type of crime isn’t just simple damage this is against our future generations who we protect our cultural assets for. Illegal off roading gets reported in various places across the county. If you are an off roader please stick to places you know you can go. If it’s not your land find out first who’s it is and ask before going on it”.