‘Stonehenge of the North’ to join National Heritage Collection

Image: Central Henge, Thornborough Henges. © Historic England Archive

The site of what is thought to be once a ritual landscape akin to Stonehenge, has been gifted to Historic England.

Two monuments dubbed the ‘Stonehenge of the North’ have been gifted into the legal ownership of Historic England as part of the National Heritage Collection.

The henge monuments and their surrounding landscape, part of a Neolithic complex in North Yorkshire, will join the likes of the Stonehenge and numerous Roman sites on Hadrian’s Wall within the Collection.

The monuments and land have been gifted by construction business Tarmac, and are managed by English Heritage.

Historic England described the Thornborough Henges complex near Ripon as “an extremely important site” of national significance, and consists of three circular earthworks known as ‘henges’ of more than 100m in diameter.

Southern and Central Henges, Thornborough Henges, North Yorkshire. © Historic England Archive

Dating from 3500 to 2500 BC, the henges are thought to have been part of a ‘ritual landscape’, comparable with Salisbury Plain in south-west England.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England called the site 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.

“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.”

PM Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond said: “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.”