Ripon’s ‘Stonehenge of the north’ gifted to nation
Last updated Feb 3, 2023
Thornborough Henges. Pic: Historic England

A monument over 5,000 years old between Ripon and Masham is set to open to the public free of charge.

The Thornborough Henges complex includes three large circular earthworks each more than 100 metres in diameter.

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

Construction firms Tarmac and Lightwater Holdings have gifted the site into the legal ownership of Historic England, which is a non-departmental public body, although it will be managed by the charity English Heritage.

The site is is located near West Tanfield, between Ripon and Masham, just outside the Harrogate district.

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

“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.”

Historic England said in a statement:

“The earthworks are thought to have been part of a ritual landscape and are probably the most important single ancient site between Stonehenge and the Orkney Islands in Scotland.”

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Thornborough Henges will join various Roman sites on Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge within the National Heritage Collection.

The deal started to come to fruition in 2016 and has finally been settled after years of controversy over quarrying in the surrounding area of the monument.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England said:

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.

Find out more here.