A great earthen temple or ‘henge’ thousands of years old may exist under a village near York.

Archaeologists are to begin surveying the site at Kirk Hammerton after evidence emerged that a Neolithic temple may have been erected there 4,500 years ago.

Aerial drone surveys have found their distinctive markings, such as a ditch, which like other found henges, are close to waterways.

Tony Hunt, who runs Yorkshire Aerial Archaeological Mapping, says aerial photography or lasers on drones have uncovered ten such henges across Yorkshire.

They range from the almost complete Northern Henge at Thornborough, near Bedale, to the totally ploughed out examples at Nunwick, near Ripon, and the recently discovered example at Sinderby, also near Ripon.

Tony graduated in archaeological sciences from Bradford University in 1987 and is currently managing director of DJ Assembly, a York-based micro-electronics company.

He said: “I started YAA Mapping as a hobby in 1996, doing aerial photography for community archaeology. This led to me becoming the Chair of the Council for British Archaeology in Yorkshire, and also writing up my developments for an MA at Hull University.”

Now, Tony says it appears the church at Kirk Hammerton is built on an artificially-created flat and unusually, the village was also built above it.

Tony, who speaks to history groups, plans to investigate the site further with Jon Kenny, who runs the Greater York Community Archaeology Project. The aim is to involve the public in a community-led project in partnership with the Kirk Hammerton History Group.

Tony said: “It’s very exciting. I think there’s something definitely worth investigating. We wouldn’t have had the interest from the archaeologists if there wasn’t.”

A public meeting at Kirk Hammerton Village Hall on Monday February 20 at 7.30pm will feature the pair talking on henges and why there maybe one in the village.

Further drone work may rule out a henge by the Spring, but if it seems there is one, excavations should begin by the summer.

Jon Kenny said: “Potentially, it’s very exciting.”

He and others were still carrying out research but it was “exciting that something is showing up in aerial photography.”

“It’s a real, big surprise. It would be really cool to pick up this Neolithic centre.”

Yorkshire has other similar henges, he says, including the ‘big one’ at Thornborough.

Kirk Hammerton looks to have a bank, and if there is a ditch, people can get more excited. Indeed, future excavations will depend on community support.

Jon added: “If the enthusiasm is there, we will go forward. This will be something driven by the community. Although they are getting expert advice, it’s their excavation.”

For more details or to take part, contact Tony at YAAMapping@aol.com, or check out the YAA Mapping Facebook page.