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The Thornborough Henges


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.
Posted by BrigantesNation
3rd October 2004ce
Edited 4th October 2004ce

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