Sand Hutton is an ancient village mentioned in the Domesday Book that is now part of the council district of Ryedale. It is six miles north of York and not far from Malton, the market town where Claudia lived as a child.
The gravel pits that have been drained in the past week as part of the Claudia Lawrence investigation are a former quarry and now used as fishing lakes, with the rights held by the York & District Amalgamation of Anglers.
Sand Hutton is best known as the location of a government research laboratory. The DEFRA-run site focuses on food, agricultural and environmental science innovation and over 400 employees are based there. The road cordoned off as part of the police searches is close to the site's entrance.
Sand Hutton has a population of around 200 and the manor once had its own narrow gauge steam railway and private fire brigade when it was owned by the Conservative politician Sir Robert Walker. He later sold the estate to the Church of England commissioners, who still own much of the land today. Sand Hutton Hall itself has been demolished.
Police confirmed today that several other locations are also being searched, but did not clarify whether remains have yet been found.
University of York chef Claudia was 35 when she vanished after leaving her home in the Heworth area of the city to walk to work for an early morning shift in March 2009. No trace of her has ever been found and nobody has ever been charged over her disappearance.
Her father Peter, who tirelessly campaigned for information on the case, died in February, aged 74. He is survived by Claudia's mother Joan, his former wife, and her sister Alison.