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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Planners to visit monument site
Thornborough Henges from the air
Each henge consists of circular earth banks and ditches
Council planners are to make a site visit before a final decision on plans to quarry near an ancient monument knows as the Stonehenge of the north.

Tarmac has applied to quarry sand and gravel at Ladybridge Farm in North Yorkshire, near Thornborough Henges.

If approved, campaigners fear the work may help destroy clues about why the 5,000-year-old earthworks were built.

The company said it believed the land could accommodate both quarrying and conservation of the henges, near Ripon.

Tarmac is continuing to play an active and supportive part in consultation on the future conservation of the monuments and adjoining area
Tarmac spokesman

Local campaign group Timewatch, which has collected a petition of more than 1,500 signatures against the plans, said the quarry would contribute to the permanent loss of nationally important archaeology.

US-based conservation group the Landmarks Foundation has also weighed into the debate, describing the quarry proposals as a tragedy.

The henges are believed to represent one of Britain's largest ritual gathering places from the Neolithic period.

Tarmac already has a quarry at Nosterfield, close to the ancient henges which consist of three earthworks built in a line running north-south for about a mile.

Map showing location of Thornborough Henges
The henges are in open countryside near the A1

Tarmac has said the planned quarry extension is on farmland where there is only "thin and scattered" evidence of prehistoric activity, according to a recent study by archaeological consultants.

In a statement, the company said the actual henges were under no threat from quarrying because of their status as protected ancient monuments.

"Tarmac is continuing to play an active and supportive part in consultation on the future conservation of the monuments and adjoining area," a spokesman said.

Members of the North Yorkshire County Council planning board will visit the site in August before holding a special meeting to discuss the application on 20 September.

Thousands support quarry petition
01 Jul 05 |  North Yorkshire
US campaigners join henges battle
16 Jun 05 |  North Yorkshire
'No evidence' of historic remains
24 May 05 |  North Yorkshire
Pagan ritual used by campaigners
02 May 05 |  North Yorkshire
Fight to stop quarry growth plans
03 Jun 04 |  South Yorkshire

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