Ancient Woodbury hillfort dating back 3,000 years is being damaged by illegal off-roading
PUBLISHED: 16:53 06 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:18 11 February 2019
An ancient hill fort near Exmouth dating back 3,000 years is being wrecked from motorists driving their vehicles off-road.
The remains of Woodbury Castle, a protected Iron Age hillfort, are being damaged by the illegal activity – despite signage and temporary fences being installed at the site.
The castle is protected by a Scheduled Monument, and Historic England and the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust are working closely with Devon and Corwall Police to protect the newly-repaired remains.
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.
Kim Strawbridge, site manager for the Pebblebed Heaths said: “Although we encourage responsible access to the heaths, we want to make it clear that damaging and illegal activity will be taken seriously.
“It is illegal to drive on the majority of the tracks on the wider heath as well as the hillfort itself without permission.
“The whole of the Pebblebed Heaths, or Woodbury Common as it tends to be known locally, has legal protection for its wildlife as well a specific areas which have legal protection for historic features.”
However, the issue is still ongoing – police recently issued an illegal off-roader who was seen at the beauty spot with a warning.
PC Martin Beck, rural crime officer, said: “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.”
Repairs to the vehicle damaged ramparts began in 2018, with new pedestrian access provided that limits off-roading.
The Trust, Historic England and Natural England have spent the last year undertaking a large-scale project, employing local contractors, to restore and conserve the ramparts (the banks forming part of the defensive boundary of the site) and to provide better information and public access for visitors on foot.