Leave our stones unturned
Aclampdown has been announced by the north York moors national Park authority on the modern craze popular among walkers for building stone cairns—usually conical-shaped mounds of rough stones assembled as a memorial or landmark—because they’re damaging some of the park’s most precious ancient monuments.
according to mags waughman, monument management scheme officer, the cairns are threatening barrows, burial monuments and other sites dating back to the Bronze age.
‘Barrows are often situated on high ground with fine viewpoints and, these days, may also be on well-used footpaths, particularly long-distance routes,’ she explains. ‘it’s here that the modern practice of walkers building cairns, often on the same spot as an ancient monument, can grow to bury or obscure the monument altogether or lead to erosion by inviting more walkers to climb on it.’
a recent national-park survey found that the surge in the popularity of walking and mountain biking over the past decade has caused extreme damage, sometimes requiring urgent remedial work.
action so far has largely been focused on the removal of cairns from monuments on raisdale moor and Live moor, close to the cleveland way, where a walkers’ cairn had become so large that it was difficult to see where the edges of a prehistoric burial mound were. archaeological consultants had to be brought in to supervise its dismantling to restore the monument’s profile.
The park has a total of 842 protected sites or scheduled monuments, of which burial mounds account for about 65%.
Stone cairns left by walkers in the North York Moors are damaging ancient monuments