Historic England and English Heritage have secured the future of two massive henge monuments and their surrounding landscape, part of a Neolithic complex in North Yorkshire described as “the Stonehenge of the North”. The henges will join Stonehenge and numerous Roman sites on Hadrian's Wall within the National Heritage Collection.
The Thornborough Henges complex near Ripon is an extremely important site, consisting of three giant, circular earthworks (known as ‘henges’) each more than 100m in diameter. Dating from 3500 to 2500 BC, the henges are of outstanding national significance. The earthworks are thought to have been part of a 'ritual landscape', comparable with Salisbury Plain in south-west England, and are probably the most important single ancient site between Stonehenge and the Orkney Islands in Scotland.
Now, the central and southern henges have been gifted by sustainable building materials and construction solutions business, Tarmac, into the legal ownership of Historic England as part of the National Heritage Collection. They are managed by English Heritage and are free to visit.
Thornborough Henges and their surrounding landscape form part of the most important concentration of Neolithic monuments in the North of England. They are a link to our ancient ancestors, through thousands of years, inspiring a sense of wonder and mystery. We are thrilled to have acquired this highly significant site for the nation, ensuring that these magnificent monuments are safe and will be preserved for generations to come.
The Thornborough Henges site has enormous potential to help tell the story of ancient Britain and I very much welcome this announcement about its future – its safeguarding and preservation for the nation. Comparatively few people are aware of its significance – both locally and nationally. I hope many more will come to appreciate this little-known gem of our history and while doing so provide a welcome boost to the local visitor economy.