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The Thornborough Henges — News

Huge Labyrinth walk will herald the launch of new Thornborough campaign


TIMEWATCH.ORG MEDIA RELEASE - 10/09/2007

Huge Labyrinth walk ceremony will herald the launch of new Thornborough restoration campaign

Thornborough Henges to be target of Restoration campaign

More the 500 candles will be used to create a massive labyrinth at Thornborough's Central Henge as part of the opening ceremony for TimeWatch's new campaign to restore Thorborough's ancient cursus.

Heritage campaign Group TimeWatch has announced that the group is to launch a new campaign aimed at restoring what the group is calling the "sacred Landscape" of Thornborough Henges.

To kick off the campaign, and in recognition of the ancient site's ritual purpose, TimeWatch have invited local religious and spiritual groups to participate in a ceremony of good fortune for the campaign. The ceremony will begin at 7pm on Saturday 22nd September and will involve pagan, Christian and people from other faiths who all agree that restoring one of Yorkshires oldest and largest ritual monuments is an important next step for the campaign. The ceremony will last for two hours and will include a partial walk of the cursus and story telling.

"In recognising the religious origins for the mighty monuments at Thornborough, we also recognise that no particular group has ownership of these structures; they belong to us all and we invite all-comers to come and help us begin the task of restoration by taking part in this spectacular ceremony" Said TimeWatch Chairman George Chaplin.

After more than five years of campaigning against quarrying at Thornborough, and following the planning ruling that the important archaeology surrounding the henges had to be protected TimeWatch have announced that it is time to begin restoring parts of the site that have been previously ruined.

"Thornborough Cursus is potentially the oldest major monument in the world aligned to the Constellation Orion. It is also the largest monument at Thornborough; almost a mile long" Said Mr Chaplin "On the 22nd of September we will be launching an entirely new campaign to restore the section that has been quarried back to its original state. We believe that this move will be positive for all involved since it will return the land back to original quality.

The Cursus at Thornborough is thought to have been built around 3,500BC, some five hundred years before the henges. It is a fifty meter wide strip of land, almost a mile long that was cleared in order to create a ceremonial causeway that some think of as a "spirit path" for the soul to return to the heavens.

Thornborough's cursus has been compared to the shaft within the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid in Giza. This was also aligned to Orion and emanates from the central pyramid of three structures that mirror Orion's Belt. This too has been equated to a spirit path – a passageway for the soul of the pharaoh to travel to Orion.

"We think we can best protect Thornborough by helping to promote it as a unique site of international importance. Restoring the cursus will greatly help with this and will have local and regional environmental and economic benefits" Said Mr Chaplin.

Quarry firm wins Henges extension


Controversial plans to extend a quarry close to an ancient monument in North Yorkshire have been given the go-ahead despite opposition from campaigners.

Construction firm Tarmac can now extend its works at Ladybridge Farm, near the historic Thornborough Henges.

Campaigners had been fighting the plans for three years - fearing further work would damage the 5,000 year old site.

The henges - earth works - are believed to be one of the largest ritual gathering places of the Neolithic era.

A revised scheme was granted after the original bid was rejected in February.

Tarmac Estates manager Bob Nicholson said the decision had come as "a great relief" to the company's employees, hauliers and others whose livelihoods rely on the Nosterfield quarry.

The approval of the reduced plans will allow Tarmac to take out sand and gravel on a site east of Nosterfield quarry at Ladybridge Farm on condition the company gives legal safeguards to protect the site.

Map showing location of Thornborough Henges
A Tarmac spokesman confirmed the firm's appeal against refusal of its earlier application would be withdrawn.

George Chaplin, chairman of the campaign group Timewatch, said the petition, which included 10,000 names and addresses, was ruled inadmissible to the planning committee.

He said: "I find it very concerning with regards to democracy.

"We had hoped the council would incorporate the views of their voters in to the minerals planning strategy by now, but it hasn't happened.

"We always hear about how apathetic the voters are meant to be, but when the voters actually put their names and addresses down on a petition it's just ignored. What does this mean for democracy?"

Mr Chaplin added the campaign would continue and take its case to central government.

An English Heritage spokeswoman said the area between the Rivers Ure and Swale contains the most significant concentration of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments and related archaeological deposits in the north of England.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/6268043.stm

Hill of Tara — News

M3 go-ahead as objector drops case


M3 go-ahead as objector drops case

Meath Chronicle
Sat, Oct 07 06


NRA looks to June 2007 start to biggest ever road project

Paul Murphy

THE 'Battle of Tara' is over.

The last legal obstacle to the long-delayed M3 motorway has been removed and work on the project will start in June of next year following an agreement by an environmental campaigner to end a legal action blocking the road's construction.

The news got a warm welcome across the political spectrum yesterday (Tuesday) and was described as a major boost to the creation of infrastructure in the county which would draw inward investment.

Mr Salafia's retreat from legal action - signalled in the Meath Chronicle last week - had been rumoured in the past 10 days. He said on Tuesday that he was pleased to announce that a settlement had been reached before the Supreme Court in his case against the Minister for the Environment, the Attorney General, Meath County Council and the NRA regarding the excavation and planned construction of the M3 "through the Hill of Tara archaeological complex."

He said he had accepted an offer from the other parties to settle the proceedings after advice from his lawyers that it was in the best interests of the campaign to preserve the integrity of the Tara complex.

In the agreement, he has agreed to withdraw his Supreme Court appeal in return for their pledge not to pursue him personally for costs, estimated to be s600,000.

Ominously, Mr Salafia said that the path was now clear for fresh legal challenges to the M3 at Tara by independent third parties, "one of which is understood to be under way." However, the NRA said this week that it knew nothing of any further legal actions against the project.

Mr Salafia had taken a judicial review of the 2005 decision of the Minister for the Environment Dick Roche and was granted leave by Justice Peart in July last year.

The hearing had been postponed by the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Joe Finnegan, in anticipation of the then pending Supreme Court ruling in the Carrickmines Castle/M50 case. The hearing went ahead in January 2005 after the Carrickmines had been postponed for a third time.

He said that the best result campaigners could have hoped for in the Supreme Court was a rehearing in the High Court, followed by another Supreme Court appeal. The substance of his case would now be brought directly to the Environment Directorate of the European Union and he was petitioning the EU to take legal action directly against Ireland for breaches of EU law.

The total length of the N3 from Clonee to north of Kells swill be around 60km and cover 700 hectares of land. It will be by far the biggest ever road project ever undertaken in the county. The scheme includes 60km of mainline and 50km of ancillary and access roads. The NRA said that some archaeological work had been undertaken but other major excavation would now take place in preparation for the start-up of the project "post-May 2007."

The removal of legal blockages to the construction of the M3 got a warm reception across the political spectrum.

The Mayor of Navan, Colr Tommy Reilly, said that the news that the way was now open for the building of the M3 was "brilliant."

He added: "It is long overdue and just what we need to bring business in County Meath. It should be a major boost in bringing industry in. It will also help us to service properly the needs of people who have come to live in the county."

He said that it was imperative that all interests in the county would now push for the railway line. This was a vital link in creating the infrastructure which would ensure that Meath was able to avail of inward investment.

Meath East Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee also welcomed the go ahead. "I am very pleased that work will shortly start on the construction of the M3 motorway. It will be welcome news to the thousands of harassed commuters who use the existing road to get to and from work and college in Dublin."

Many people had heartfelt views concerning the possible impact of the project on the historic area around the Hill of Tara, he said. "The experience of archaeologists should, I believe, be available during the project to advise the contractors who will construct the motorway."

North Meath TD Johnny Brady has welcomed the news. He said: "I welcome very much that Mr Salafia has withdrawn his objection and that common sense has prevailed at long last. This has been a long drawn out battle. It has gone through one of the longest oral hearings in the history of the State. It went through the planning process in Bord Pleanala, it went through the High Court and was now in the Supreme Court.

"I welcome the decision of Mr Salafia to withdraw his objection and this leaves the way open for construction to start and we will hopefully see the construction under way in the very near future."

Colr Brian Fitzgerald, welcoming the ending of legal process, said that, for too long, the development of the county had been held up. He hoped that a number of projects which had been in the pipeline, and were delayed because of legal action against the proposed M3, would now go ahead.

It was now time for interests in the county to make sure that the reopening of rail links in the county should proceed hand-in-hand with the construction of the motorway.

Settlement of the Hill of Tara / M3 case


PRESS STATEMENT

3 October 2006

Settlement of the Hill of Tara / M3 case

Today I am pleased to announce that a settlement has been formalised before the Supreme Court in my case against the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; The Attorney General; Meath County Council; and the National Roads Authority, regarding the excavation and planned construction of the M3 motorway through the Hill of Tara archaeological complex.

I have accepted an offer from the Defendants to settle these particular proceedings after receiving legal advice from my Senior Counsel, Mr Ger Hogan SC, and Mr Frank Callanan SC, that it was in the best interests the campaign to preserve the integrity of the Tara complex. Thus, I have withdrawn my Supreme Court appeal in return for their agreement not to pursue me personally for costs, estimated in the region of 600,000 euros. The path is now clear for fresh legal challenges to the M3 at Tara by independent third parties, one of which is understood to be under way.

I took judicial review of the May 2005 decision of the Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, within the 8 week time limit, and was granted leave by Justice Peart in July 2005. But the hearing was postponed by the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan, in anticipation of the then pending Supreme Court ruling in the Carrickmines Castle / M50 case. Finally, the hearing went ahead regardless in January 2006, after the Carrickmines ruling was postponed for a third time.

From the very first day of trial my case sank into a procedural quagmire, when Mr Justice Tom Smyth refused to accept affidavits and threw them back over the bench at us. The case then unravelled when he refused our motion for oral cross-examination of witnesses, and critical evidence, was excluded. The excluded evidence went to the heart of the case, and we were unable to legally prove that new national monuments had been discovered.

Expert evidence from Discovery Programme Experts, Conor Newman, Joe Fenwick and Edel Bhreatnach, alleged that many of the newly discovered 38 sites between Navan and Dunshaughin are national monuments because they lie within the Tara complex. In addition, they alleged that 2 particular monuments, at Baronstown and Collierstown in the Tara/Skryne valley, are national monuments in their own right. However, at the commencement of proceedings they decided not to support an application for an injunction, but rather let the matter go directly to full hearing on the merits, in order not to hold up the M3 unnecessarily.

With these national monuments now under imminent threat of demolition, and excavations due to end in early 2007, time is of the essence. The best result we could have hoped for in the Supreme Court in my case was a rehearing in the High Court, followed by another Supreme Court appeal. However, any new Plaintiff would be able to make an application for an injunction immediately.

The substance of my case will now be brought directly to the Environment Directorate of the European Union and I am petitioning the EU to take legal action directly against Ireland for breaches of EU law. The evidence will show how the NRA has systematically underplayed the extent and significance of the Tara archaeological complex, in light of the fact that the Environmental Impact Assessment only identified 5 out of 38 sites.

The campaign will cotinue in earnest and I will remain Legal Affairs spokesperson for TaraWatch and continue to seek a political solution, as well as a legal solution, in light of the upcoming General Election and the fact that 70% of voters surveyed last year wanted the M3 rerouted.

TaraWatch has recently been contacted by the World Monuments Fund, a New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered ancient and historic sites around the world. They want us to make a submission with a view to putting the Tara complex on the list of World's 100 Most Endangered Sites list. We are also in direct contact with Europa Nostra, the administrators of European Heritage Week, who are considering launching an investigation into the Tara affair.

TaraWatch will also participate in a series of public demonstrations, the first of which will be held in Navan on Saturday, 4th November, starting at 3pm. We are also producing an album with bands like The Waterboys, Paddy Casey and Kila having offered songs.

On a personal level, I took this case because I truly believe the current M3 plan to be illegal, immoral and unethical and I still hold that view. The route of the M3 is 'the fruit of the poisonous tree', to use a legal expression. The roots of that tree are deeply embedded in Leinster House, where later today the Irish people will be officially informed, in essence, that black is in fact white.

The branches of this 'tree' extend well into County Meath, where recent by-election campaign saw the withdrawal of the Fianna Fail candidate after it was disclosed that he co-owned land with Frank Dunlop outside Dunshaughlin, not far from the M3. This was the same candidate that informed RTE's Prime Time that nothing had been discovered by the NRA at Tara except "pots and pans". An article in Ireland on Sunday called 'Tara Tycoons', (10-09-05) shows how major Fianna Fail contributors stand to make millions from developing lands in and around the 50 acre junction planned for Blundelstown, 1,000 metres from the crest of the Hill of Tara.

Recently, the NRA and indeed the Taoiseach have followed this lead and falsely and maliciously alleged that my case has cost the taxpayer 70 to 150 million euros in delays, as well as the lives of accident victims who had to drive on the old road. The obvious truth is that my case has caused no delay in the M3, as excavations are not even due to end until early 2007. There has been no delay in construction and no injunction in place, by my own design.

Finally, I did ask that this matter be handed over to binding arbitration, which would entail an independent third party assessment by a mutually acceptable qualified archaeological consultancy company.
All legal consequences would flow from the determination of the core issues of law and fact: (a) Does the M3 pass through the national monument of Tara? and (b) Have new national monuments been discovered?
This would be quickest and most effective means of bringing finality to the issue and certainty to the M3 project. The authorities rejected this proposal, which means that fresh legal proceedings are likely, along with a dramatic escalation of protests.

There are many other problems with the M3, besides the purely heritage issues. The current route is a waste of taxpayers money because it actually veers 3.5 km off path between Navan and Dunshaughlin to go through the Tara complex, and crosses the N3 in two places within 8 miles, where there is no population density. If it were to go 3.5 km westwards instead it would not need any N3 crossovers and would service Trim, as well as saving approximately 50 million euros.

While TaraWatch is mainly concerned with saving Tara and is not an anti-motorway lobby, we do note that the Al Gore film, 'An Inconvenient Truth' shows that global warming is happening much faster than we imagined and that drastic measures are necessary to reverse the trend.
The M3 represents 1970's technology in terms of fuel efficiency. Even the NRA itself is touting 2+1 schemes as much better options in terms of safety and efficiency per taxpayer euro. Meanwhile, there is no sign of the Navan to Dublin railway being opened, giving commuters an opportunity to get out of their cars and avoid the inevitable traffic jam at Blanchardstown, which will happen even if the M3 is built as planned.

Sooner or later this Government, or the next, must accept the inconvenient truth that the approval of the M3 route is one of the worst ever planning decisions in Ireland, and that it must be revisited in light of current knowledge and common sense.

ENDS

Vincent Salafia

The Thornborough Henges — News

Thornborough - Raising the stakes


Raising the stakes

TARMAC Northern's submission of a revised planning application to quarry land near the Thornborough henges ancient monument site increases the stakes in this long-running saga.

The company has already appealed against North Yorkshire County Council's refusal of the original application to quarry 45 hectares. This new application - for 31 hectares - is Tarmac's tactical fall-back position. If it can't have the whole site, seeking permission for a lesser area may be a means of dealing with some of the conservation/archaeological objections. It perhaps is also a signal of the company's intention to take this battle to the next stage - a legal one - should the Government planning inspector dismiss Tarmac's appeal.

The pressure is unquestionably stepped up on the county council, which will in due course decide whether to grant the revised application permission. That process will once more concentrate minds on the status of the setting of the henges and to what extent it is critical to the henge complex as a whole. Does the removal of 14
hectares of farmland closest to one of the three henges make a difference to archaeologists who say the monuments are more than the three circular earthworks and that the surrounding landscape is just as important if we are to understand their significance?
continued...



Our understanding of the concerns of the county council and English Heritage is that those 14 hectares will not make a great deal of difference to the conservation argument which, taken to its limit, suggests that an even wider area, including the Devil's Arrows at Boroughbridge, is a vast landscape of prehistoric significance.

It is a fiendishly difficult issue for the county council to deal with. The conservationists have already demonstrated how important it is in their eyes. The issue's importance to Tarmac Northern is now also underlined.

12:20pm Friday 28th July 2006
http://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/commentopinion/display.var.856025.0.raising_the_stakes.php

Hill of Tara — News

Chief Justice Postpones Setting Hearing Date for Hill of Tara M3 Case


PRESS RELEASE

TaraWatch

29 June 2006

'Chief Justice Postpones Setting Hearing Date for Hill of Tara M3 Case'

The setting of a hearing date in the Hill of Tara / M3 motorway case was postponed today by the Chief Justice, the Hon. Mr. Justice John Murray. He said he will set a hearing date after written submissions were received by The Attorney General, The Minister for the Environment, Meath County Council, and the National Roads Authority, due on 24th July.

Gerard Hogan, SC, Counsel for the Appellant, Mr. Vincent Salafia, asked for an early hearing date to be set, since he had given undertakings in the High Court that he would do so.

Chief Justice Murray questioned whether there was any urgency in the case, since there is no injunction in place and no stoppage of works.

Counsel for Meath County Council argued that there as a "considerable shadow" hanging over the project in relation to the public private partnership contract, which cannot be signed until the matter is through the courts.

This morning Chief Justice Murray also set a date of July 28th for
delivery of judgment in the Carrickmines Castle case, which has been postponed a number of times already. The judgment in this case will have a significant impact on the Tara proceedings, since it will address whether or not there is a constitutional duty on the Government to protect the national heritage. Justice Laffoy had stated in her High Court opinion that there was in fact a "constitutional imperative" to protect these assets.

ENDS

'Early Supreme Court Hearing Date Sought in Hill of Tara / M3


PRESS RELEASE

TaraWatch

29 June 2006

'Early Supreme Court Hearing Date Sought in Hill of Tara / M3
Motorway Case'

The first appearance before the Supreme Court for the Hill of Tara / M3
motorway case will take place Thursday, 29th June, at 11.00AM.

The case of Vincent Salafia -v- Minister for the Environment, Heritage
and Local Government; The Attorney General; Meath County Council and
the National Roads Authority is being appealed from the High Court
decision of Mr Justice Thomas Smyth, wherein he denied relief to Mr.
Salafia in March 2006.

Mr Salafia is judicially reviewing the Directions given my Minister
Dick Roche in May 2005, under the National Monuments Act 2004, in
relation to excavation and demolition of 38 archaeological sites, along
one of five sections of the M3, between Navan and Dunshaughlin.

Mr Salafia is claiming that the Directions, along with the Act, are
unconstitutional and that the M3 motorway passes through the Tara
national monument, as well as associated national monuments.

Counsel for the Petitioner, Mr. Salafia; Gerard Hogan, SC; Frank
Callanan, SC; and Colm MacEochaidh, BL, will be seeking an early
hearing in the case.

Mr Salafia said:

"There has been no delay in the M3 caused by this case, as
archaeological works are proceeding as planned and are due to be
completed in early 2007.

"We are anxious to have the legality of the works determined as quickly
as possible, so as to avoid any unnecessary delays or costs."

The Thornborough Henges — News

Firm to challenge Thornborough quarry ruling


A quarry company yesterday confirmed it is to challenge the rejection of controversial plans to extract sand and gravel from land close to a 5,000-year-old monument site.

Tarmac Northern employs 15 full-time workers at Nosterfield quarry, between Bedale and Ripon, in North Yorkshire, where supplies are expected to be exhausted within the next two years.

It sought planning consent to extract 2.2m tonnes over four years from 112 acres at nearby Ladybridge Farm, half a mile from the nearest of three Neolithic earthwork henges outside the village of Thornborough.

The henges have been described as the Stonehenge of the North.

The site represents a scheduled ancient monument with legal protection, but campaigners who bombarded North Yorkshire County Council with protests insisted that its immediate surroundings, including Ladybridge, must be saved from the effects of more quarrying.

In February, the application was rejected by six votes to three by the county council's planning committee.

Tarmac, which warned that the decision could lead to job losses, said yesterday it will appeal and seek a public inquiry, but a spokesman indicated that this was still not the end of the story.

Bob Nicholson, Tarmac estates manager for the area, said: "We are anxious to safeguard employment and maintain supply from the quarry to the construction industry.

"We are also discussing the possibility of a revised application for a smaller extraction area at Ladybridge, avoiding areas which were the subject of archaeological concern.

"Nosterfield is recognised as being a well-run quarry, close to the A1 for transport purposes, with a good record of co-operating with the community and with the various archaelogical, environmental and wildlife protection agencies.

We hope to achieve a fair balance taking account of all interests, including continuity of employment and supply of construction materials."

Alwyn Shaw, head of minerals at the county council, said no revised planning application had been received.

link
here

Silbury Hill (Artificial Mound) — News

Silbury Repair Schedule Announced


As you may have seen in the Press English Heritage recently announced the appointment of engineering contractor Skanska to take forward the next stage of repair work to Silbury Hill. Skanska will now begin working with English Heritage to draw up detailed repair plans for the Hill.

The repairs will tackle the damage caused to the Hill after a collapse of the infilling to a shaft at the top of the Hill in 2000. The brief for engineers was prepared by English Heritage and a team of expert advisors, and its aim is to find the best method for returning the Hill to its original state and preserving its long term stability. As well as permanently infilling the collapse to the head of the shaft, the works will involve the thorough backfilling of tunnels at the base of the hill, and repair the slumping on the sides of the Hill. The chosen method for backfilling is to re-enter the Hill through the 1968 Atkinson tunnel to its centre.

Skanska won the work after presenting a detailed submission covering practical design and construction techniques, risk management plans and an approach integrating the archaeological and construction elements of the project. The firm proposes using the Atkinson's original supports and additional temporary props to keep disturbance of the Hill's archaeology to an absolute minimum. Archaeologists will be working alongside the contactors to make a record of the internal structure of the Hill and take samples to recover palaeoenvironmental evidence and material for radiocarbon dating.

Skanska has worked with English Heritage on Silbury Hill in the past, contributing to the specialist stability survey work carried out on the Hill since 2000. The firm was selected for this phase of the work because the project board felt their submission best demonstrated how the brief could be safely met with the least risk of disruption to the Hill's archaeology and within a realistic timeframe and budget.

The development of detailed repair plans is now expected to take six months. Depending on the outcome of this development work, English Heritage hopes to commission the full repairs by Skanska and announce the start of repair work in Spring 2007. The repair project will be accompanied by a programme of archaeological investigation, recording and sampling.

We are working on the outreach and publicity programme. The relevant pages on the EH website will soon be up-dated which you will be able to access for future information.

Yours sincerely

Dr Robert H Bewley

Planning & Development Regional Director SW

English Heritage

Stonehenge and its Environs — News

Hopes rise for "an end to Stonehenge neglect"


Hopes rise for "an end to Stonehenge neglect"

Campaigners for early improvements to the surroundings of Stonehenge have expressed delight that a number of high profile organisations have now called for the same thing.

"Everyone who has visited Stonehenge knows what a mess the surroundings are" said George Chaplin of Timewatch. "There is a lot to do, yet there has been nothing but talking and arguing for years. But it struck us that some first steps could be taken almost straight away, particularly closing part of the side road that runs right past the stones, and that everyone would agree about that. So we got together with Heritage Action and launched a call for "Achievable Stonehenge", obvious improvements that could be started very soon without waiting for the longer term issues to be finalised."

"It seems we really struck a chord" said fellow campaigner Nigel Swift of Heritage Action. "Everyone seems to think it is a great idea and this week the whole concept has had a huge boost. A group of major heritage organisations like the National Trust, the Council for British Archaeology, Friends of the Earth and lots of others have issued a joint press release calling for the same approach."

"The government is due to make an announcement about the whole Stonehenge issue this summer" added Mr Swift. "They are running a public consultation to gauge opinion and it looks as if the public is very clear about this issue at least and definitely wants the job tackled in two stages with the first stage made a matter of urgency. We are hoping that a huge number of people will sign our petition. If we can achieve that, then together with the call from the other organisations, the government will be sent a message that can't be ignored."

The "Stop the Neglect of Stonehenge" campaign and petition can be seen at http://www.heritageaction.org/?page=heritagealerts_stonehenge

Heritage Action have illustrated the simplicity of their idea by releasing "before" and "after" photographs of Stonehenge.

Hill of Tara — News

Bertie's buds vandalising our past


An unexpected comment in the Sunday World, written by Paddy Murray -

There will have been, I don't doubt, unbridled joy in the Department of the environment – an Orwellian name if ever there was one – at the news the vandalising of Tara, is actually, legal. It quite simply beggars belief that we are to preserve a nondescript building on Moore Street because Pádraig Pearse and some of the other 1916 leaders spent, at most, a couple of days there while at the same time we bulldoze through the part of the country that was, without argument, the cradle of our identity for thousands of years.

What a pity Pádraig Pearse never stopped in the Tara Skryne Valley to have a slash against a tree. If he had, Bertie and rest of the increasingly green Fianna Failers – with Dick Roche on their coattails – would be damning those calling for the destruction of an area of such national importance.

Sadly, though, the country is in the hands of Philistines – it is run by people who give the appearance of never having read a book, at least not one without a pictures in it. It is administered by those for whom profit is everything and culture is nothing. I hope they call it the Dick Roche motorway – future generations are entitled to know who vandalised our history.

The Thornborough Henges — News

Call to protect henges for all time


Fragment from Yorkshire Today web site:
[Timewatch] spokesman George Chaplin said: "The threat of quarrying has not been removed by the planning refusal but it has given time to take stock and for everyone to agree upon the best future for the whole area."

The Timewatch proposals are for:

- a much wider "no quarry zone" extending at least a mile radius from the central monuments

- the preservation of all archaeology within the zone to be the top priority
Read the full article on the Yorkshire Today web site:

http://www.ripontoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=18&ArticleID=1365226

Ancient Site Looks Safe From Quarry Diggers


From an article by Brian Dooks, published on 15th February 2006 in the Yorkshire Post:
English Heritage wants 'Stonehenge of the North' preserved after claiming it is of archaeological importance.

Controversial plans for sand and gravel quarrying near Thornborough Henges in North Yorkshire look set to founder as new research offers further evidence the ancient monument was aligned with the stars.

Councillors have been urged to turn down an application to quarry 112 acres of land on a site just over half a mile away from the henges at Ladybridge Farm, near Masham, amid claims they are of national importance.

Last year councillors deferred a decision on plans by Tarmac Northern to extract a further 2.2 million tonnes of minerals by extending the existing Nosterfield Quarry after English Heritage claimed that archaeological investigation of the site had been insufficient.

Further archaeological work has taken place which has confirmed that features from the Neolithic or Bronze Age period are confined to an area of slightly higher land in the south west part of the site.
Read the full article on the Yorkshire Today web site:

http://www.yorkshiretoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=55&ArticleID=1351443

Vixen Tor (Cist) — News

Terror on the Tor


By Mark Ford
09:30 - 20th October 2005

The spectre of occult practices in the West reared its head yesterday as
police investigated a second case of ritual sheep slaughter near an ancient
Pagan altar on an isolated moor.

Six sheep were found with their necks broken and their eyes removed on land
at Moortown near the edge of Dartmoor. Four of their bodies were arranged
in a regular square shape, another two were lying next to a pattern of stones.

In January, seven sheep were found just half-a-mile away in the same eerie
shadow of Vixen Tor. Again their necks were broken, and this time
chillingly arranged in the shape of a heptagram - a seven-pointed star
symbol, linked for centuries with the dark arts and Black Magic rituals.

Now, the Western Daily Press can reveal that police are connecting the
incidents with the presence of an ancient Pagan sacrificial altar, the
stone remains of which are located just to the east of the tor.

"Our understanding is that this place used to be some sort of meeting place
for Pagans," said a spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police.

"To the east of Vixen Tor there is evidence of an ancient stone sacrificial
altar.

They added: "We are investigating this as a matter of criminal damage.

"People obviously have their right to practise their religion, but when
that involves damaging, or in this case killing, other people's property,
it becomes a crime." The dead sheep, worth £600, were still warm when they
were found by their owner, farmer Daniel Alford, on Sunday morning.
He has little doubt the shocking incident has its roots in Pagan ritual.

"You hear of all sorts of crazy stuff like that around Dartmoor, it's that
sort of place, people believe in all sorts of strange things," he said
yesterday.

"It is a bit unsettling knowing that someone has been creeping around up
there doing this, but there's not a lot we can do, it's such a vast area.

"There were the four sheep and then 10ft or 15ft away there were another
two, which were laid next to three stones which had been arranged in a
pattern," he said.

"The stones looked like a kind a of gateway, a similar thing that had been
found in January.

"After talking to a few people we established that it was probably
something to do with Janus the Pagan god of January and the beginning of
the New Year and banishing evil spirits.

"What this one is about, I've no idea. It was a full moon."

In this case, the eyes were completely removed from the sheep, and there
were no signs of the messy pecking that could attribute the loss to an
attack by birds.

Police confirmed the animals had their necks quickly broken and there were
no indications of a prolonged struggle or suffering.

It is thought at least two people would have to had to have been involved,
given the sheer physical strength needed for the killing and arranging of
the sheep.

Vixen Tor and the Alford family have gained notoriety recently in a
high-profile right-to-roam row with ramblers, walkers and climbers.

In 2003, the Alfords controversially ended 30 years of permitted access to
the tor on the grounds they could be held liable if there was an accident
on it.

Earlier this year, the decision was upheld by an inquiry inspector who
ruled against opening up the land under Countryside and Rights of Way
legislation.

Last month those demanding access to the tor and the land it stands on
mounted a peaceful protest on the Alfords' land.

Yesterday Daniel Alford said he did not believe the clash over access was
in anyway connected to the disturbing finds.

"I really don't think it is the sort of thing the Thermos flask brigade
would get involved in," he said.

http://www.westpress.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=146049&command=displayContent&sourceNode=145779&contentPK=13351104

The Thornborough Henges — News

Call for independent henges opinion


Campaigners are calling for an independent assessment by archaeologists of the threatened quarry site near the Thornborough Henges.
Last week North Yorkshire County Council put off a decision on controversial plans by quarry firm Tarmac to extract 2.2 million tonnes of sand a gravel from the Ladybridge Farm site, half a mile from the triple henge complex north of Ripon.

But campaign group TimeWatch has voiced concerns regarding the agreed strategy of allowing Tarmac a further four months to carry out research into the archaeology at the proposed quarry site.

The group has now called on North Yorkshire councillors to ensure that the archaeological work due to be carried out at Ladybridge is done by an independent third party.

"There is a massive gulf between Tarmac and the rest of the archaeological world regarding the importance of Thornborough's archaeology," said George Chaplin, chairman of TimeWatch.

"Now that Tarmac's evaluation has effectively been rejected by the council, we are pressing to get this new evaluation done by an independent third party otherwise we can see that this confused situation will only continue.

"For more than three years Tarmac have abjectly refused to accept the notion that there could be archaeology of national importance at Ladybridge. This line has remained unchanged despite the protestations of a great many archaeologists, campaigners and now English Heritage.

"When Tarmac was faced with rejection of the planning application, they ask for a delay, not so they can work out how much nationally important archaeology they are looking at, but to try yet again to prove that it is not important at all.

"This is turning into a critical situation, one that could have ramifications for every major heritage site in North Yorkshire."

Tarmac's existing Nosterfield Quarry, close to the henges, is nearing the end of its working life and the firm wants to continue production by expanding on to the adjacent Ladybridge site.

The firm's estates manager, Bob Nicholson, said: "The application site is more than half a mile from the nearest henge and in our view truly poses no threat to the monument. Tarmac has no wish or intention to affect the henges but naturally we want to continue in production and keep the employment in place."

Commenting on the deferment of a decision on their application, he said: "The deferment will give time to discuss the archaeological aspects with English Heritage in more detail and hopefully reach an informed decision based on additional factual evidence if required."

The county council is expected to consider the matter again in January.
30 September 2005

http://www.ripontoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=18&ArticleID=1207264

Monument Quarry Decision Deferred


Campaigners opposing plans for quarrying near an ancient monument in North Yorkshire must wait until the New Year for a decision by councillors.
Tarmac has applied to quarry sand and gravel at Ladybridge Farm, north of Ripon, near Thornborough Henges.

Opponents fear it could destroy clues about the 5,000-year-old earthworks' history but Tarmac says the land could cope with quarrying and conservation.

A decision was deferred on Tuesday to await a full report in January.

On Tuesday North Yorkshire County Council issued a statement saying: "Today's meeting has decided to defer this matter to allow a further archaeological investigation to be carried out.

"We hope to have a full report for members to consider in January."

Members of the North Yorkshire County Council planning board had visited the site in August and were recommended to refuse permission by planning officers.

The henges are believed to be one of Britain's largest ritual gathering places from the Neolithic period.


The henges are in open countryside near the A1

Local campaign group TimeWatch has collected a petition of more than 10,000 signatures against the plans which would see work about half a mile away from the henges.

It said the quarry would contribute to the permanent loss of nationally important archaeology.

US-based conservation group the Landmarks Foundation has also voiced its concern at the quarry proposals, describing them as a tragedy.

But several people have expressed their support for the quarry extension.

Tarmac already has a quarry at Nosterfield, close to the ancient henges which consist of three earthworks built in a line running north-south for about a mile.

Workers at the Nosterfield Quarry and local building firms have sent in 80 letters and a 350-signature petition arguing that more than 50 livelihoods depend on the application's approval.

Tarmac has said the extension is on farmland where there is only "thin and scattered" evidence of prehistoric activity, according to a recent study by archaeological consultants.

The actual henges are under no threat from quarrying because of their status as protected ancient monuments, the company added.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/4261022.stm

Decision-makers urged to reject quarrying near henges


Decision-makers urged to reject quarrying near henges

From the archive, first published Wednesday 14th Sep 2005.

THE long and often acrimonious battle over the future of one of Britain's most important archaeological sites will come to a head next week.

At a meeting in Masham town hall, North Yorkshire county councillors will decide on the future of quarrying operations by the 5,000-year-old Thornborough henges.

In a major blow for quarry operator Tarmac, they are being recommended to throw out plans to extend extractions near the three large Neolithic earthworks.

Planning officials said the proposal would have "an unacceptable impact on nationally important archaeological remains".

They also said the move would be contrary to the authority's policy on mineral extraction and that there was no overriding need for it.

Tarmac Northern wants to extend Nosterfield Quarry at Ladybridge Farm, Thornborough, near Ripon, to extract 2.2 million tonnes of sand and gravel over four years.

An application was submitted in June last year and immediately brought protests from those who feared for the future of the henges, about a kilometre south-east of the extension area.

Almost 850 letters of objection and three petitions with a total of 9,680 signatures were sent in. Some of the objections came from overseas.

The Council for British Archaeology, Yorkshire Archaeology Society and action groups the Friends of Thornborough Henges and Timewatch also submitted detailed responses calling for the scheme to be rejected.

Tarmac has insisted throughout that the development would pose no threat to the henges, saying the extension would be further from the earthworks than the existing quarry site.

Yesterday, their response to the recommendation to refuse permission was muted.

Tarmac Northern estates manager Bob Nicholson said: "We have only just learnt of the officers' recommendation and will need to study the report to committee in detail before we are able to comment further."

Councillors will meet at 1pm on Tuesday, and the public turnout is expected to be high. The chairman of Timewatch, George Chaplin, was not making any early celebrations yesterday.

He said: "The messages we are getting are that refusal is far from certain."

http://archive.thisisthenortheast.co.uk/2005/9/14/206072.html

Hill of Tara — News

Tara campaign stepped up


The Tara SOS week programme of protests will be launched with a 1
hour protest commencing 10am at Dublin Castle on Saturday 03.09.05.
This protest will coincide with the Themed tour and readings
titled 'The Irish Revolution (1913-23' in Dublin Castle.

Later in the day at 1.30pm (September 3rd) a later protest will also
be held at the same venue to coincide with the O'Carolan harp recital
in Dublin Castle at 1.30 in the afternoon

New Placards, and leaflets covering Tara's history, lore and heroes
will be launched. A strong turnout is essential.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, 04.09.05

------------------

Dublin - Volunteers Needed

All Ireland Semi-final, meeting at 2pm at GPO - educational talk
about C€ ¦ú Chulainn Statue and Tara, etc at GPO followed by 1.5hrs
of
leafleting the 82,000 crowd at Croke Park

----------------------------------------------------------------
Co. Meath - Volunteers Needed

Sunday, 04.09.05

All Day Protest in the Car park, Loughcrew, Oldcastle, Co. Meath
to coincide with the Free guided tours of Cairn T. Time: 10.00am -
5.00pm

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Co. Mayo - Volunteers Needed

Charlestown Town Hall Arts Centre, Barrack Street, Entrance to the
right of the Library entrance (same building) beneath Health Centre.
Photographic exhibition: `Portraits of an Irish Town'. Sunday
2.00 -
6.00pm
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Co. Cork - Volunteers Needed

Courtyard of Barryscourt Castle, Carrigtwohill, Co Cork. Re-
enactments of military life in Norman times. September 4th, all day.

Garinish Island, Glengarriff, Co Cork. Tour of Italian garden.
September 4th, 12.30pm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Co. Waterford - Volunteers Needed

Dungarvan Castle, Co Waterford, tours relating to the castle's
history. September 4th, 12.30pm and 3pm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Co. Donegal - Volunteers Needed

International Clann tSuibhne (Sweeney clan) gathering, Letterkenny,
Co Donegal, September 4-10th.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Co. Galway - Volunteers Needed

Connemara National Park visitor centre, Letterfrack, Co Galway.
Guided nature walk. September 5th, 10.30am.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Campaigner unveils 'alternative' M3 route


PRESS STATEMENT - TARAWATCH - 19TH AUGUST O4 - 4.30
PM

A new campaigning group - Tarawatch - has been formed. The
group sees it's role as articulating the opinion of the 70% of the
irish population who are against the routing of the proposed M3
through the Tara Complex. The group is determined to keep the
issue at the forefront of public debate in the run-up to a high
court challenge to the Governments decision.

The group's first public action took place today at the M50
tool-booth operated by National Toll Roads who are part of the
consortium most likely to build and collect tolls on the proposed
M3 for the next 25 years as part of a Private Public partnership
arrangement.

Leaflets were distributed at the action to motorists informing
them:

- that the Clonee to Kells motorway will have two toll booths for a
initial contract period of 45 years
- that one toll booth will be located north and the other south of
the Hill of Tara
- that profits from these tolls will go to a private corporation and
not the exchequer
- that NTR has been selected as the preferred bidder on the M3
Public Private Partnership (PPP) contract
- that NTR are part of Eurolink, along with SISK and Cintra
Construction PLC (Spain).
- that the profit from their tolls will pay for destruction of Tara
- that a shorter cheaper route to the west of the tara complex is
available
- that commuting problems on the M50 are likely to get much
worse

A member of Tarawatch, Michael Canney said "The government
are attempting to frame the debate over the M3 in terms of
heritage and environmental campaigners VS the commuter and
motorist. We have set out today to convince motorists that the
length of commuting times is the real problem and that the lack
of public transport alternatives is contributing greatly to it. All of
this is a result of failed housing and transport strategies". Mr.
Canney continued: "To add insult to injury, the long distance
commuter will now see their toll money, paid to NTR, used to
fund the M3. In effect their monies are going to be used by this
company to destroy the Tara complex".

The new group sees itself as an extending and broadening the
already existing campaign against the plan to run the new M3
through the Tara-Skryne Valley. It intends to be action oriented
and will be launching a major website next week.

Another member of the group said: "The government have
overruled their own experts, ignored national and international
academic opinion and resisted and slandered those seeking to
challenge their actions through the courts. We are now
beginning to mobilise for the next stage of the campaign. We
represent the majority of public opinion on this issue and we will
not allow this opinion to be ignored."

Campaigner unveils 'alternative' M3 route
By Elaine Edwards Ireland.com Last updated: 19-08-05, 16:39


A campaigner against the proposed route of the new M3 motorway near
the Hill of Tara in Co Meath has presented an alternative route for
the road, again urging that it be re-routed to avoid the historic
site.


A campaign graphic voicing opposition to the proposed M3 route
In a briefing on his legal action against the Government, lawyer
Vincent Salafia claimed that 70 per cent of more than 1,000
respondents in a recent survey by research group RED C favoured a
different route for the M3, which will run from Clonee to Kells,
bypassing Dunshaughlin and Navan.

The campaigner said he had separated himself from the Tarawatch
protest group because he did not want them exposed to liability in
the event that he loses his High Court action against the route. He
said he was personally exposed financially if he loses the
forthcoming case.

Campaigners and their advisors are awaiting judgment from the Supreme
Court in a case related to the controversy over the Carrickmines
Castle site in Dublin. The outcome may have an effect on their legal
argument in the Tara case, which centres on technical points in
legislation under which the Minister for the Environment consented to
the route.

Mr Salafia expressed concern about the fact that no public hearing on
tolling had yet been heard, even though it has been widely reported
that the Eurolink consortium will toll the route and also receive a
State subsidy.

Mr Salafia today presented what he said was a professionally designed
and "legally acceptable" engineering solution which would protect the
Hill of Tara. The alternative route is up to 2km shorter between
Navan and Dunshaughlin and brings the M3 nearer to Trim, which would
make sense he said.

"The NRA and the Government are saying 'you must allow us to build
this motorway through Tara or you must sit in traffic jams; it's the
only solution'. You, the motorist, and the citizen, were promised
upgrades and by-passes years ago, do not allow them to foist a
destructive, wasteful and unsustainable - but highly lucrative -
motorway as a bullying tactic now," he said.

"The only people who will benefit from the construction of the M3 are
the toll road operators and property speculators. The same company
who operate the M50 toll (NTR) have been selected as the preferred
bidder, they will operate it and profit from it in exactly the same
way. The prospect of large retail and commercial developments at
junctions along the route is a prime motivation behind large land
transfers in the Meath area."

The NRA insists that the route chosen makes most sense economically
and that it will run further from the Hill of Tara than the existing
N3. However, Mr Salafia said Tara had to be considered a complex and
that it wasn't confined to the hill itself. He wants the entire
complex declared a World Heritage Site.

Green Party TD Ciaran Cuffe said he would like to see the matter
brought back before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the
Environment, which is chaired by the Fianna F€ ¦áil TD Sean Haughey.

Mr Haughey has previously said that plans to run the route through
the Tara area were "bordering on vandalism" against one of the most
important historic sites in the country.

Mr Cuffe said today: "It's about time he put his money where his
mouth is and moved it on."

The Green Party TD also said he believed there was public concern
about some of the investigation methods currently being used on sites
around Tara. Diggers are in operation on a number of the sites and
some environmentalists claim they may cause irreparable damage to
terrain or artifacts of archeological and historical significance.

Sinn F€ ¦éin TD Aongus € ¦Ó Snodaigh said his party favoured rerouting the
road alongside the development of public transport alternatives such
as a rail line to Navan.

"My main point is the protection of our natural environment and also
our archeological and historical heritage. Anyone who has any
understanding of history will understand that the outlying area is
often more important than the site itself. If you start to destroy
the landscape you lose the sense of what was there."

Tara Day - August 15th 2005


The people of Ireland are invited to visit the Hill of Tara on August 15th. Tara Day, to express their opposition to the proposed twice-tolled Motorway through the Gabhra (TaraSkryne) Valley. Information will be available on the 38 sites along the proposed route, including those presently being excavated and others that may be investigated in the future. Maps will be available and everyone is invited to visit these sites that lie so close to the bottom of the Hill. People are asked to gather from 3 p.m. onwards and at 7 p.m. we invite any politicians who wish to join us for information and photographs.

The 15th of August has been chosen for this event because on August 15th 1843 Daniel O'Connell held a monster meeting at Tara attended by an estimated 750,000 people. These people held a belief that the strength of their unity could make a difference to their freedom. That same flicker of belief burns deep within us all.

Daniel O'Connell was not alone in choosing Tara as a rallying or battle point. Many others saw Tara as the location from which to launch a campaign. It was used by Brian Boru, by the O'Neill's in the sixteenth century and was the focal point of the 1641 rebellion. There was also a skirmish there during the 1798 rebellion.

One of the major battles between the Norse and the high-king of Ireland was the Battle of Tara fought between Mael Sechlainn and Olaf Cuaran for the prize of the kingdom of Brega (the land surrounding Tara) and for Tara itself.

The public are asked to bring their county flags and the tri-colour with them to express their support of those who oppose the routing of the proposed road through the Valley. People are also invited to bring flags or banners representing various issues they might be trying to highlight in their own communities.

The National Roads Authority and Meath County Council have issued a propaganda pack on the archaeological aspects of the M3 and this is being selectively distributed countrywide. The pack includes a CD outlining how the proposed motorway might fit into the landscape.

However, Rath Lugh, one of the main outposts of Tara, has been
completely ignored. Perhaps the NRA and MCC do not want the public to know that it would be separated from its core, The impact on Skryne is also overlooked. Public taxpayers money is again being spent to promote a PPP project. The cost of this propaganda exercise is being investigated.

spokes@sacredireland.org

www.sacredireland.org

The Thornborough Henges — News

Tarmac offers land next to henges gift


Quarry firm Tarmac is offering to give 60 acres of land adjacent the ancient Thornborough Henges to the nation.
The company, currently in dispute with conservationists over its plans to extend quarrying operations near the 5,000 year old site, says its "significant donation" will help ensure the preservation of the henges.

But the offer by Tarmac has been given a cautious welcome by campaigners, amid accusations the gesture was both 'a public relations exercise' and 'a fob'.

Announcing the offer, Tarmac area director Simon Phillips said: "We are proposing to gift the area of land to English Heritage or alternatively to a suitable charitable trust."

Tarmac has previously discussed the long term management of the henges with English Heritage, but in the past they have declined the opportunity to take over direct responsibility. "We hope they will consider this new proposal and agree to the significant donation we have offered today," said Mr Phillips.

"The monument is attracting increasing numbers of visitors and we believe the time is right for this area of land to be donated to an appropriate conservation body.

"The gift will enable the area to be put down in perpetuity to pasture. For the first time ever, the immediate setting of the northern henge will be preserved forever as an archaeological reserve.

"The preservation of the henges is vitally important to us all, and we look forward to working with English Heritage and North Yorkshire County Council to develop this charitable trust."

In response, chairman of the Friends of Thornborough, Jon Lowery said: "My initial reaction is we have got to welcome any such move but the devil is in the detail – to whom will it be given?

"Of course, we have to realise all this talk about preserving the heritage is all a fob. The whole thing is a public relations exercise – they are not there as a benevolent organisation, they are there as a mining company."

Chairman of campaign group TimeWatch, George Chaplin, also urged caution.

"The fact is, the ritual landscape of the Thornborough Henges covers a great deal more than 60 acres and whilst we welcome this offer, we think that this may be a case of Tarmac attempting to buy off the protestors without taking into account the true extent of the archaeology," he said.

"However, this does mean that Tarmac are now willing to accept that preserving the archaeology of the Thornborough Henges is important."

North Yorkshire County Council is expected to make a decision on Tarmac's planning application for quarrying at Ladybridge Farm, half a mile from the henges, in September.
29 July 2005

http://www.ripontoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=18&ArticleID=1099950

Hill of Tara — News

Protest Against Digging at Tara - 25th July


The Save the TaraSkryne Valley Group call on all concerned citizens to join them in a peaceful protest at the so-called "archaeological" dig at the foot of Tara's Hill. This will be held on Monday 25th July at 7pm at Philpotstown/Blundelstown.

The site is well marked by the archaeological company on the N3 just north of the entrance to Tara as you travel in the Navan direction. We will collect at the gate where the site is visible.

Recent photographs in the newspapers show that the top of the Hill is clearly visible from this area. The coffee shop and church can be seen clearly in the distance. Photographs show topsoil being lifted by diggers and driven over by caterpillar wheels. More recently, pick axes are being used in 3 foot trenches.

Donald Murphy, managing director of Archaeological Consultancy Services Ltd. said at a public seminar in Dalgan Park on the 11th June: "There won't be big 22 tonne mechanical excavators just rooting the topsoil off the top." He also stated: "The excavations as they take place … will be open to the public for viewing." This is not the experience of the public heretofore. This is the company who were responsible for the excavations at Woodstown. He also admitted: "We are not experts on Tara."

Minister Roche stated: "I am satisfied that the directions I have issued will ensure best practice in the carrying out of the archaeological work … They will protect heritage." But Pat Wallace of the National Museum stated in his letter to the Minister regarding excavators: "The chances of retrieving archaeological objects in the face of heavy machinery of this sort are … very limited indeed."

Muireann Ní Bhrolcháin, PRO for the Save TaraSkryne Valley group said:
"Public money is being wasted on this unnecessary excavation. This is not research archaeology. Lowest standards are being applied to our most important archaeological, literary, historical and sacred landscape. This is wanton destruction and vandalism. The insistence on this particular route and the methods used is just sinister."

The Thornborough Henges — News

BBC - Gravel plan at monument discussed


Controversial plans to extend quarrying near an ancient monument known as the Stonehenge of the north are being discussed by councillors.

Tarmac has applied to extend its sand and gravel operations at a site near Thornborough Henges, North Yorkshire.

If approved, campaigners fear the work could destroy clues as to why the 5,000-year-old earthworks were built.

Tarmac said only scattered evidence of prehistoric activity had been found at the Ladybridge Farm site, near Ripon.

On Tuesday, members of the North Yorkshire County Council planning board will discuss the application for quarrying at the farm.


Local campaign group Timewatch, which has collected a petition of more than 1,500 signatures against the plans, said the quarry would cause the permanent loss of nationally important archaeology.

US-based conservation group the Landmarks Foundation has described the quarry proposals as a tragedy.

The henges are believed to represent one of Britain's largest ritual gathering places from the Neolithic period.

Tarmac already has a quarry at Nosterfield, close to the ancient henges which consist of three earthworks built in a line running north-south for about a mile.

Tarmac has said the planned quarry extension is on farmland where there is only "thin and scattered" evidence of prehistoric activity, according to a recent study by archaeological consultants.

The company has said archaeologists would be present on the site and if they found anything of significance, they had the power to stop quarrying activity.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/4693695.stm

Published: 2005/07/18 18:36:30 GMT

Yorkshire — News

First road map to put the region's historic assets on track


English Heritage 205/06/05
8th June 2005

A blueprint to revitalise the historic environment in Yorkshire and
the Humber, putting it at the centre of regeneration, is unveiled
today (Thursday 9 June).

The plan - contained in a new publication called "Investing in
Yorkshire's Heritage" - sets out investment priorities over the next
five years, focused on action in the forthcoming year. It has been
produced by the Yorkshire Historic Environment Forum (YHEF),
comprising 19 organisations, including English Heritage, The National
Trust, Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Houses Association and
Yorkshire Forward.

In the first ever document of its kind, the heritage sector has
worked in unison to answer two questions: where should we target
limited resources and how do we lever-in more funding to tap the
potential of the region's historic environment? Individual projects
regarded as crucial to the sector are identified. They include:

* Effective management of Thornborough Henges, near Ripon
* Appraisal of conservation areas under development pressure in
Leeds, Malton and Norton and the Vales of York and Mowbray.
* Restoration of the Royal Hall Harrogate, Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds,
and Darnall Works, Sheffield.

The forum has also highlighted thirteen overall investment goals, of
which seven are earmarked as "paramount", including:

* Tackling labour market shortages in conservation skills - a problem
particularly acute in local authorities and the construction
industry. The challenge is highlighted in today's publication of
crafts and skills research by the National Heritage Training Group,
backed by ConstructionSkills and English Heritage. It reports nearly
a quarter of such vacancies in the region go unfilled.

* Surveying, recording and interpreting historic sites under
development pressure, so we know what is important and why.

* Focusing restoration grants on grade I and II* buildings,
especially those in private ownership, industrial buildings and those
under threat from development pressure.

* Ensuring that the implementation of regeneration initiatives, such
as Yorkshire Forward's Renaissance programme, recognise the historic
environment is an opportunity not a constraint.

* Marketing and enhancing existing historic tourist attractions.

* Developing educational outreach initiatives to break down barriers
that leave many people disengaged from the historic environment.

David Fraser, Chair of the Yorkshire Historic Environment said:

"We are fortunate in Yorkshire and the Humber to have such a rich
historic environment from high quality streetscapes, to mills,
workshops, stately homes and opulent parks. But we think this
priceless asset can carry more clout and have a greater impact on
improving the quality of life. A well cared for historic environment
makes the region a more attractive place for inward investment,
provides sustainable housing and office accommodation, earns tourist
revenue and provides a tangible sense of who we are in Yorkshire.
This document underpins our aspirations in these area and many more.
By acting together, organisations working in the heritage sector can
have greater impact and ensure money is spent where it's most needed.
But our greater ambition is to ensure more resources are invested in
historic buildings, areas and landscapes."

According to the document, the region's historic environment
generates £1.2 billion through tourism alone, attracting around nine
million people each year and supporting 35,000 jobs. Progress on
targets will be published in the annual "Heritage Counts" report,
also produced by the YHEF.

The Thornborough Henges — News

Pagan ritual used by campaigners


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/north_yorkshire/4505191.stm

Opponents say the plans threaten the 'Stonehenge of the North'
More than 100 pagans joined a fight against proposals to extend quarrying at a historic site in North Yorkshire.
Tarmac Northern wants to extend its present operations close to the Thornborough Henges ancient earthworks near Ripon.

The druids met at the site to mark the May Day ritual of Beltane, a pagan celebration of the height of spring.

Local archaeologists also joined the protest. The group claims the Henges are under threat from the quarrying.

The area has the greatest concentration of late Neolithic and early Bronze Age sites in the UK.

It also boasts the country's largest quarrying operation on prehistoric land, Nosterfield Quarry, which produces more than 500,000 tonnes of sand and gravel each year.

The firm says it is not seeking to quarry on the earthworks which form the three 5,000-year-old circles which may have been a ceremonial meeting place.

Burying treasures - Guardian


Burying treasures

There are no guarantees against development of land that is 'protected' or part of a national park. Paul Evans on how hundreds of sites are at risk

Wednesday April 13, 2005
The Guardian

Thornborough Henges, in the Vale of York near Ripon, is one of the largest complexes of megalithic sites in Britain. But the grassy ring of undulating earthworks - 5 metres high and some 250 metres in diameter, with other great rings beyond - is no Stonehenge. There are no signs guiding tourists to the site, no interpretation boards, ticket kiosks, or gift shops, just a fence and a locked gate.

You know when you get to this important archaeological site because of the sound of bulldozers. Thornborough Henges has Britain's largest quarrying operation on prehistoric land. Nosterfield Quarry - run by construction firm Tarmac Northern - produces more than 500,000 tonnes of sand and gravel each year and, until last week, the firm was planning to extend its activities all around and right up to the site.

Following protests, it has now agreed not to quarry sand and gravel from the nearby Thornborough Moor, but is applying to expand its existing quarry by 45 hectares (111 acres), which at its closest point will be half a mile away from the nearest of the three Thornborough Henges. A Tarmac spokesman this week said: "We are committed to the protection of the monument and have provided financial assistance to English Heritage for its conservation plan study."

Although the rings will not be damaged, much of the historical landscape around them has already been destroyed by generations of quarrying, - something inconceivable at Stonehenge or at many sites of far less historical importance in the south of England.

David Austin, a landscape archaeologist and co-editor of the journal Landscapes is appalled. "Thornborough Henges have had a presence in the landscape for 5,000 years and every fibre of that [wider] landscape can tell us something about deep histories. But if this is stripped out by quarrying, we lose that history. We're back to year zero. It's an archaeological Pol Pot." The problem is that landscape protection in Britain is arbitrary, eccentric and frequently unable to stop the bulldozers. Almost one in three of Britain's designated 7,100 sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) are not in their target condition, and national parks and many sites of historical, ecological and cultural value are under threat from large scale developments.

The Welsh assembly has recently demanded that sand and gravel beds in the Usk estuary, which has SSSI status, be protected from future mining. Morlais Owen, chair of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales says: "These potential sand beds have not been evaluated for their quality, nor has there been an environmental impact assessment."

In Britain SSSI have been obliterated to make way for the Newbury bypass, the Twyford Down road, the M6 toll road, Fairmile, Manchester airport, and the Cardiff Bay development. It seems that having legal protection is just asking for trouble.

The problem, says the Campaign to Protect Rural England, is that no government has had the guts to revoke the archaic planning system that 50 years ago handed out mineral extraction permissions. According to Andy Tickle, senior countryside campaigner at the CPRE, these "dormant" quarries in national parks are "ticking time-bombs".

A recent report by Friends of the Peak District National Park revealed that there are 119 permissions in national parks across England: including 46 in the Peak District, 27 in the Lake District, 16 on Dartmoor and 14 in the Yorkshire Dales. All could re-open at any time until 2042.

More than a third of these old permissions have not been reviewed and 20 quarries are still working without any modern environmental control. Moreover, progress on closing damaging quarries using "prohibition orders" has been poor.

"There are still quarry sites in national parks and elsewhere that have not been reviewed and are working with no environmental impact assessment or control because of a presumption that permission was given years ago. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has said it will bring these quarries back under control, but it hasn't done so yet," says Tickle.

At Backdale Quarry in Derbyshire's Peak District National Park, quarrying restarted in July 2003. The operator, Merrimans of Leicester, had been given permission to remove a small amount of limestone in order to reach a vein of mineral fluorspar. But 175,000 tonnes of limestone later - which was sold as construction aggregate - and the fluorspar is still there.

The national park authority ordered Merrimans to stop in January, but the decision is being appealed against and next week will go to a public inquiry.

Just a few miles from Backdale quarry at Stanton Lees, protesters have for five years been camped out to try to protect the bronze age Nine Ladies stones from quarrying. Operator Stancliffe Stone is taking the Peak District National Park authority to court over its classification of the quarry as dormant. Stancliffe claims the quarry is active and that working it would not impact on the ancient monument.

"If the national park loses it will be awful," says Dot McGahan, a CPRE director. "Stancliffe could start quarrying or trade the site for another."

The quarry industry is pragmatic. "To close quarries down would mean a local authority buying out the owners," says Duncan Pollock, planning director of the Quarry Products Association (QPA). "In the Peak District National Park it would mean the park authority buying 137m tonnes of the permitted reserves at £5 per tonne."

Quarrying is believed to provide up to 10% of the UK's GDP. According to the QPA, each person in the UK generates 4 tonnes of aggregates a year (about 240m tonnes in total) and every new house uses 60 tonnes of quarry products. The Treasury's recent review of future housing needs by Kate Barker suggests that for supply to meet demand, 140,000 new houses must be built every year. That means some 8.4m extra tonnes of stone will have to be quarried annually.

Despite the demand being talked up in government plans, the QPA does not believe that there will be a significant increase in aggregate extraction. "During the construction boom of the 1980s the UK market was being supplied with 300m tonnes of aggregate," explains Jerry McLaughlin, a spokesman for QPA. "Today, the market is 200m tonnes of extracted aggregates and 65m tonnes of recycled material."

Although the association has a four-point plan that aims to control or phase out extraction from protected areas, it believes that if it is forced out of quarrying reserves in the Peak District and North Yorkshire, the industry would have to exploit other areas such as the East Midlands and Wales.

Not surprisingly, the QPA is not in favour of the aggregates levy, a tax on quarry companies to provide funds for communities suffering from thundering lorries, noise and dust from quarrying on their doorsteps. "The levy is a way of collecting money for the Treasury," says Pollock, "and is no incentive to improving local operations."

Back at Thornborough, it is not the henges that sit as ruins on the landscape; they have weathered the past 5,000 years. Instead, it is the landscape that is ruined.

The printed article includes a large image of the central henge credited to www.timewatch.org

http://society.guardian.co.uk/environment/story/0,14124,1457896,00.html

Henges: Tarmac gives moor pledge


Ripon Gazette - 18/03/05 - Henges: Tarmac gives moor pledge

By Lee Sobot.

A quarry firm has stated that it has no intention to extract sand and gravel
from Thornborough Moor - home of the Thornborough Henges - within the next
ten years.

Tarmac Northern Ltd is currently quarrying nearby Nosterfield Quarry and has
applied to quarry Ladybridge Farm half a mile from the henges next year.

The application has upset archaeological campaigners who say Ladybridge Farm
is part of the henges setting and fear Thornborough Moor may be next on
Tarmac's list.

But on Wednesday Tarmac declared they will "not be seeking Thornborough Moor
to be included for allocation in the forthcoming review of North Yorkshire
County Council's minerals local plan".

The review covers the next ten-year period and is designed to ensure that
the county can meet its supply quota to the local construction industry.

Tarmac Northern company estates manager Rob Moore said the decision was
taken after listening to concerns expressed by local people.

He said "Some had mistakenly believed that the henges were under threat from
the imminent minerals local plan review and believed that this allocation
would be tantamount to permission to extract sand and gravel from beneath
Thornborough Moor.

"We have said time and time again and repeat that the henges, which are
scheduled ancient monuments within a scheduled protection zone, are not
threatened by quarrying.

"We hope that this move will help to allay any fears and confusion that
people may have in relation to our current planning application, remove the
that there is time pressure to conserve the henges and allow time for a full
conservation plan study for the henges."

George Chaplin, chairman of TimeWatch, said the news was "welcomed" but
questioned Tarmac's commitment to staying away from Thornborough Moor long
term.

He said "What we would like is an uncomplicated, unambiguous statement from
Tarmac saying they have no intention ever of quarrying Thornborough Moor,
that should be pretty straightforward."

While John Lowry, chairman of Friends of Thornborough, said Tarmac's
declaration was "reassuring", he added "it is not relevant to the Ladybridge
Farm application which is our main concern, I think it is a bit of a red
herring.

"I suppose it is reassuring but we were never too worried about Thornborough
Moor - the chances of Tarmac being given permission to quarry Thornborough
Moor are pretty remote now that we have raised the profile. They could never
quarry right up to the henges - they are internationally important
recognised monuments."

* Tarmac is holding a public meeting on Wednesday at West Tanfield Memorial
Hall at 7.30pm. The company will provide updated reports on archaeology,
ecology and the proposals for Ladybridge Farm which, they say, have been
substantially revised following feedback from local residents.

The Thornborough Henges — Links

Sacred Vale


an interesting site that seeks to prevent the destruction of the henges by increasing their tourism potential.

TimeWatch.org Thornborough site


The place to get the latest on the campaign to save Thornborough. This is where the main campaign to save Thornborough runs. Come here for the petition, information, chat, downloads and a whole lot more. Don't miss the front page animation.

Definately the best Thornborough campaign information. But then again, I helped build it!

The Thornborough Henges — News

Powerful new challenge in Thornborough Henges fight


TimeWatch Media Release – 28.02.05

TimeWatch group launches major attack on Tarmac plc.

After six months of campaigning under the banner of Heritage Action, the Thornborough Campaign is now to be launched as a separate, independent campaign group, called TimeWatch.

"When we first started campaigning about Thornborough, there was just a handful of us and we were extremely pleased to find a supportive home within Heritage Action" commented George Chaplin. "Now our campaign group has grown so large within Heritage Action that it made sense to launch an independent group in it's own right, with a wider remit and set of priorities.

"The new group will keep its focus on Thornborough's archaeology but will widen its involvement into all other related issues. The impacts of quarrying will be felt far beyond the purely archaeological ones and we intend to ensure the public is fully informed of them."

Nigel Swift, chairman of Heritage Action said: "This reflects well on all who have worked so hard on the Thornborough Campaign. It has grown to be one of the largest of its kind in Britain, reflecting the grave national concern that exists.

"The two organisations will now take up parallel but independent roles. Heritage Action will continue campaigning on threats to all ancient sites and supporting the campaigns of others. TimeWatch will concentrate on raising national awareness of individual sites under threat, starting with Thornborough. We wish them well and look forward to working closely with
them in future."

For more information on TimeWatch and the Thornborough campaign, the public are urged to visit the TimeWatch website at www.timewatch.org

Walton Green Cursus — Links

Presteigne.com


Local history site with good prehistoric coverage.

Walton Green Cursus — Miscellaneous

The south west end of the site is at SO26195978 and north east end is at SO26826001.

The monument is 95% in Wales and was identified from cropmarks. It's 660m long by 30m wide with squared ends and rounded corners.

Hindwell Cursus — Links

Presteigne.com


Local history website with good prehistory coverage.

Hindwell Cursus — Miscellaneous

Possible cursus with the south west end at SO24496052 and the north east end at SO24926074.

Shows on a combination of aerial photographs and as a combination of cropmark features. The site is 474m long and 54m wide with no definite terminals.

Hasting Hill Cursus — Links

Sunderland Pathfinder


Link to SMR entry

Hasting Hill Cursus — Miscellaneous

From the SMR:

"The monument includes a cursus, causewayed enclosure and round barrows which have been identified through aerial photography, lying 600m south of Hastings Hill Farm. No upstanding earthwork remains of these survive but the evidence of aerial photography and limited excavation has confirmed that significant remains survive beneath the present ground surface. Sections of the ditches of both the cursus and causewayed enclosure were excavated by the Department of Archaeology, University of Durham in 1980. The cursus is orientated north-south. At its northern terminus the cursus is 47m wide and is defined by a 1m wide, asymmetrical 'V' shaped ditch, which was 0.4m deep. The southern terminus has not been identified, but the cursus is at least 400m long. The causewayed enclosure lies 10m north west of the northern terminus of the cursus. It is an irregular oval, 92m by 65m, with its long axis orientated north-west, south-east defined by a 1m-2.2m wide ditch, which is 0.2m-0.3m deep. It has entrances in the north west and south east perimeter of the enclosure. One of the round barrows, which is 9m in diameter, is on the eastern perimeter of the enclosure. The other round barrow ditches are located just east of the cursus, 400m south of the causewayed enclosure. One of these has been measured at 20m-22m diameter. The cursus, causewayed enclosure and round barrows are interpreted as being of Neolithic date"

Barford Sheds Cursus — Miscellaneous

FromWarwickshire SMR.

At Barford Sheds, a long, narrow rectangular enclosure is visible as a cropmark on aerial photographs. This might be a cursus monument. barrows, in which people buried the dead during the Neolithic period, are uncommon in Warwickshire.

Stirling — News

Standing Stone reveals ancient secrets at modern opencast site


Four human cremation burial plots have been uncovered at the Kingslaw opencast site on the outskirts of Kirkcaldy.
And it is understood they form part of complex religious ceremonies carried out by settlers thousands of years ago.
The discovery was made by Fife Council archaeologists as they removed the 4000-year-old Bogleys Standing Stone from the Kingslaw development, which is currently being mined by Lanarkshire-based GM Mining, before being turned into a business and leisure facility.
Moving and protecting the ancient Bronze Age stone was part of an archaeological condition laid down before planning permission was given.
Fife Council archaeologist Douglas Speirs told The Press: "The Bogleys Stone was probably erected about 4,000 years ago.
"It is the last visible vestige of what must have been a highly charged area of ritual landscape.
"The stone is massive, standing some seven feet above ground and weighing more than five tons.
"Clearly the extraordinary degree of effort that went into moving and erecting this stone demonstrates the intensity of meaning that this site had to the Bronze inhabitants of central Fife.
"Exactly how the stone was used is not entirely clear, but archaeological excavations have shown that complex religious ceremonies, including the symbolic burial of human remains around the stone was practised. "Indeed, four human cremation burials were found radiating out around the stone."

http://www.fifenow.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=1015&ArticleID=879458

The Thornborough Henges — News

Ancient footsteps retraced by henge protestors


Heritage Action Media Release - 19th October 2004

A 5,000 year old ceremony is to be recreated this week as campaigners carry an ancient ceremonial axe through Yorkshire's "Sacred Vale" to Thornborough.

"The area between Catterick and Boroughbridge can claim to be Britain's first great religious and ceremonial centre" said George Chaplin of Heritage Action. "It contains Britain's largest concentration of prehistoric henges, vast circular earthworks that were used as ceremonial meeting places. We are staging a march through this "Sacred Vale" to highlight that the area is an immensely important part of our local and national heritage and that plans to quarry the surrounding archaeology are akin to vandalism."

The trek will take place on Friday and Saturday 22nd and 23rd of October and takes in all of the original ancient ritual landscape - seven mighty henges and a giant stone row, as well as many other monuments that line the route. The route focuses on the mile-long triple henge monument at Thornborough, the location of a bitter battle between protestors and quarry firm Tarmac.

The marchers will carry with them a prehistoric stone axe that last travelled the route five millennia ago. The axe was originally brought from Scotland, and was deposited in a ritual location close to Thornborough.

"We believe it's vitally important that the Sacred Vale is recognised for what it is" said Mr Chaplin. "It's not just important to Yorkshire, it's important to Britain. If the destruction of the surroundings of any of these monuments is allowed to continue it would be a national disgrace, not just a Yorkshire one. We hope that by setting up this heritage trail people can be given the chance to explore this little known but supremely important landscape. The more people that get to know about it the more chance there is that it will be saved".

Tarmac announce horse burial at Thornborough


A more comprehensive article appears in the Ripon Gazette:

Horses find shows that we are not riding roughshod through archaeology - Tarmac

Quarry firm Tarmac has faced bitter criticism from campaigners fighting to protect the prehistoric Thornborough Henges and has been accused of destroying archaeological remains in the same area. But nothing could be further from the truth, the company tells Lee Sobot.

Earlier this year, the skeletal remains of four horses were discovered at Nosterfield Quarry, near West Tanfield.

A fragment was sent for carbon dating in Scotland and the recently revealed results tell us that the horses date back to the Iron Age - in this case about 50AD.

The horses were lying nose to tail, suggesting something remarkably ritualistic about the find. The skeletons are now being stored at Kings Manor in York, part of the University.

Discoveries like this are rare, highly significant and of major archaeological interest.

So who discovered them? It was Tarmac, the firm that stands accused not caring about the archaeology of the area.

Tarmac say discoveries like these are proof they want to preserve archaeology, quite the opposite of destroying it.

"Quarrying in the UK has provided us with a massive amount of archaeological finds" says Mike Griffiths, the site's archaeologist employed by Tarmac.

"I have been doing this since the 1960's and I am happy to say that more archaeological information has come through quarrying than any other source".

Mr Griffiths began looking at the Nosterfield Quarry and Ladybridge Farm sites ten years ago. He is paid by Tarmac to ensure they are not quarrying land containing significant archaeology. He must also ensure any archaeology found is removed and recorded.

Over the years, field walking, test pitting, trial excavations, geophysical surveys and sieving and sampling have been among the performed by Mr Griffith's team.

The discovery of four Iron Age horses at Nosterfield Quarry proves that Tarmac and Mr Griffiths are doing their job and the skeletal remains are by far the most significant discovery on the site.

But Mr Griffiths says he can assure campaigners, including Friends of Thornborough, that similar finds are unlikely to exist at Ladybridge Farm, set to be quarried in 2006 if planning permission is granted. After years of research he says he knows best.

"The Iron Age horses are a significant find and are probably connected to the Romans," he says.

"But there is not as much archaeology here as people say. We have done the work, we have done the topsoiling and we know. I get really annoyed when people say Tarmac are not bothered about archaeology and just want to bulldoze their way through - people have misconceived what Tarmac are about."

"We strip the area first to check for archaeology and every single discovery is recorded and reported."

Mr Griffiths says that, unfairly, he and Tarmac are on a loser as regards any archaeological investigations, despite the fact that Tarmac have spent £420,000 researching the archaeology of Nosterfield Quarry and Ladybridge Farm. If archaeology is found "we told you so" will be the response from campaign groups like the Friends of Thornborough. If not, Tarmac will be seen to be quite literally, hiding the facts.

"Now we are producing the results of our archaeological studies and we are not producing the picture that people want to see," says Mr Griffiths.

"But we are producing the real picture. A lot of emotion has got into this but we are producing the facts and it is time that some of that emotion was diffused."

A huge file on the table is bursting with extensive archaeological research, and Mr Griffiths says Tarmac has stopped at nothing to ensure meticulous studying has taken place. Tarmac is now preparing to present the council with a detailed evaluation report of Ladybridge early next year. It will say there is little significant archaeology and what there is is scattered.

Rob Moore, estates manager for Tarmac Northern says "We have gone well beyond the legal requirements in our research."

As well as arguing there is little archaeology on Ladybridge Farm, Tarmac say there are numerous other reasons why quarrying on Ladybridge must go ahead, and leading them is demand.

TV hope for henges protestors


TV hope for henges protestors
A campaign group fighting to stop quarrying being extended near an ancient landmark say a BBC series will aid their efforts.

Thornborough Henges, near Ripon, North Yorkshire, will feature on British
Isles - A Natural History, which is being presented by Alan Titchmarsh.

A forthcoming episode will cover the Ice Age, showing how the end of the
glacial period left much of Britain covered with gravel.

A later episode will explore the impact which humans had on the landscape,
including a look at Thornborough Henges, which was the largest construction of the Neolithic period.

Tarmac Northern, which already quarries land near the monuments, has asked North Yorkshire County Council for permission to extend its operation in the area.

George Chaplin, Thornborough campaign co-ordinator for Heritage Action,
said: "The programme will first show how extensive the gravel beds in the
north of England are and later how important the henges are. We just have to make sure that the people who watch this know about the quarrying."

Published: 04/10/2004

http://www.thisisthenortheast.co.uk/the_north_east/entertainment/TV1.html

Expert blasts quarry firm over 'threat' to unique ancient site


From a Yorkshire Today article by David Garner, published on 28th September 2004:

The man who helped unlock the secrets of one of Britain's most important Neolithic sites has launched a fierce attack on plans to extend nearby quarry workings.

Dr Jan Harding, of Newcastle University, has criticised Tarmac Northern's plans to expand open-cast extraction of sand and gravel in the prehistoric landscape around Thornborough Henges near Ripon.
The company is seeking approval from North Yorkshire County Council to extract thousands of tonnes of aggregate from 111 acres at Ladybridge Farm, Nosterfield, close to the 5,500-year-old scheduled ancient monument. The henges, earthworks with a diameter of 240 metres – more than 250 yards are thought to have been a centre for ritual worship drawing pilgrims from across the North. They are part of a concentration of monuments stretching south-west roughly parallel with the course of the River Ure. Dr Harding, senior lecturer in archaeology and director of graduate studies at Newcastle, has been leading research in the area for nearly a decade. He says the company has submitted factually misleading statements and failed to recognise the importance of Ladybridge.

Pressure group the Friends of Thornborough say Dr Harding's status as an authority on the archaeology of the monument suggests his criticism of the Tarmac plans should be heeded by County Hall. He insists that the existing quarry at Nosterfield has already destroyed part of the remains of a settlement occupied by the Neolithic builders and users of the henges, while proposed extension would obliterate the remainder, preventing it being studied by researchers in the future.

"The archaeological value of Ladybridge cannot be over-estimated. It has a unique contribution to make to understanding both Thornborough's archaeology and settlement patterns in later Neolithic Britain," Dr Harding said. Tarmac plans to employ similar rescue techniques for any buried archaeology at Ladybridge to those it has used in Nosterfield quarry but these are dismissed by Dr Harding as "badly conceived". In a strongly worded critique of the company's proposals submitted to County Hall, he says:

"It would be misguided for the shabby treatment of an archaeological landscape of regional, national and international significance to be followed with the rapid and complete destruction of what remains of the settlement area to the north of the henge complex."

Dr Harding has warned county councillors that allowing quarrying to go ahead would be "widely condemned as an act of vandalism." County Hall has allowed until tomorrow for public comments about the Tarmac proposals. But Tarmac Northern's company estates manager, Rob Moore, said yesterday:

"It is usual with planning applications of this nature for the planning
authority to seek additional information on a wide range of issues.

"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.

"This evaluation was proposed in the environmental impact assessment that we submitted as part of our application and is designed to provide the county council and other interested parties with an accurate picture of the archaeological make up of the Ladybridge site."

Original article.

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."

http://www.24hourmuseum.org.uk/nwh_gfx_en/ART24211.html

Thornborough Quarry plans suffer delay set-back


Quarry firm Tarmac Northern Ltd wants to open up a new area of extraction at
its sand and gravel quarry close to the Thornborough Henges. These proposals
have been the focus of widespread condemnation from heritage groups across
the UK.

In June 2004 Heritage Action raised concerns that Tarmac were trying to
derail the planning process by failing to submit important archaeological
documents with their planning application. The archaeological significance
of the Thornborough Henges is a paramount concern for a great many people.
Any plan submitted without taking into account archaeological evidence of
what is "in the ground" at Ladybridge is clearly not in accordance with
planning guidelines.

At that time North Yorkshire County Council chose to press ahead with the
application despite this report being omitted from the application. At that
time, Tarmac had apparently made a commitment to provide the missing report
by September 2004.

However, that report has not been forthcoming and is now not expected until
sometime around Christmas. With this in mind the council have decided to
delay any discussion about the Ladybridge application until the new year.

This turn of events is welcomed by Heritage Action. It should effectively
mean that a new consultation process will start the New Year, with a
revamped planning application that should fully take into account all of the
items required by planning rules, not just a selected few.

So far, North Yorkshire County Council have received an unprecedented number
of objections to the planning application thanks to Heritage Action's
Thornborough Campaign Team, who have been extremely proactive in lobbying
against this development.

A preliminary report of the plans was set to go before council committee
next month, but both Tarmac and English Heritage are now collecting further
archaeological information regarding the site. As a result, a new public
consultation process will have to follow early next year.

Chris Jarvis, of North Yorkshire County Council's Planning and Countryside
Unit, confirmed the delay this week.
He said: "The archaeological information being collected all forms part of
the consultation process and it is going to be some time before we get
anywhere."

Among those opposed to any further quarrying is top archaeologist Aubrey
Burl, who likened Tarmac's plans to "dropping Stonehenge into the River
Avon".

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA), the Yorkshire Archaeological
Society (YAS) and the British Archaeological Trust (BAT) also oppose the
plans and the issue has been featured in the national press and the UK's
most popular archaeology publications.

Thornborough is now the target for growing international concern and is
becoming increasingly accepted as one of the UK's top heritage sites. Mr
Chaplin said "Tarmac and its parent company Anglo American Plc need to think
carefully how this (their application) is going to impact on their
international reputation".

Cambridgeshire — News

Time Team's big finds


Thousands of years of history were uncovered when excavations started in a village near Stamford last week.

Archaeologists spent three days carving trenches out of the landscape to uncover artefacts which dated the site at Northborough to 6,000 years ago .

The experts think the site is one of only seven of the same type of Neolithic site in the country.

Time Team researcher Karen Kirk explained they thought the site may have been a meeting place or have a ritual significance.

Either way there have been some exciting finds, including a leaf shaped arrow head and a piece of flint.

The team also uncovered pottery from 3,500 BC and animal bone with marks on it consistent with them being hit.

Both presenter Tony Robinson and Dr Francis Pryor, who discovered Flag Fen at Peterborough, were at the site looking at the finds and taking part in the dig alongside archaeologists from around the country.

Using state-of-the-art technology they were able to find archaeological hot spots and dig in the right places.

Karen said they liked to use local people with local knowledge to help them out, and they have also used people with metal detectors to help with digs.
She said: "We had our own diggers, Wessex Archaeology, Northampton Archaeology Unit and Flag Fen diggers on the site."

The Deepings' Red Cross ambulance was also on hand to keep a watchful eye on the team and ensure any injuries could be attended to.

Although the site has now been filled in, all finds and significant items have been logged and recorded by the team for the future.

The show will be aired next year between January and March as part of Time Team's 12th series.

From Stamford Today, 16th September 2004.

Castercliff Camp (Hillfort) — Links

BrigantesNation Castercliff page


Hill of Tara — News

28 Archaeological Sites on M3 Motorway Route


From the Irish Times - 08.09.04

The controversy over the routing of the M3 motorway near the historic Hill of Tara has been revived, with Meath county councillors agreeing to consult archaeologists about the treasures which may lie beneath the site of the road.

County council official Mr Oliver Perkins has told local councillors that surveys have identified 28 sites of potential archaeological importance on the section of the proposed motorway near the Tara/Skryne valley in Co Meath.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the National Museum of Ireland are to confer and produce a report shortly.

Mr Perkins added, however, that the schedule for appointment of a contractor remains September 2005. It is hoped to start construction at the end of 2005.

County councillors have no statutory role in the routing of the project, which has been confirmed following an oral public hearing by An Bord Pleanála two years ago.

However, some councillors, including Sinn Féin member Mr Joe Reilly, are arguing for the right of county councillors to continue campaigning for a change of route.

Independent councillor Mr Brian Fitzgerald said the motorway should be built in phases, starting with the section from Clonee to Dunshaughlin.

He said this would relieve traffic chaos, while allowing time for further archaeological research on the Dunshaughlin to Navan section.

Hill of Tara — Links

Discovery programme guide to Tara


County Londonderry — News

Bronze Age Burial Ground is Unearthed in County Down


By Ben Lowry (blowry@belfasttelegraph.co.uk) - 31st August 2004

A Bronze Age burial ground in Co Down has been unearthed during work on a dual carriageway on the Belfast-Dublin route.

The construction scheme on the A1, between Loughbrickland and Beech Hill, has led to a number of important archaeological finds that provide evidence of a settlement site stretching back thousands of years.

A cemetery of eight early Bronze Age ring ditch barrow cremation burials, dating to 1800 BC, have been excavated and recorded, following three months of work by 12 archaeologists.

Kev Beachus, the head archaeologist, said: "The wealth of archaeology uncovered provides a fascinating insight into the lives of our
ancestors."

Read the rest at...

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/story.jsp?story=556975

Orkney — News

Traces of prehistoric homes open door on early man


An article by David Hartley from The Scotsman:

They were the first people to live in Scotland, nomads who left little trace of their day-to-day lives. But the first evidence that early man built homes as far north as Orkney up to 10,000 years ago appears to have been uncovered by archaeologists.

Tiny slivers of stone - combined with previously puzzling results from a geophysics survey - point to the presence of a settlement created by Mesolithic hunter gatherers.

The discovery of the islands' first houses would represent a major step forward in understanding the shadowy lives of our earliest ancestors.

Jane Downes, from Orkney College, one of the archaeologists leading the excavation at Mine Howe, said: "To find evidence of a settlement would be a first for Orkney.

"But it would also be incredibly unusual for Scotland, because the lifestyle of the Mesolithic people meant they left few traces for us to find," she added.

Orkney is internationally famous as the home of some of the Neolithic period's greatest architectural masterpieces. Stone monuments like Skara Brae and Maes Howe date from about 5,000 years ago.

A more detailed survey of the area will now be carried out by the new geophysics unit at Orkney College.

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=1018502004
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