As It Happens

Vandals destroy ancient rock at UK tourist site

A large rock in U.K., that formed after the Ice Age, was knocked over a cliff earlier this month.

'It’s just a shame it’s been broken apart and the skyline has been changed completely,' said Catherine Barber

This rock, which balanced over a cliff, was pushed over and destroyed into pieces earlier this month. (submitted by Catherine Barber/National Trust )
Listen6:23

U.K. police say a group is to blame for destroying a large, historic rock that formed after the Ice Age.

The rock in question is part of the the Brimham Rocks, a site in North Yorkshire, England. The tourist attraction is known for its unique-looking rock formations, which started forming thousands of years ago from a 320 million-year-old rock.

The rock that was knocked over was one that balanced impressively near the edge of a cliff. However a week ago, authorities say several people pushed it over the cliff, breaking it in pieces.

The rock, before it was pushed over a cliff. The site was a popular attraction among visitors around the world. (submitted by Catherine Barber/National Trust )

"They went at it for quite a while to get the momentum to push it off. So there was definitely intent there," said Catherine Barber, a ranger at the Brimham Rocks, in an interview with As It Happens host Carol Off.

"It's a great shame because that stone's been there and has been rocked by many visitors over hundreds of years, and it's just a shame now that it will [no longer] be there for the people to come in and try."

On the day of the incident, Barber says police were notified by a nearby eyewitness, who saw the group pushing a particularly large rock.

Considering that the rock weighs about a tonne, Barber says it must have taken a lot of effort to knock the rock over, and that there was "a few of them going at it for a little while."

Catherine Barber is a ranger at the Brimham Rocks. (submitted by Catherine Barber)

Barber adds that one eyewitness even heard the sound of the rock dropping over the cliff.

"She said she hadn't heard anything like it ever," Barber said.

"I can imagine it'd be quite unworldly because you can't really imagine what kind of noise that would make. But, she said it shook the ground as well. So you can imagine the weight that had been moved."

The Brinham Rocks gets around 250,000 visitors a year. Barber says it was a good thing no injuries were caused during the incident.

"It was at one of our quiet times, so about [9:30 pm] in the evening," she said. "We tend to get most of the visitors in the day, but there was the possibility that someone could have been underneath, but luckily nobody was."

Barber says it is fairly unlikely that the culprits who pushed the large rock over will be found. She is hopeful that someone will confess about what they did, and not do it again.

"There's nothing we can do to definitely confirm who did it, which is a shame really."

Barber said it will be the visitors who will lose out the most. 

"It's just a shame it's been broken apart and the skyline has been changed completely," she said.

Written by Samantha Lui. Interview produced by Katie Geleff.

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