At first glance, today's Object of the Week looks like a mini Stonehenge - but all is not as it seems.

A remarkable feature with a huge ring of stones and megaliths with an altar is hidden in woodland about two miles south west of Swinton Park, near Masham, North Yorkshire.

Here is a complete Stonehenge - though a little smaller than the Wiltshire monument of that name. However, unlike Stonehenge or the impressive Thornborough Henges - that lie nearby to the east of Masham - this is fake and folly.

Built in 1820, the henge was the concept of an eccentric North Yorkshire country squire, William Danby of Swinton who employed local men to construct it at during a period when Britain was suffering severe unemployment. He paid the workers a shilling a day for their efforts.

The Northern Echo: The Druid's Temple, near Masham, may look like a mini Stonehenge, but it is in fact a 19th century

This Regency-era folly mirrors Stonehenge and reflects the fascination Georgians and early Victorians held with Druids.

Danby, a former Sheriff of Yorkshire and owner of the nearby Swinton Park, was said to have been inspired by Stonehenge's grandeur and is the reason why he chose to create his own personalised Druid's Temple.

The stones range up to 10 feet high and form an arrangement measuring 100 feet long, arranged around a low stone altar. At the back of the circle was a cave in the style of a tomb.

A peculiar note to the temple's story is the hermit Danby hired to live in the temple for seven years without speaking to anyone, ungroomed and instructed to allow his beard to grow like the druids of yore.

Unfortunately the severe lifestyle proved too challenging and the lonely druid stayed for only four years.

The Northern Echo: Danby hired a hermit to live in the temple for seven years - but he failed to last the full distanceDanby hired a hermit to live in the temple for seven years - but he failed to last the full distance (Image: THE NORTHERN ECHO)

According to some sources, antiquarians like Danby imagined an idyllic golden age of British history, steered by a Druidic elite.

Despite the temple's purpose being widely known, fanciful tales of the Druid's Temple being a hive for devil worship and ghostly visitations have become part of its aura.

The fascination with the site even extended to the House of Lords in 2000, when Baroness Masham of Ilton described a distressing scene during an argument against unrestricted public access to the countryside.

She said: "One Sunday afternoon, my secretary was going for a walk with a friend when she found a pig’s head sitting on the altar, which gave her a terrific shock. It is though that there has been Devil worship there.”

She also said that on another occasion, she encountered a group of "cold and frightened" students who had spent the night at the Druid's Temple, adding: "With the night shadows and the country noises, such as owls hooting, they had fled... They told me that they had had a terrible experience.”

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Another incident involved students from Manchester holding a rave there, which resulted in gates being torn off their hinges and trees being used to make a huge bonfire.

The site's caretakers, Swinton Estate, keep it well-preserved for visitors wanting to enjoy a walk amongst the towering monoliths.

The Temple remains open from dawn to dusk.