Final Ripon ‘Stonehenge’ site sold to English Heritage
Last updated Feb 9, 2024
The northern section of Thornborough Henge, which is being marketed by Knight Frank.
The northern section of Thornborough Henges.

The final henge of a 5,000-year site near Ripon known as the ‘Stonehenge of the north’ has been sold to English Heritage.

The Thornborough Henges complex includes three large circular earthworks each more than 200 metres in diameter dating from 3,000 to 2,500 BC. It is located near West Tanfield, between Ripon and Masham.

Today all three henges are clearly visible as massive circular banks, ranging in height up to four metres high.

Historic England described the Neolithic site as “probably the most important single ancient site between Stonehenge and the Orkney Islands in Scotland”.

Currently under woodland, the northern henge is the best preserved of the three and one of the best-preserved henges in the country.

Property firm Knight Frank announced today it had sold the northern henge on behalf of a local private landowner to English Heritage.

Last year, as reported by The Stray Ferret, the central and southern henges plus their surrounding lands were gifted to Historic England and English Heritage by the construction companies Tarmac and Lightwater Holdings.

Today’s news means all three parts of the monument are under one single owner for the first time in at least 1,500 years.

Thornborough Henges will be joining the likes of Stonehenge and numerous Roman sites on Hadrian’s Wall on English Heritage’s national heritage collection.

The site falls within the Richmond constituency of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who said:

“Having recently visited the henges site, I know how truly remarkable the totality of the monument is. Bringing all three henges together in the ownership of English Heritage ensures their preservation and enhances the charity’s ability to tell the story of the earthworks and their importance to the pre-history of our nation.”

Photo of the neolithic Thornborough Henges.

One of the UK’s most important neolithic sites, the Thornborough Henges, north of Ripon. Photo: English Heritage.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said:

“Thornborough Henges is one of England’s most impressive and important prehistoric monuments so it’s wonderful news that the entire site is now in the care of English Heritage for the benefit of the nation. The acquisition of the third henge marks the culmination of years of hard work and tenacity to unite and safeguard Thornborough Henges for future generations.”

Gerard Lemos, chair of English Heritage, said:

“Reuniting the henges like this means that the public is now able to explore all three and re-connect with the people who gathered here 4,500 years ago.”

Entry to Thornborough Henges is free although the northern henge is currently closed because a number of trees were damaged in recent storms. It is expected to open this year.

For more information, click here.

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