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Campaigners have said allowing people access to the Thornborough Henges is crucial to safeguarding their future. Dr Jan Harding, senior archaeology lecturer at Newcastle University, said:

“Despite being of unique cultural value and being described by English Heritage as the most important prehistoric site between Stonehenge and the Orkneys, it is closed to visitors, lacks educational information and sits in an extensively quarried landscape. At the moment, there isn’t even a display board. Getting some kind of formal access for the public is vital.”

Thornborough Henges, North Yorkshire. Image credit Jane Tomlinson, Heritage Action

It’s a while since we at Heritage Action went there (as part of our campaign against Tarmac PLC’s application to quarry its surroundings) but we do recall it was very visitor-unfriendly with no signage, parking or access. We also remember two more things that might be helpful:

In 2006 (while Tarmac was trying to get permission to extend their quarry) the landowner announced he wanted to make the monument into a tourist attraction with a car park and visitor centre and Tarmac were supportive: “We see no conflict in principle between tourists visiting the henges and continuation of our quarry at Nosterfield with the useful employment it provides. [Nidderdale Today, March 2006]

And earlier, in 2005, Tarmac offered to give 60 acres of land next to the Henges to a charitable trust on behalf of the Nation to protect it for all time from further exploitation, saying (in the words of their Area Director, Simon Phillips): “The preservation of the henges is vitally important to us all, and we look forward to working with English Heritage and North Yorkshire County Council to develop this charitable trust.” [Ripon Today, June 2005]

Ah the benefits of a good memory! That might be the answer. Tarmac were both supportive of tourism and anxious to protect the Henges before they got permission so they’ll hardly be less supportive of tourism or less anxious to protect the Henges now they have got permission will they?  Nor less generous – the gift of the land would have been worth over a third of a million if it had happened would it not? So they’d hardly now refuse to finance some formal access, carparking, the best information boards money can buy and a fund to provide a Rolls Royce interpretation facility in the local village, as befits the most important prehistoric site between Stonehenge and the Orkneys. £350K would cover it splendidly.

Please help by reminding Mr Phillips about what he said (you can contact him via the press relations department of Tarmac and/or their parent company Anglo American Hopefully he’ll remember, but just point him to this article to make sure. We’re confident both Tarmac and Anglo American, being honorable, honest companies, ever anxious to protect their reputations and help local communities will agree to donate the money without delay. Please let us know how they respond.


February 2012

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