Today (Feb 9) English Heritage, which already controlled two of the henges, will take control of the site and will be welcoming the public to the massive Neolithic monument – a move welcomed by Prime Minister and local MP Rishi Sunak.
The full site consists of three giant, circular earthworks – or henges – which are each more than 200m in diameter and date from 3500 to 2500 BC, although the third henge is not yet open to the public.
Historic England said the Thornborough Henges site is “probably the most important single ancient site between Stonehenge and the Orkney Islands in Scotland”, describing it as the “Stonehenge of the North”.
The central and southern henges have been gifted by Tarmac into the legal ownership of Historic England, the Government’s heritage adviser, as part of the National Heritage Collection which includes Stonehenge, Iron Bridge and Dover Castle.
The third henge has been brought under England Heritage’s control thanks to the support of The National Heritage Memorial Fund, Jamie Ritblat and family, and The SCS Trust.
Mr Sunak said: “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.
“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.”
Historic England said the Thornborough Henges sit in an ancient, ritual prehistoric landscape running from Ferrybridge to Catterick and are “unparalleled in their size, alignment and degree of preservation”.
Like Stonehenge, it is thought the huge amount of people power channelled into their construction is an indication of their significance to the society that created them.