A huge new monunment, which is three huge 656ft Neolithic monuments known as the “stonehenge of the North” have been gifted to the nation and opened up to the public.
The monument dates back to 3500BC to 2500BC and Historic England and English Heritage said they have secured the future to the complex known as Thornborough Henges found near Ripon.
Today, English Heritage will take control of the site and will be welcoming the public free of charge. Historic England chief executive Duncan WIlson said the henges were “probably the most important single ancient site between Stonehenge and the Orkney Islands in Scotland”, and have been described as the “Stonehenge of the North”.
The henges were gifted by Tarmac and Lightwater Holdings into legal ownership of Historic England as part of the National Heritage Collection, which includes Stonehenge, Iron Bridge and Dover Castle.
English Heritage is encouraging the public to visit from Friday.
Rishi Sunak the Pirme Minster has commented on the acquisition saying: “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.”
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Historic England said the Thornborough Henges are “unparalleled in their size, alignment and degree of preservation”.
Archealogical finds in the area suggest the henges were most likely built as a ceremonial or ritual centre, according to Historic England and also trading centres and meeting places.
The may have been covered in minerals which would have made them glow white and be visible for miles around. From the four mete high circular banks you can see all three henges.
Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s chief executive, 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.”
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Feature Image Credit: Historic England