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2 April 2004
Henge Friends 'shocked' over site ownership

Campaigners fighting to preserve the Thornborough Henges in Yorkshire (England) have questioned the site's management after discovering part is owned by a construction group which quarries nearby. A pressure group the Friends of Thornborough Henges has been formed to head the campaign to protect the area from quarrying. The Friends warn plans to extend nearby sand and gravel workings would ruin the prehistoric landscape surrounding the three banked and ditched circular enclosures.
     At the latest meeting of a forum set up by North Yorkshire Council to discuss the future of the area, the Friends say they were shocked to discover Tarmac owns two of the henges and the surrounding farmland. A company spokeswoman confirmed the land had been bought from Lightwater Valley theme park founder Robert Staveley, who continues to farm the property as a tenant.
     Friends spokesman George Chaplin said campaigners were unhappy about ploughing of land surrounding the henges, which was destroying subsoil archaeology. "If Tarmac has owned the setting of the henges all along, while knowing its importance, surely it could have ensured that ploughing did not take place," he said."It came as a real shock that the ploughing damage highlighted by Tarmac is actually taking place on land it owns."
     The Tarmac spokeswoman said it was no secret that Tarmac owned part of the setting of the henges. "While we own the land, we have no powers to direct how it is used but the tenant has signed up to a countryside stewardship agreement for the immediate land around the henges," she said. "This, for the period of the agreement, effectively protects the immediate area of the henge monument from further agricultural damage." The spokeswoman said Tarmac would not pursue development of the Thornborough Moor henge area until the outcome of English Heritage research and would take the review's findings into account in future decisions

Source: Yorkshire Post Today (2 April 2004)

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