Locals investigate the fossils at The Bendricks beach.
Locals investigate the fossils at The Bendricks beach.

Dinosaur footprint site near Barry damaged by looters

Beach has seen a swarm of visitors since the recent ‘internationally important’ discovery

LOOTERS and vandals have damaged “several areas” of a beach near Barry since the discovery of a fossilised dinosaur footprint.

The “internationally important” dinosaur footprint was discovered by a four-year-old girl at the Bendricks, a stretch of coastline between Barry and Sully, last week.

But at the weekend souvenir hunters with sledgehammers and crowbars descended on the site – designated as one of Special Scientific Interest – and damaged the area.

“We’ve been made aware of a number of reports of anti-social behaviour this weekend, following the news of a new dinosaur footprint being discovered at a beach in south Wales,” said a statement from Natural Resources Wales.

Around 50 people visited the site over the weekend and most left no trace. However, some were seen attempting to remove rocks from the beach with sledgehammers and crowbars.

Unfortunately, this has damaged rocks in several areas of the beach.

Notably, a 3m2 platform of solid rock was levered up from the coastline before being broken up and dumped onto the beach.

Freshly-smashed rocks and rock faces with hammer marks were found across the site.

“I’m absolutely shocked and appalled,” said Rowena Hughes from Barry. “Bendricks Beach has always been a hidden gem, known only to the locals.

“It’s sad to think that they have survived millions of years untouched, then thanks to the recent publicity, people think it’s okay to take a souvenir causing irreparable damage.”

“It spoils it for everybody else,” said Becky Bates from Sully.

“People get excited when they see the news and get a bit overzealous. But it defeats the object of finding it.”

A dinosaur print at The Bendricks beach, near Barry.
A dinosaur print at The Bendricks beach, near Barry.

Although many dinosaur footprints remain in the area, the one found by four-year-old Lily Wilder has now been taken to the National Museum Wales for study.

“The dinosaur footprint is a spectacular find,” said Natural Resources Wales.

“We were pleased to grant permission to the owners the British Institute for Geological Conservation, to remove the fossil and gift it to the Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, so that it can be preserved as a scientific and educational resource for future generations to enjoy.

“The site where the fossil was discovered is a Site of Special Scientific Interest which contains geological features that require careful site management in order to protect and preserve them.”

The beach is protected under the Wildlife and Country Act. That means it’s illegal to remove, damage or destroy rocks from the site without permission. This can lead to fines of up to £20,000.

Despite the appearance of looters, locals are pleased to see this incredible find getting international attention.

“What an amazing find for that little girl,” said Sarah Whitcombe-Hayes from Sully. “You’ll have that with you for the rest of your life. It’s good to see it stay local.”

According to current Welsh Government coronavirus guidelines, you should only visit the beach if you live locally.

  • If you see anybody attempting to remove rocks from The Bendricks please report it to the Natural Resources Wales incident hotline on 0300 065 3000.