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8 May 2005
Pagan ritual used by Thornborough campaigners

More than 100 pagans joined a fight against proposals to extend quarrying at a historic site in North Yorkshire. Tarmac Northern wants to extend its present operations close to the Thornborough Henges ancient earthworks near Ripon.
     The druids met at the site to mark the May Day ritual of Beltane, a pagan celebration of the height of spring. Local archaeologists also joined the protest. Some 150 people, many in costume, recreated a pagan sacrificial ritual but using a pantomime horse, "sacrificed" to bring good luck in the forthcoming year. Event organiser Oliver Robinson, who played the May Day Fool, said: "This is obviously intended to be light-hearted and to show we don't have to take ourselves too seriously, especially on May Day." Eco-campaigner Mr Robinson, who demonstrated against the building of the Bingley bypass in 1996, also recited a poem commemorating "The Battle of the Beanfield", when police stopped hundreds of peace campaigners from setting up the 14th Stonehenge free festival in Wiltshire, in June, 1985.
     The group claims the Henges are under threat from the quarrying. The area has the greatest concentration of late Neolithic and early Bronze Age sites in the UK. It also boasts the country's largest quarrying operation on prehistoric land, Nosterfield Quarry, which produces more than 500,000 tonnes of sand and gravel each year. The firm says it is not seeking to quarry on the earthworks which form the three 5,000-year-old circles which may have been a ceremonial meeting place.

Sources: BBC News, News.Telegraph.co.uk, Yorkshire Today (2 May 2005)

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