York to get its own Stonehenge! Prehistoric experience planned for city

16 Dec 2020 @ 7.32 am
| Changing city

Replicas of Stonehenge and Iron Age round houses are planned for York, as part of a proposed new educational and recreation centre. 

It would also include a Neolithic-style Long House and Long Barrow, and would be open to the general public and educational groups if the proposals are approved. A planning application has been submitted to City of York Council. 

The application is for farmland behind Moor House in Narrow Lane, Wigginton.

Additional documents suggest it would be called the Wichestun Henge Prehistory Centre. Wichestun was the name of Wigginton 1,000 years ago. The site is 3.29 hectares – about the size of four to five football pitches. 

The planning statement says:  

“The change of use of the site to a pre-historic recreation and education centre would involve the land being divided into four main areas: The Mesolithic, the Neolithic, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age, with each area demonstrating how it would have been during these time periods.  

“Within each area structures or landforms are proposed to provide an educational and recreational resource.

“The Mesolithic area would necessitate the formation of a pond and the introduction of landscaping.

“The Neolithic area would necessitate the formation of a longhouse and longbarrow, and a series of animal pens.

“The Bronze Age would necessitate the formation of a smaller roundhouse and stone circle. The Iron Age would necessitate the formation of a large roundhouse, two smaller roundhouses and a pond.” 

Rich part of the past

The plans for the site. Image: planning documents

There would also be on-site toilets, solar panels to power the new buildings, and 48 parking spaces. The application form says the site would create six full-time jobs. 

The site is in the greenbelt but national planning guidance says one of the reasons why development can be permitted is for “outdoor recreation”, which the applicant, Mr J Parish, says his development would be. 

Professor Nicky Milner, head of the University of York’s archaeology department, has backed the plans. In a letter submitted with the application, she said the plan was exciting and could give school groups and the public a ‘prehistoric experience’.  

She wrote: “York is known internationally for its archaeological heritage. Most of the archaeological attractions in York relate to historical periods.

“Yet Yorkshire has a rich prehistoric past, which deserves the attention this centre will bring.” 

Prof Milner said the university was keen to widen its public engagement, and would be keen to work with the centre to introduce more people to archaeology. 

Information about the plans has already been sent to some local schools. The planning application can be seen in full here, on the City of York Council planning website.