Thornborough Henges

The Thornborough Henges are an unusual ancient monument complex that includes the three aligned henges that give the site its name. The complex is located near the village of Thornborough, close to the town of Masham in North Yorkshire, England. The complex includes many large ancient structures including a cursus, henges, burial grounds and settlements. They are thought to have been part of a Neolithic and Bronze Age 'ritual landscape' comparable to Salisbury Plain and date from between 3500 and 2500 BC. This monument complex has been called 'The Stonehenge of the North'. Historic England considers its landscape comparable in ceremonial importance to better known sites such as Stonehenge, Avebury, and Orkney.[1]

In recent decades, there has been public concern about the impact on the ritual landscape of quarrying by Tarmac.

Thornborough Henge
The three henges of the Thornborough Henges complex

Cursus

The cursus is the oldest and largest ancient monument at Thornborough. It is almost a mile in extent and runs from Thornborough Village, under the (later) central henge and terminates close to the River Ure in a broadly east/west alignment.

Cursuses are perhaps the most enigmatic of ancient monuments. They typically comprise two parallel ditches, the larger of which can be a mile or more in extent, cut to create a "cigar shaped" enclosure. Typically, burial mounds and mortuary enclosures are found alongside cursus monuments indicating that they probably had a ceremonial function.

Henges

The three henges are almost identical in size and composition, each having a diameter of approximately 240 metres and two large entrances situated directly opposite each other. The henges are located around 550 m apart on an approximate northwest-southeast alignment, although there is a curious 'dogleg' in the layout. Altogether, the monument extends for more than a mile.

Archaeological excavation of the central henge has taken place. It has been suggested that its banks were covered with locally mined gypsum. The resulting white sheen would have been striking and visible for miles around. A double alignment of pits, possibly evidence of a timber processional avenue, extends from the southern henge.

The 'dogleg' in the layout appears to cause the layout of the henges to mirror the three stars of Orion's Belt. The exact purpose of the henges is unclear though archaeological finds suggest that they served economic and social purposes as well as astronomical ones.

The Northern henge is currently overgrown with trees but is one of the best preserved henges in Britain. The Central and Southern henges are in poorer condition although the banks of the henges are still quite prominent, especially in the case of the Central henge. To gain a full appreciation of the scale of the monument it is best viewed from the air.

Bealtaine

MayKingandQueen
The May King and Queen, Thornborough Central Henge, Beltaine 2005

All three of the Thornborough henges and the narrow strip of land connecting them are Scheduled Ancient Monuments. However, the land is privately owned and there is no official public access. Despite this, the site does have a steady stream of visitors throughout the year. Since 2004 there has been an opportunity for public access to the central henge, which is owned by Tarmac Northern Ltd.[2] to attend the celebration of the ancient Gaelic festival of Bealtaine. On 1 May 2005 this event was attended by around 150 people from across the north of England.

Quarrying

Extensive quarrying has destroyed much of the monument's setting to the north and west of the henges. The site lies within the wider Nosterfield quarry area being exploited for gravel by Tarmac Northern Ltd. Although the henges themselves are not threatened, Tarmac now wishes to extend its quarrying operations to a 45 hectare site less than a mile east of the henges known as 'Ladybridge Farm'.[3] Preliminary investigations of this area of land to discern its archaeological significance have suggested that it may have been a location of ritual Neolithic encampments, possibly used by those people who built or visited the henges. Opponents of the plan claim that if permission was granted for this area to be quarried, much of the remaining contextual information about the henges would be lost. A campaign led by local people and concerned archaeologists is attempting to persuade Tarmac and North Yorkshire County Council to guarantee the protection of the area. British planning and archaeology guidelines prefer preservation in situ of archaeological remains. In cases where this is not possible, such as quarrying, preservation by record is an option, involving archaeological excavation. Campaigners argue that further excavation and subsequent quarrying will destroy the ritual landscape completely.

In 2002 Tarmac Northern Ltd. expressed an intention to apply for planning permission to quarry Thornborough Moor, thus intending to quarry right up to the edge of the designated scheduled monument area. In March 2005, Tarmac stated it would not seek to apply for planning permission to quarry this site for at least ten years, the period covered by North Yorkshire County Council's Minerals Plan.

In February 2006 North Yorkshire County Council turned down Tarmac's application to expand quarrying to the Ladybridge Farm site. Later in 2006 Tarmac submitted a revised planning application to North Yorkshire County Council. The revised application for Ladybridge, which is adjacent to the Nosterfield Quarry, reduced the proposed area for sand and gravel extraction from 45 hectares to 31 hectares, avoiding the south west section of the site to address concerns raised about archaeology. The application was approved in February 2007.

Late in 2007 campaign group Friends of Thornborough requested a judicial review of the planning permission due to a number of procedural irregularities. In response, North Yorkshire County Council ruled the permission to be "fatally flawed," and withdrew the permission previously granted. It is now planned that the planning application will be re-determined by North Yorkshire County Council planning committee on 22 April 2008. Planners indicated that granting of permission was likely. However, campaign group TimeWatch raised the issue of Neolithic archaeology found within the new quarry area since the last planning meeting.

In November 2016, North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee agreed with the owners Tarmac to approve further quarrying in return for preserving the site of the Thornborough Henges and 90 acres of surrounding land, which would eventually be handed over to the public body.

References

  1. ^ Historic England. "Thornborough Henges (52056)". PastScape. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  2. ^ Nosterfield
  3. ^ Hammond, Norman (24 August 2004). "Battle to preserve Thornborough henges". The Times. Retrieved 11 January 2019.

External links

Coordinates: 54°12′22″N 1°34′20″W / 54.20599°N 1.57223°W

Ancient Aliens

Ancient Aliens is an American television series that premiered on April 20, 2010, on the History channel. Produced by Prometheus Entertainment in a documentary style, the program presents hypotheses of ancient astronauts and proposes that historical texts, archaeology, and legends contain evidence of past human-extraterrestrial contact. The show has been widely criticized by historians, cosmologists and other scientific circles for presenting and promoting pseudoscience and pseudohistory.

The series started with a TV special of the same name that aired on March 8, 2009, on the History channel. Seasons 1–3 aired on the same channel until 2011. From season 4 to the middle of season 7, the series aired on H2. On April 10, 2015, episode premieres returned to History.

Season 14 premiered on May 31, 2019.

Devil's Arrows

The Devil's Arrows are three standing stones or menhirs in an alignment approximately 660 feet (200 m) to the east of the A1(M), adjacent to Roecliffe Lane, Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire, England, near to where the A1 road now crosses the River Ure (grid reference SE390666).

Earthworks (archaeology)

In archaeology, earthworks are artificial changes in land level, typically made from piles of artificially placed or sculpted rocks and soil. Earthworks can themselves be archaeological features, or they can show features beneath the surface.

Henge

There are three related types of Neolithic earthwork that are all sometimes loosely called henges. The essential characteristic of all three is that they feature a ring-shaped bank and ditch, with the ditch inside the bank. Because the internal ditches would have served defensive purposes poorly, henges are not considered to have been defensive constructions (cf. circular rampart). The three henge types are as follows, with the figure in brackets being the approximate diameter of the central flat area:

Henge (> 20 m). The word henge refers to a particular type of earthwork of the Neolithic period, typically consisting of a roughly circular or oval-shaped bank with an internal ditch surrounding a central flat area of more than 20 m (66 ft) in diameter. There is typically little if any evidence of occupation in a henge, although they may contain ritual structures such as stone circles, timber circles and coves. Henge monument is sometimes used as a synonym for henge. Henges sometimes, but by no means always, featured stone or timber circles, and circle henge is sometimes used to describe these structures. The three largest stone circles in Britain (Avebury, the Great Circle at Stanton Drew stone circles and the Ring of Brodgar) are each in a henge. Examples of henges without significant internal monuments are the three henges of Thornborough Henges. Although having given its name to the word henge, Stonehenge is atypical in that the ditch is outside the main earthwork bank.

Hengiform monument (5 – 20 m). Like an ordinary henge except the central flat area is between 5 and 20 m (16–66 ft) in diameter, they comprise a modest earthwork with a fairly wide outer bank. Mini henge or Dorchester henge are sometimes used as synonyms for hengiform monument. An example is the Neolithic site at Wormy Hillock Henge.

Henge enclosure (> 300 m). A Neolithic ring earthwork with the ditch inside the bank, with the central flat area having abundant evidence of occupation and usually being more than 300 m (980 ft) in diameter. Some true henges are as large as this (e.g., Avebury), but lack evidence of domestic occupation. Super henge is sometimes used as a synonym for a henge enclosure. However, sometimes Super henge is used to indicate size alone rather than use, e.g. "Marden henge ... is the least understood of the four British 'superhenges' (the others being Avebury, Durrington Walls and Mount Pleasant Henge)".

History of Yorkshire

Yorkshire is a historic county of England, centred on the county town of York. The region was first occupied after the retreat of the ice age around 8000 BC. During the first millennium AD it was occupied by Romans, Angles and Vikings. The name comes from "Eborakon" (c. 150) an old Brythonic name which probably derives from "Efor" or "the place of the yew-trees." Many Yorkshire dialect words and aspects of pronunciation derive from old Norse due to the Viking influence in this region. The name "Yorkshire", first appeared in writing in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1065. It was originally composed of three sections called Thrydings, subsequently referred to as Ridings.

Following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Yorkshire was subject to the punitive harrying of the North, which caused great hardship. The Harrying was one of the first genocides recorded in English history and was carried out by the French conquerors on the native Anglo-Saxon-Vikings. The area proved to be notable for uprisings and rebellions through to the Tudor period. During the industrial revolution, the West Riding became the second most important manufacturing area in the United Kingdom, while the predominant industries of the East and North Ridings remained fishing and agriculture. In modern times, the Yorkshire economy suffered from a decline in manufacturing which affected its traditional coal, steel, wool and shipping industries.

List of Local Nature Reserves in North Yorkshire

This is a list of Local Nature Reserves (LNR) in North Yorkshire. The list accounts for the post-1974 area of North Yorkshire, and includes the local authority areas of Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland as well as the City of York. As such, it includes areas in places such as Harrogate, that prior to 1974, were in the historic county of the West Riding of Yorkshire.Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are designated by local authorities under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. The local authority must have a legal control over the site, by owning or leasing it or having an agreement with the owner. LNRs are sites which have a special local interest either biologically or geologically, and local authorities have a duty to care for them. They can apply local bye-laws to manage and protect LNRs. As of May 2018, North Yorkshire has 18 designated Local Nature Reserves.

List of prehistoric structures in Great Britain

There are many prehistoric sites and structures of interest remaining from prehistoric Britain. These date from the Stone Age, Bronze Age Britain, and the British Iron Age. The most famous one is probably Stonehenge, in Wiltshire.

Mayburgh Henge

Mayburgh Henge is a large prehistoric monument in the county of Cumbria in northern England.

The henge is in the care of English Heritage and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is 400 metres from King Arthur's Round Table Henge.

North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire is a non-metropolitan county (or shire county) and largest ceremonial county in England. It is located primarily in the region of Yorkshire and the Humber but partly in the region of North East England. The estimated (by ONS) population of North Yorkshire was 602,300 in mid-2016 (not including the unitary districts of York, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar & Cleveland).Created by the Local Government Act 1972, it covers an area of 8,654 square kilometres (3,341 sq mi), making it the largest county in England. The majority of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors lie within North Yorkshire's boundaries, and around 40% of the county is covered by National Parks. The largest towns are Middlesbrough (174,700), York (152,841), Harrogate (73,576) and Scarborough (61,749); the county town, Northallerton, has a population of 16,832.

Orion's Belt

Orion's Belt or the Belt of Orion, also known as the Three Kings or Three Sisters, is an asterism in the constellation Orion. It consists of the three bright stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka.

Looking for Orion's Belt in the night sky is the easiest way to locate Orion in the sky. The stars are more or less evenly spaced in a straight line, and so can be visualized as the belt of the hunter's clothing. They are best visible in the early night sky during the Northern Winter/Southern Summer, in particular the month of January at around 9:00 pm.

Orion's Sword

Orion's Sword is an astronomical asterism in the constellation Orion. It comprises three stars (42 Orionis, Theta Orionis, and Iota Orionis) and M42, the Orion Nebula, which together are thought to resemble a sword or a scabbard. This group is situated under the prominent asterism, Orion's Belt, where it points in a southerly direction. Origins behind Orion's Sword are based in mostly Greco-Roman tradition, though this group of stars is referenced as a weapon in multiple cultural contexts (see below).

Thornborough

Thornborough may refer to:

Places

In EnglandThornborough, Buckinghamshire

Thornborough, North Yorkshire

Thornborough Henges, North YorkshireIn AustraliaThornborough, QueenslandShipsHMS Thornborough (K574), a British frigate in commission in the Royal Navy from 1943 to 1945

Thornborough, North Yorkshire

Thornborough is a village in Hambleton district of North Yorkshire, England. It is about 7 miles (11 km) south of Bedale and 3 miles (5 km) west of the A1 road. Thornborough is in the West Tanfield parish. The Thornborough Henges ancient monuments are situated south and west of the village.

West Tanfield

West Tanfield is a village and civil parish in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire, England. The village is situated approximately six miles north of Ripon on the A6108, which goes from Ripon to Masham and Wensleydale. The parish includes the hamlets of Nosterfield, Thornborough and Binsoe.

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