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The Thornborough Henges


Council Calls Extra Time for Henges Campaign

Campaigners fighting to preserve one of the most important ancient sites in Britain have been given a six-month breathing space before its future is decided.

As the 24 Hour Museum has previously reported, the land surrounding Thornborough Henges, Yorkshire, has been threatened by an application for quarrying work, which would dash undisturbed archaeological evidence.

However, building materials supplier Tarmac Northern, which wishes to extract gravel from nearby Ladybridge Farm, failed to meet North Yorkshire County Council's September deadline for producing an essential archaeological report.

The henges measure 240 metres across and stretch over 20 miles of Yorkshire countryside. Courtesy Friends of Thornborough

In the absence of the report, the council have chosen to delay any planning meetings about the application until 2005.

George Chaplin of the Thornborough Action campaign group told the 24 Hour Museum: "We know there's a high chance of nationally important archaeology sitting with Ladybridge … The archaeology report will now be available to the planning committee when they discuss the application, this is very good news."

The 5000-year-old complex of henges at Thornborough, close to Ripon, is considered by archaeologists to be one of the most important and best preserved prehistoric sites in the country.

The henges themselves are scheduled ancient monuments, and thus protected, but the surrounding land is not, although it is of high importance to researchers because it makes up the ritual landscape – an area stretching at least a mile around the site believed to contain hundreds of archaeological features related to ceremonial practices.

George feels that Thornborough Action has been given a platform to galvanise their campaign: "This additional six months is welcomed by us. We're now going to concentrate on spreading the word – by next year we'll have more objection letters than ever before."

Support for the campaign is not confined to locals anymore – a recent meeting in London attracted a healthy contingent, while more and more people are attending Yorkshire meetings. Considerable interest has also been shown by farmers when the group has taken its message to Masham Sheep Festival.

"We're building up a head of steam," George continued. "We have to break that critical mass."

The next campaign meeting will be held at the Forest of Galtres Society, Easingwold on September 28. Attendees can expect an interesting talk from George, who enlivens the evening with a multimedia presentation. The meetings focus on informing people about the henges themselves – George believes that after people are educated about "Britain's ancient ritual capital", they realise why preservation is so important.

The ritual landscape will see another Christmas thanks to the council's decision to hold off planning meetings until 2005. Courtesy George Chaplin.

The campaign group has also produced a range of Christmas cards depicting the henges. By the time they start dropping on doormats, Tarmac's report should be in the hands of the council.

George said: "Of course, even if the archaeological report goes some way to confirm the clear signs of ritual culture that have already been noted on the site, Tarmac will still apply to quarry the lot."

A spokesman for Tarmac Northern stressed that it is usual for planning authorities to seek additional information with applications of this nature.

He said: "Among the additional information that we will be providing is a detailed archaeological evaluation of the Ladybridge Farm site following the completion of investigations involving geophysical surveys, field walking, test pitting, trial excavations, sieving and sampling."
Posted by BrigantesNation
26th September 2004ce
Edited 24th February 2006ce

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