Using Verulamium Park's Roman ruins as bike ramp is 'clearly unacceptable'

Mountain biker on Roman wall in Verulamium Park

The biker rode along the Roman wall ruins in Verulamium Park - which are thought to date back to around 270AD - Credit: Supplied

Visitors to Verulamium Park are being strongly advised not to scale the Roman Wall, after a member of the public witnessed another person using the "precious ruins" to cycle along and perform bike tricks off.

The man, who does not wish to be named, witnessed the cyclist, thought to be in his early 20s, riding along the top of the ruins of the Roman Wall on his mountain bike on Monday (February 8).

A second man was also on a bike near the wall, but remained on the cycle path.

Although English Heritage and St Alban district council have made provisions to ensure the public has access to the ruin, signage around Verulamium Park actively encourages the general public to respect the landmark and to help preserve it for generations to come.

signs in Verulamium Park

Signs around Verulamium Park politely ask members of the public not to climb on or walk along the Roman wall. - Credit: Supplied

The unnamed man asked the biker to stop riding over the ruins, but he politely responded saying that he 'had a right to ride along it', and that the removal of the low fence around the monument suggested that using the wall for this purpose was permitted.

"That surely must be a perverse misinterpretation of that policy. Nobody could reasonably believe that such policy was intended to facilitate people climbing all over Roman ruins to increase the rate of their destruction," the man told the Herts Ad.

The witness emailed the council back in 2013, voicing his concerns that members of the public were walking along the wall, and called for the reinstatement of the low fence around the ruin, as well as the addition of some signage.

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"I just thought it was unbelievable really. I never thought I'd actually see someone riding a bike over the ruins, I just thought people would be walking over and dislodging the stones. It's unbelievable that somebody would actually ride a bike over the ruins, and that's going to make it even worse.

"The cycle route - the path that comes down next to the Roman Wall - half of it is a cycle path and half of it is a footpath, and when you get to the London Gate, it merges into one, and people are meant to share it sensibly. I very much doubt there is a right to cycle anywhere other than on those paths.

"It's stunning that anyone would do that. It's interesting that he thought he had a perfect right to do it!"

English Heritage’s free sites co-ordinator Katie Chown said: “The Roman ruins in Verulamium Park are a Scheduled Monument, protected in law under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act, and using them in this way is clearly unacceptable.

"We are monitoring the site regularly, and are working with St Albans City and District Council to address this issue. We would urge everyone using the park to make sure they are doing so in a way which respects its unique archaeology.”

Cllr Anthony Rowlands, portfolio holder for leisure, heritage and public realm for St Albans council, said: “We thank the resident for bringing this abuse of the Roman Wall to our attention.

“I’m appalled that someone would ride a mountain bike across these precious ruins and urge anyone who can identify them to report them to the police as they may be guilty of an offence such as criminal damage.

“If anyone sees something like this happening again, then I would ask them to report the incident to the police immediately on 101.

“Our park rangers monitor this historic area of the park and we will continue along with English Heritage to do our utmost to protect it, taking action where necessary against anyone found to have damaged the ruins.

“The vast majority of Verulamium Park users are very respectful of the ruins and want to keep their city’s heritage in excellent condition. I’m sure they will support all our efforts to do so.”