Roman Ridge revamp

Damaged: English Heritage's Yvonne Luke and Richard Fulbrook on a ramp made by mountain bikers with soil dug from the 2,500 year old Roman Ridge.
Damaged: English Heritage's Yvonne Luke and Richard Fulbrook on a ramp made by mountain bikers with soil dug from the 2,500 year old Roman Ridge.
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A PREHISTORIC earthwork in a South Yorkshire woodland which had been so badly damaged by mountain bikers it was on a national register of threatened heritage sites is to be repaired.

English Heritage has signed a management agreement with Swinton Wood owners Richard and Sue Fulbrook to ensure the remains of Roman Ridge - a scheduled ancient monument - are protected.

The feature has been damaged by mountain bikers digging into it to build ramps, causing it to be put on English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk Register.

The ridge runs for 500 yards but it once stretched for 12 miles from Wincobank to beyond Wath upon Dearne, with other portions surviving elsewhere, although much of the ridge has fallen victim to the plough and development.

English Heritage Historic Environment Field Adviser Yvonne Luke said: “This is a remarkable survivor and we are pleased to be working with the owner to help secure its future.

“Six stretches of the monument in South Yorkshire are listed in the Heritage at Risk Register as being at threat.

“Other problems include scrub growth, digging, vehicle damage and plough clipping. Such monuments offer a window on the past and they deserve to more widely known and celebrated locally.”

The Roman Ridge is at least 2,000 years old and almost certainly predates the Romans arriving in Britain. Experts say it is unlikely to have been a defensive structure, even though its construction would have required a huge effort.

It may have marked territories, or grazing areas for cattle and once marked the southern borders of the Brigantes, the biggest tribe in Celtic Britain who lived in what is now northern England.

Mr and Mrs Fulwood are seeking volunteers to help them restore the ridge and report any damage to them.

Mr Fulbrook said: “Part of the reason for buying the wood was to maintain public access and also to help protect the monument. People can play their part by reporting any damage being caused.

“This is a very important yet fragile monument and we are fortunate it has survived for so long. Everyone can play a part in ensuring it is protected.”