Illegal off-road vehicles destroying major archaeological sites in Blaenau Gwent

Credit: Ian Fewings

Archaeological sites in the Cwmcelyn Valley, Blaenau Gwent, are being destroyed by illegal off-road vehicles, according to archaeologists and local farmers.

The sites, which are located across the Cwmcelyn Valley area, have been excavated for the past four years by the Cwmcelyn Hidden Landscapes Project.

Over 300 archaeological finds have been unearthed by the project, which is run entirely by volunteers. For this reason, the excavations have been hailed as the “biggest archaeological project of its kind.”

It has also been visited by HRH Princess Anne, as a result of its success.

Credit: Ian Fewings

But, the valley has been dealing with the growing problem of illegal off-road vehicles, which have allegedly caused damage to Cwmcelyn’s archaeological sites, wildlife habitats and livestock.

The issue has even been raised in Parliament by Blaenau Gwent MP, Nick Smith.

But, according to video footage taken on Sunday, the problem has continued.

Credit: Ian Fewings

Secretary of the Aberystruth History and Archaeology Society (AHAS), Ian Fewings, said it was a growing problem.

It’s a big problem in the area. There have been a number of sites damaged, such as a prehistoric track, a 1800s coach road, 1700s stone quarry, which is quite rare. On the other mountain a 4000 year old Bronze Age Cairn has been decimated. People are coming from all over the UK to ride on these mountains as they are being told that they won’t get caught by the police.

Ian Fewings

In a statement, Blaenau Gwent Sergeant, Neil Pigeon said they have received 6 reports of off-road bikers.

Over the last two months, we have received six reports of off-road bikers in the Blaina and Nantyglo area. None of these reports were specific to the Cwmcelyn area. For us to effectively deal with illegal off-road biking, there are dedicated patrols on the weekends by our officers with a view to identify areas and any illegal off-road motorcycling.

Neil Pigeon , Blaenau Gwent Sargeant