New hopes for henges' future
A PREHISTORIC site at risk from quarrying appears to have found a new ally, with North Yorkshire County Council acknowledging its national importance.
Following growing concerns about the threat to the unique triple henge complex at Thornborough, near West Tanfield, the council has formed a special consultation group in a bid to help safeguard its future.
The site - said to be one of most important Neolithic remains in the country - lies next to the massive Nosterfield Quarry which is is feared will encroach even closer to the 5,000 year old henges.
The new consultation group includes representatives from the county council, who are responsible for giving planning permission to quarry at the site, as well as English Heritage, English Nature, Hambleton District Council and local action group The Friends of Thornborough, who last year stepped up their campaign to stop quarrying on the site.
Meetings will be held every six weeks, providing a forum for the exchange of information and views.
The move by the county council highlights the growing interest in the site, which is beginning to be recognised as being of national archaeological importance, and has even had questions about it raised in the House of Commons by MP for the area, Anne MacIntosh.
Coun Peter Sowray, the county council's executive member for environmental services who will chair the consultation group, said this week: "The county council recognises the importance of Thornborough Henges both locally and nationally. The group has been set up to reflect the county council's role in dealing with the henges.
"Further mineral working in the area of Thornborough Henges would have major implications, not only for the henges and the surrounding archaeological landscape, but also in terms of the impact it would have on local communities at Thornborough and Nosterfield.
"The current planning permission for sand and gravel extraction at Nosterfield Quarry was granted in 1994 subject to a detailed schedule of conditions, including restoration and archaeology. Proposals for site restoration are being progressed on a phased basis and in accordance with an agreed management plan. Setting up this consultation group will give us the opportunity to discuss all these issues with interested parties."
Chairman of the Friends, Jon Lowry, who will sit on the consultation group, said: "We are hopefully all working together towards a common end and I think the council is taking the issue seriously. Its rather good that at least now we can find somebody to talk to."
But he added: "Some of us may be a little wary because we have been trying to talk to these people for ages and all of a sudden the door's open. The timing of the consultation group coincided with the questions in the House of Commons.
"I have questions as to whether a meeting every six weeks will be enough and if anything will be done in between. But I'm hoping things will happen."
A large turnout was expected last night for a public meeting called by the Friends to canvas views from English Heritage, the county council and quarry company Tarmac Northern Limited.
A conference is due to take place in Northallerton at the end of the month to consider the archaeological consequences of continued quarrying at Thornborough. Run by the Yorkshire Group of the Council for British Archaeology and open to members of the public, it will feature presentations by eminent archaeologists and the main stakeholders in the dispute.
Mr Lowry said such events were indicative of the way recognition of the site's importance had snowballed in the last year.
He added: "I think we are finding doors are opening. People were a bit wary of us at first but now we have the support of some serious and well-respected archaeologists and that shows that our cause is at least legitimate."
l The CBA conference takes place at the Golden Lion Hotel, Northallerton on Saturday, March 27. Tickets cost £5 (£15 with buffet lunch) and are available on 01609 771878.
Posted by BrigantesNation
16th March 2004ce
Edited 16th March 2004ce