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The Aerial Antiquarians

When Pete asked if we were up for a bit of a flight, the answer was always going to be a very enthusiastic 'yes!' When he suggested we fly up to North Yorkshire to see the Thornborough henges taking in some of the sites (and sights) enroute, wild horses couldn't have prevented me from getting into that plane. We were to meet George at Bagby, a small grass airstrip near Thirsk.
Above: Pete, Jane and Moth
On the way up, our first 'stop' was Arbor Low which despite it's whopping size and the fact that JJ (the pilot) had the GPS on, took us a moment or two to spot. 'WOW!' we all gasped. And there's Gib Hill!

Arbor Low — Images

<b>Arbor Low</b>Posted by Jane
A couple of minutes away as the Piper Cherokee Arrow flies Moth spied the Nine Ladies of Stanton Moor. Enroute we thought we saw Five Wells and Moth spotted the Andle stone. The moor was bright purple with heather and the bright green clearing at the top of the moor revealed the dinky little stones! Guarded closely (thank gods!) by the campaigners tents, it was easy to see just how close the quarry has already crept, and how threatened, delicate and utterly beautiful the place is.

Nine Ladies of Stanton Moor — Images

<b>Nine Ladies of Stanton Moor</b>Posted by Jane
Tracking north, we swore and cursed at the M1 as we passed over it at junction 38, happy to be going to Yorkshire without having anything to do with it. Skirting Leeds to the east, we picked up the line of the A1(M) and spotted the Devils Arrows at Boroughbridge, standing tall and HUGE with long shadows in the recently harvested stripey field.

Landing at Bagby we stopped for a cuppa and to pick up George, Chief Defender of Thornborough. He got out his maps and a hand written list of all the barrows, earthworks, dykes,abbeys and R*man stuff he wanted to see. Much of it was not going to be visible as the light was a bit iffy and many sites he'd listed would be too hard to spot. So we headed on up to the main event: the Thornborough henges. George was like a small boy in sweet shop!

Above: Pete, Moth and George
So vast, you can see them from miles off, it's only from up here can you really appreciate how trashed the landscape around the henges already is and how close the quarrying has already sneaked up to the henges. Great swathes of ugly scarring on the landscape and unnaturally shaped lakes.

The Thornborough Henges — Images

<b>The Thornborough Henges</b>Posted by Jane
Amongst other places we saw on this leg of the flight, was a superb henge at Hutton Moor which is probably now so ploughed out that it is only visible from the air.

Back to Bagby to drop off George and collect Moth, we couldn't resist flying back to Thornborough for Moth to take a look (and some more pictures.)

We tracked southwards, east of the line of the M1, over Lincolnshire -which seemed to go on for about a week- eventually crossing the M1 into Northants and north Oxfordshire.

"Fancy a detour to the Rollrights?" asked JJ. "You betcha ass!" came the swift reply. We were on my patch now! There was Banbury, there was Cropredy (where we'd just spent the last two days at the festival), there was Long Compton and finally, the Rollrights! It looked surprisingly small from up here, but I wasn't disappointed. To see them in their wider context was thrilling. And from up here you couldn't see the yellow paint.

The Rollright Stones — Images

<b>The Rollright Stones</b>Posted by Jane
Just 10 minutes flight away, past the village where we live, over Brize Norton airport and the Downs start to appear on the horizon. Now it all gets so crazy that I have to report we saw all
the following in about 20 minutes flat: Uffington White Horse, Dragon Hill, Uffington Castle, the Ridgeway, Waylands Smithy, Liddington hillfort, Delling Copse, Mother's Jam, Silbury, Silbaby, Avebury, West Kennett long barrow, East Kennett long barrow, Seofen barrows, the Sanctuary, Devil's Den. We banked round steeply first one way then the other to get views to die for.

The cropcirclemakers had been busy round West Kennett long barrow, with a series of really complicated stunners. Praps the cropcirclemakers are having there own little Olympiad? My gold medal goes to the one closest to Swallowhead springs.

From the Devil's Den to the Devil's Arrows and back in a day. 600 nautical miles. That's the miracle of powered flight. Thanks Orville and Wilbur. And thanks to Pete and JJ. Fan-bleedin'-tastic.
Jane Posted by Jane
17th August 2004ce
Edited 24th November 2005ce

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