The Thornborough Henges is one of the most important pre-historic site in Britain, yet scarcely visited by tourists. It’s an earthwork complex located near the village of Thornborough, close to the town of Masham in North Yorkshire, England. This area in the Vale of Mowbray, has a remarkable collection of Neolithic monuments including no less than six large henges, all of similar size and design, and located within 10 km of each other. The Thornborough Henges is the most impressive among these.
Henges are a particular type of earthwork of the Neolithic period, typically consisting of a roughly circular ring of bank with a ditch inside. The Thornborough Henges comprises of three henges almost identical in size and composition, each having a diameter of approximately 240 meters with an earth ring 3 meters high. A 12 meter berm separated the banks from the internal ditches which were each about 20 meters wide and 3 meters deep while all three henges had twin entrances to the northwest and the southeast. The henges are located around 550 m apart on an approximate northwest-southeast alignment, though not exactly in a straight line. Altogether, the monument extends for more than a mile.
The northern henge is currently overgrown with trees but is the best preserved. It still has a high bank and deep ditches with the two entrances both clearly defined. Both the central and the southernmost henges are badly damaged in places but it are still recognizable as henge structures. Originally, the banks of the hedges were covered with locally mined gypsum, making them glitter in the sun and visible for miles around.
Like most Neolithic monuments around Britain, the actual purpose of the Thornborough Henges in unclear. It may have been built for religious or astronomical purpose. The latter is based on the observation that the three henges of the Thornborough Henges are aligned with the three stars of Orion's belt. This same astronomical alignment can be found at the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the pyramids of Teotihuacan, the pyramids of Xian, and also at the sites of the Hopi tribe in Arizona.
It is estimated that the Thornborough Henges were constructed between 4000 and 3500 BC, which makes the henges the first monument in the world aligned to Orion, predating the pyramids by 1,000 years.
Today, the Thornborough Henges are located on privately owned land, and there is no official public access to the site because of which the monument receives little visitors and publicity.
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