THORNBOROUGH HENGES, North Yorkshire
Statement by English Heritage - March 2004
The scheduled protected area covers only the unquarried eastern part of the large cursus
overlain by the central henge, the three henges themselves, and a narrow corridor connecting them,
outlined by recently planted hedges. Any buried archaeology in the area with residual pools
immediately beyond the henges, which includes the county councilís waste landfill site, has been
lost forever to quarrying and the landscape is now 25 feet lower than the original surface."
As monuments of national importance all three of the Thornborough henges, the associated cursus and adjoining landscape are designated as Scheduled Ancient Monuments. The henges themselves can therefore be regarded as fully protected and not under threat.
The current mineral extractions at Nosterfield Quarry, Thornborough, which are outside the scheduled monument area, are the subject of permissions granted to Tarmac Northern by North Yorkshire County Council. At this stage English Heritage has no statutory authority to limit or prevent the extractions, which are within the remit of the local planning authority. The current extraction work has been the subject of archaeological sampling within a mitigation strategy agreed by North Yorkshire County Council's Heritage Unit as a condition of the existing planning consent.
Tarmac Northern have recently signalled their intention to submit a planning application to extend the existing Nosterfield Quarry eastwards into the area known as Ladybridge Farm. Following this, they will seek the inclusion of the area adjacent to the henges, referred to as Thornborough Moor, as a "preferred area" for aggregates extraction when the existing Minerals Local Plan is reviewed during 2004 - 06.
Until the archaeological value of the landscape surrounding the henges is better understood, English Heritage is firmly opposed to any further gravel extraction in the Ladybridge Farm area. We are currently funding Dr Jan Harding of Newcastle University to undertake extensive archaeological research on the Thornborough landscape. Dr Harding's work has two principal components: firstly, he has produced an archaeological desktop assessment of the monument complex, clearly defining their significance and landscape setting, and assessing the archaeological potential of the area. Secondly, he is undertaking a programme of extensive fieldwork to ascertain more fully the nature and preservation of the archaeological remains within the landscape around the henges.
The results of Dr Harding's work will inform the future management of the henges and their landscape setting.
English Heritage believes that any extraction within the Thornborough Moor area would have a substantial and detrimental impact on the archaeological environment and the setting of the henges. We will therefore resist the inclusion of Thornborough Moor as a "preferred area" in the revised Minerals Local Plan through our role as statutory consultee in the plannig process.
English Heritage believes that the most appropriate long-term management regime for the henges and their associated landscape is as managed grassland, with increased public access to, and interpretation of, the landscape and monuments. In order to secure a positive management regime, English Heritage would support acquisition by an appropriate body of the henges and associated landscape, should the land become available for purchase.