Beltane Festival

May 13, 2013

Many congratulations to the organisers of the Beltane Festival on Sunday 5th May. I believe it was the most succcessful yet with nearly a thousand people attending! The trust certainly benefited. Our stand at the festival received many visitors and it was good to meet so many new people. Throughout the day we managed to recruit 47 new members and were given donations amounting to £100.25. Many thanks to everyone.


Creation of Management Committee

March 14, 2013

We are very pleased to announce the creation of a Management Committee to take responsibility for the running of the trust. It was always our intention to broaden the trust's responsibilities to include a range of additional activities like outreach into schools and a community archaeology project. The trust must also get better at doing certain things, of which more regular contact with our members is the most important. All this requires more people getting actively involved and pushing forward on specific parts of the agenda. We believe the Management Committee will enable this to happen.

The new Management Committee currently consists of the three trustees, Dick Lonsdale, Margaret Smith, Lynn Cartwright, Susan Monk and Oliver Robinson. Each member brings with them expertise and experience which will allow the trust to grow. It held its first meeting on 16th February and put into place a number of exciting initiatives. It will meet again on 6th April. We will be telling our members more in the next update, which should be circulated in about a week.


Disturbance to the central henge: an update

November 22, 2012
As your know, the trustees recently wrote to Neil Redfern of English Heritage about the deteriorating condition of the central henge. The trust's membership have also been busy expressing their concerns to Dr Simon Thurley, the Chief Executive of English Heritage. It seems this effort has been productive. Simon Thurley wrote in his response to one of our members that "As a result of your intervention, we will be meeting the owners this week to discuss possible remedial actions, and we are hopeful we can achieve a positive outcome". The trustees will, of course, be replying to English Heritage - and we will continue to be watchful. But it appears this issue is now being taken very seriously.

Disturbance to the central henge

October 25, 2012
We continue to be greatly concerned about the current condition of the central Thornborough henge, especially since cattle are once again being grazed on the monument. Given it is a Scheduled site, the following letter has been sent to English Heritage's Regional Office in York:

25 October 2012


Dear Mr Neil Redfern,

I write to you on behalf of the Thornborough Heritage Trust, of which, as you know, I'm a Trustee. As you also know, the trust and I have been concerned for some time about the deteriorating physical condition of the earthen bank of the Scheduled central Thornborough henge. I first contacted you on 22 February 2011, highlighting how “the site is in a far worse state now than it was 10 years ago”, and asking “can anything be done before the damage gets worse?”. You replied that you were “well aware of the condition of the central henge and are actively trying to take steps to address the rabbit issue. This (sic) taking a little longer than I had hoped but we are working to get some works underway in the new financial year”. Given the subsequent lack of action, I also emailed you on 17 May 2012, and again on 31 May 2012, after your briefest of responses to the former. No further response was forthcoming and on 6 June I emailed again, making it clear that a FIA request, and a letter to London, would follow if I received no reply. You then promptly replied, saying, in relation to a programme of works, "I have the agreement to do this internally but have not made progress externally yet. I hope to do this in the next few weeks".

The trustees were therefore both shocked and surprised to hear that cattle are again being grazed on the central henge. Obviously, the damage that large cumbersome beasts can do to an earthwork already seriously damaged by rabbits and sheep could be catastrophic. Given the current situation, and the marked deterioration of the earthwork over the last two years, perhaps you would be so kind as to respond in writing and address the following queries from the Thornborough Heritage Trust:

1. When did you or other relevant parties from English Heritage last visit the central henge to inspect the damage? And have English Heritage been keeping a record of the site’s recent destruction which is exposing buried archaeology? Obviously, if this has not been done, then valuable archaeological evidence, relevant to the site’s construction and original appearance, could have been lost.

Have you now spoken or written to the landowner about the condition of the henge, and indeed, when did these conversation(s) take place? Moreover, and more specifically, did you offer any opinions or advice about the impact of animal grazing on the henge?

Could you confirm that monies are still available for a programme of protection at the central henge, let us know when these monies were first made available, and update us on what English Heritage have done to implement these works. We assume that there must be documentation relating to the internal agreement you refer to in one of your emails, and ideally, would like to see it so we can better appreciate what is being planned.

 Could you also confirm if the landowner has approved the programme of works and when these are likely to begin.

I deeply regret having to write to you like this, but the trust feels that given some of my earlier emails went unanswered, with the others receiving the briefest of responses, there is now no alternative. The seriousness and urgency of the current situation demands nothing less. Far too much time has been lost and too much damage has been done to this remarkable archaeology, whilst the current grazing of cattle suggests a potentially catastrophic winter for the henge. I would add that this is yet another public relations disaster in the area for English Heritage. In the spirit of openness and transparency, please note that this letter will be made public to the trust’s members, via our blog.

Perhaps I could finish, by repeating what I've said in previous emails to you - that the Thornborough Heritage Trust will do what it can to assist should we be asked or if opportunities arise. We do have a highly motivated membership. But I must emphasise that the trust is determined to put an end to the destruction of this regionally, nationally and internationally important Scheduled site.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Jan Harding
for and on behalf of the Thornborough Heritage Trust


Disturbance to the central henge

June 11, 2012
We are greatly concerned about the condition of Thornborough's central henge. Animal disturbance to its earthwork has been a problem in recent years, and concerned individuals contacted English Heritage 16 months ago to alert them as to its deteriorating state. We contacted them again in May 2012. The decline in the physical integrity of its bank is alarming and suggests that action is urgently needed.

Posted by The Trustees

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal

May 8, 2012

Harrogate Borough Council is currently consulting on a proposed extension of the Buffer Zone around Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. They write:

Since 2001 the Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal WHS Management Plan has proposed a buffer zone. The purpose of a buffer zone is to ensure that proposals for development take into account any potential impact on the outstanding universal value of the WHS and its setting. In 2011, as part of work to draft new planning policies for managing development, the Council consulted on draft Policy EQ4, which includes protection for the WHS and its buffer zone. As a result of consultation responses a change to the buffer zone boundary is suggested to include an additional area of land. The Council would like to hear your views on the revised buffer zone boundary and associated changes to Draft Policy EQ4: Designated Assets before 4:30pm on 25 May 2012. The buffer zone previously consulted on includes a large area around the WHS. It is now proposed that this area be extended to include the important vista from the WHS to Ripon Cathedral and to Blois Hall Farm.

To see their map and find out how to respond please visit


CBA Yorkshire

March 26, 2012
We are delighted to announce the trust is now an Affiliate Member of CBA (Council for British Archaeology) Yorkshire. For further information on the extremely important work of this organisation please go to:

We intend to be an active and supportive member of CBA Yorkshire.

The Trustees

HSI Newsletter

March 26, 2012
A short introduction to the trust appears in the March Newsletter of the Heritage Skills Initiative (HSI):

The Trustees


March 10, 2012

We have been getting some publicity over the last few weeks with newspaper items about the trust in the Darlington and Stockton Times (24/02/12), Harrogate and Ripon News and the Ripon Gazette (02/03/12).

We are also getting mentioned on blogs and other web sites:

archdeacon in the dales

Thank you to everyone! The publicity is helping us greatly.

The Trustees


Press Release

February 21, 2012

We have released the following Press Release:

The spectacular Neolithic and Bronze Age monument complex at Thornborough, in Yorkshire’s North Riding, has been sadly neglected for many decades. Despite being of unique cultural value — 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. That this icon of Yorkshire and England is in such a poor state is a national disgrace.

The Thornborough Heritage Trust has recently been created to ensure these monuments, and the ‘sacred plateau’ which surround it, have a brighter future. Organised by three Trustees, it has two principal aims:
(1) to promote the conservation, preservation and protection of the Thornborough henges and other archaeological and historical sites in North Yorkshire, including their landscape setting, for the benefit of the public; (2) to advance the education of the public and to raise and encourage public awareness, knowledge and understanding of the significance, value and importance of the Thornborough henges and other archaeological and historical sites.

This charitable trust has its roots in the local community and will be an inclusive organisation free for all to join. It is financially dependent on donations and currently looking for private and corporate sponsors.

Tarmac Ltd has offered to donate some of its landholding at Thornborough “to an appropriate body for management as a public amenity in perpetuity”.  This offer has been made as part of their planning application to extend the Nosterfield Quarry to Langwith House Farm. The trust welcomes this offer, but believes the application contains insufficient information about the impact of further mineral extraction and should therefore be withdrawn, with the land being transferred before any amended resubmission is considered. The trust is ideally placed to play an active part in further negotiations about the future of this landholding.

The trust is currently organising events to benefit the general public, including for the Festival of British Archaeology organised between 14th-29th July 2012 by the Council for British Archaeology.



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