THE TIMES APRIL 15 1998 p9
DRUIDS ALLOWED BACK FOR SOLSTICE AT STONEHENGE
By Simon de Bruxelles
AS THE sun rises over the Heel Stone at Stonehenge on midsummer's day, white- robed Druid priests will be there to greet it for the first time in a decade. The Druids, who claim descent from Celtic priests who organised resistance to Caesar about 2,000 years ago, were banned along with other worshippers, including white witches and New Age travellers, in 1988. The ban followed clashes between police and crowds of up to 30,000 people who converged on the prehistoric site in an attempt to revive the annual Stonehenge free festival. The arrangement was proposed after Druids were allowed to perform rituals to mark the autumn and spring equinoxes and the winter solstice. At the winter solstice last December, nearly 40 people took part in a half-hour ceremony at the 5,000-year-old monument with a solitary policeman looking on. However, some local people are fearful that the Druids may bring camps of hippies in their wake. One local resident said: "We were all affected by the hippies coming through our village - we had a terrible time with them." On June 21 more than 100 Druids in white robes and carrying ceremonial swords are expected to be allowed to see in the summer solstice. At the first ray of the midsummer sun the Chief Druid, in a long robe with scarlet hood, will lead his followers on a procession. English Heritage intends to lift the four-mile exclusion zone for 100 Druids. The 10,000 other people ex- pected for the solstice will still be excluded. Rollo Maughfling, the Arch- Druid of Stonehenge and Glastonbury, gave a cautious welcome to the offer yesterday. He said: "Limited access is definitely better than no access at all but we will still be fighting on for free access." In a letter to Salisbury District Council, Elizabeth Neville, Wiltshire's Chief Constable, said: "I am pleased that we appear finally to be moving away from the `stalemate' position we found ourselves in following the massed protests of less than a decade ago." But she gave warning that there was still a need for the exclusion zone: "There is growing interest in the concept of a `Stonehenge free millennium megafest'." The proposal to allow the Druids on the site was agreed at a meeting last week between the various religious groups, the police and English Heritage. It will go before Salisbury District Council for approval but the Home Secretary has a final say. Other quasi-religious groups that claim access were disappointed. Kevin Carlyon, leader of the Covenant of Earth Magic, a group of white witches, said that exclusion could lead to a riot. He said: "There will definitely be trouble if they grant exclusive access to one group and not another. There are going to be 10,000 other worshippers turning up with just as much right to access as the Druids." Clews Everard, in charge of Stonehenge, appealed for all groups to accept the compro- mise. She said: "We are looking for a way in which we can allow access for all who want it."
[pic] Neville: said exclusion zone was still needed
[pic] The Druids were banned from celebrating the solstice at Stonehenge by English Heritage in 1988 after a series of clashes with police.
Leading article, page 19 [none, Druid article p18]
THE INDEPENDENT FRIDAY 6 JUNE 1997 p3. (+pic) Stephen Goodwin. Heritage Correspondent
Druids to go free as Stonehenge plans to drop entrance charges.
Stonehenge, sacred stones of the Druids and the most important
Megalithic site in Europe. could soon become a truly public place once
again. Entry to the 5,000-year-old stone circle today costs £3.70
for an adult and under the Millennium Park Scheme being pushed until yesterday
by English Heritage and the Tussauds Group the ticket price would have
nearly doubled. Last year 725,000 paid to visit the stones and another
250,000 are reckoned to have peered at them through the chain link fence
by the A344. But in a politically-astute move, Sir Jocelyn Stevens, chairman
of the heritage quango, has switched to the idea of free public access,
a notion likely to appeal to the lottery-funded Millennium Commission.
which is being asked for £20m, and to the Labour government. Greater
public access to the nation's treasures is a basic tenet of Sir Jocelyn's
new political master, Chris Smith. the Secretary of state for National
Heritage. English Heritage committed itself to improvements at Stonehenge
after the site and visitor facilities were condemned as a "national
disgrace" in 1992 by a House of Commons committee. Sir Jocelyn made
it a personal ambition of his chairmanship that people should he able to
"touch the stones" again. But the ambitious plan for a 6,000-acre
Millennium Park on the Wiltshire downs, with Stonehenge at its heart, ran
into problems owing to the £83m cost and criticism of the "Disneyland"
trackless-train touring the stones. The Millennium Commission, which is
being asked to pay half, had doubts about where the rest of the money was
coming from and about the benefit to the public from the scheme. Under
the revised plan, a main road running within 300 yards of the stones will
still be grassed over and 2,000 acres of Wiltshire downland will be restored
to a natural setting. The Tussauds visitor centre will be moved from a
site 3km from the stones to within Ikm at Larkhill. There will he no need
for a train, parking will be free and visitors can walk to the stones.
Tussauds, who will manage the site. will charge for entry to an interpretation
centre, using virtual reality techniques, and there will also be retail
and catering facilities. The Millennium Commission will consider the revised
plan next week, but a decision on funding will not he made before autumn.
If £20m is forthcoming from the lottery. Tussauds will put in £lOm,
with the remaining £lOm coming from English Heritage and the National
Trust, the major landowner. "It will he a free site for the public's
benefit," said Sir Jocelyn, who told Mr Smith about the change at
a meeting last week. Charging has been a feature at Stonehenge ever since
the site was given to the nation early this century, and probably before
that. But even if it is approved by the Millennium Commission, the project
still faces hurdles. Conservationists are certain to object to the resiting
of the visitor centre at Larkhill, within the World Heritage Site and close
to a mysterious 2.5km-long Neolithic feature known as the Cursus. Kate
Fielden, secretary of the Avebury Society, whose interest extends to Stonehenge,
said the emphasis had to he on removing the Z0th-century clutter- a commitment
once made by Sir Jocelyn. "It would be a tragedy for us to treat such
an important site in such a shameful way. The object must be restore the
landscape around this monument to make it a place that people can come
to and go away uplifted." According to Sir Jocelyn, the visitor centre
would be in low-lying "dead ground' and all that would be visible
from the stones would be the heads of visitors viewing the site from a
roof gallery. "The choice was to build the centre off the World Heritage
Site and have transport, or to build on, out of sight, and let people walk."
Doing the latter removed the "fairground" element of the train
and allowed the stones their natural dignity, he said. Visitor numbers
could well double after May 2001, the earliest likely opening date for
the people's Stonehenge.
SUMMER SOLSTICE 1998 Newsletter bits.
ACCESS: On 11th May English Heritage
called a meeting of interested parties to discuss the possibility of a
ticket only, limited access arrangement for the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge.
This meeting followed on from a meeting they had on 9th April with representatives
from a few Druid groups which had been widely reported in the press. English
Heritage were keen to point out that they had never intended to offer access
exclusively to Druid groups but would consider access to any group who
would comply with a criteria of:
a) Applying to E.H. by the end of May
b) Supplying a list of names and addresses for all those attending
c) Providing names for people within each group who would act as stewards and be willing to accept responsibility for the behaviour of their group.
E.H stressed that this would be a trial arrangement and would be watched with interest by concerned parties (i.e police, locals, etc) and assessed before any promises of similar arrangements for future years could be made. The maximum number of people that E.H felt they could invite was 100. E.H said they would select as broad a group as they could from the applications before them.
The ticket issue has arisen on a few occasions over the years of our exclusion from Stonehenge and therefore the Stonehenge Campaign has had many occasions on which to debate this at our open meetings and has always come to the same conclusion. This is that tickets will never be acceptable to the Campaign and we will never accept tickets on behalf of the Campaign. It is felt that tickets include those ‘in the know’ and exclude anyone who does not know the right people, didn’t know in time, aren’t together enough to apply, or simply got up that morning and decided to go to the Stones. Tickets by definition exclude people and the Campaign wants to see free access for all. We therefore felt that the Campaign had no part to play in discussions with E.H on ticket allocation. Two Campaign regulars attended the meeting without the Campaign ‘hat’ on and reported back the above. They felt that with so many groups and representatives at the meeting (approx 25) each group would be lucky to get half a dozen tickets. It was noticed that some of the groups represented had never, until tickets were offered, shown an interest in being at Henge for the Solstice.
Police chiefs at the meeting stressed that a ban on assemblies would still be in force but did not clarify how they would be policing non-ticket holders except to say that this year they hoped that the situation could progress towards a scaling down of their involvement in the Summer Solstice.
It will be interesting to see how 100 tickets can be made representative, and also how those of us heading to the Stones at sunrise without tickets will be greeted. Meanwhile we hope that future access arrangements will be inclusive rather than representative.
The Electrification of Stonehenge.
for Trevor Grahamslaw
There is power everywhere. Druid-
Speak. Grown old before their time, trying to
Elevate the race. So the grid is built
And fairly hums with power, draws it up
And transmutes base Britain into precious
Logres. Plots the stars and planets too and
For a time at least, holds back the darkness,
So a boy-King can pass into legend.
Now. We burn and split and our cells revolt.
Acid pours from the sky and the Daily
News reads like the Book of Revelations.
Power is everywhere, channelled through
Fences, keeping us from our heritage.
Happy Solstice, one and all,
March Equinox morning I bimbled into the Stones, talked
with Skinny about old Welsh Free Festivals. When the druids had mumbo jumboed
I tinwhistled for a minute with a random drummer - ah, great to be back
Have you heard what the French are doing for the Millennium? Planting a million trees. The transport planners want to widen the A303 past Stonehenge so they’d have a dual carriageway all the way from London to Cornwall: let’s have a full and detailed archaeological survey of whatever land they’d plan to trash, and I bet something amazing would turn up - where did the builders of Stonehenge live?
And if they blast a tunnel past the Stones surely the vibrations would destroy it - would they build us a new one?
But close the A344 by the Helestone forthwith.
( I may not be able to get to the Stonehenge Walks this summer, I’ve had some trouble from a nutter spreading false rumours - phone me 07970-378572 )
TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR STONEHENGE =================================================================
Issues of peoples’ rights and responsibilities remain unresolved and there has been a troubled history of alienation and confrontation around this very ancient monument which is a World Heritage site and continues to resonate as a central point in the spiritual history and in the regional consciousness of identity for people in these islands. One only has to mention topics like The Stonehenge Peoples’ Free Festival, Religious Rights of Druids and Pagans, The Stonehenge Exclusion Zone, or New Age Travellers, to find oneself in a region of seemingly irreconcilable controversy.
The Stonehenge Peace Process believes that a solution to the problems of the Solstice celebrations can be found in terms of a just compromise that recognises the legitimate needs of all parties. This can only happen if all parties take part in the process and if there is a real spirit of reconciliation between them. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission hopes to draw upon the experience and vision that guided the builders of the new South Africa by using a similar model in which everyone, residents, Druids, police, travellers, custodians, festival-goers and politicians and so on, are invited to tell their story in a public forum and have it recorded in a permanent archive. In order that the Process may be full and free and fair it is essential that the Commission itself is balanced and has representatives for all the people and areas of expertise that may be involved in this process. We propose to seek panel members from these areas:
Police; The Churches; Pagans & Druids; Other faiths; The local Community; Landowners; Academia; the Media; The Law; festival-goers & travellers; Local Government; the Peace Movement; National Government; The M.O.D.; English Heritage & The National Trust.
Different prominent individuals from these fields may fill these posts from time to time in practise, each acting to focus the contributions their colleagues can make to the process. Thomas Daffern, Director of the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy is the instigator of the idea and has the experience and committment to lead the process through to completion as Chair of the Commission. George Firsoff, Secretary & instigator of the Stonehenge Peace Process, will act as Co-ordinator and Vice-Chair. Funding will be sought to pay for an Administrator, running costs and for the expenses of witnesses.
The first meeting of the Commission will take place on June 1st 1998, the 13th anniversary of the Incident in the Beanfield. The Stonehenge Peace Process declares June 1st 1998 to be the first Day of Truth and Reconciliation at Stonehenge. We also recognise that Reconciliation is a work that takes longer than one day.
Thomas Daffern, 4 Woolas Hall, Bredon Hill, Nr Pershore, Worcs. WR10 3DY. tel: 01386-750965 email: TDaffern@bigfoot.com
George Firsoff, 96 Church Road, Redfield, Bristol, BS5 9LE. tel: 0117-9542273 email: email@example.com
[Next meeting Sept 5th]
VISITOR CENTRE: On April Fools day,
Chris Smith (minister for Culture, Media and Sport), announced yet another
plan for a Visitor Centre and road scheme for Stonehenge. The new site
would be behind Fargo Woods, nearly a mile NW of the Stones, between the
W. end of the Cursus and the road. This site has been rejected in the past
as too archaeologically sensitive and having a less attractive approach
to the Stones than others. However it is now the preferred site as potential
local objectors to an access road all live east of the Stones, whereas
access would be from the west in this scheme, with the A344 being closed
where it passes the Helestone, from Fargo Woods to the A303. To gain further
local support, English Heritage have now agreed that dualling of the A303
on its present route (on ‘inviolate’ National Trust land) across the World
Heritage Site is ‘essential’. 2 km of the widened road past the Stones
would be in a ‘cut and cover’ tunnel, some of the rest in cuttings. The
covered tunnel would re-unite the severed landscape at surface level, with
English Heritage saying they would like to remove all the fences, with
visitors paying only to park.
However the proposed tunnel is the size of a full six-lane underground motorway, and would require a huge trench to be dug close to the Stones. One or two burial mounds might have to go. The scheme may be included in the new roads programme to be announced in June/July. [it was]
Sounds like a first breach in the wall that at least some of the Druids are being allowed in for summer solstice - hope first step to a real solution and that government in due course will act to respect the sacred nature of the place on a par with those of other beliefs.
Best wishes, Steve.
BEFORE THE SYSTEM’S SWALLOWING
Wordsworth’s night wanderer on the plain
sensed teachers of wisdom and
blood-sacrificers of men.
Later in same vastness met
woman who’d lost her family to colonial
war, mind to madness of government
altar of deadly power crowned London,
by Alan Lodge - Tash)
John Pendragon’s death is a big sadness. I knew him for only a tiny slice of his life, but he remains to me a model of how to live. He was one of those who gave his time to come and help campaign against the eviction of the 160 strong Huntley Street squat, off Tottenham Court Road, London, in 1978. His warm, open friendliness, his tireless work, and his freedom from intrigue and malice are what I remember. His story of how he grazed his horse on Hampstead Heath ( whether it was true or not! ) makes me laugh even now. I met him only twice since then; the last time being two years ago at the Rainbow Centre at an aggregate meeting of “The Land is Ours”. His calm, friendly reasonableness, and unremitting world changing energy were with him still. My own tradition is Trotskyist; his own an unsectarian anarchism. His life proved that in comradely struggle these differences can melt away. Best wishes, Dave Bangs.
John Pendragon was an inspirational character who believed
that the core of the ‘peace and love’ ethic of the sixties contained practical
ideals fundamental to the survival of a sustainable counter-culture. He
passed his message on to succeeding decades at an individual level and
through his magazine, ‘FREEDOM Festivals and Events’, which soon evolved
into ‘Tribal Messenger’.
He took part in all the Stonehenge Festivals, notably contributing to the magical solstice ceremonies in the Stones. Never one to go with the flow unless he was sure it was the right direction, he warned against increasing commercialism within the festival as it moved into the eighties. At the last event in 1984, he set up an 'Alternative Free Festival’ within the festival - a small stage in a dealer-free zone that recreated the spirit of the early festivals. He protested at the damage being caused to the nearby woods, becoming a founder member of ’Robins Greenwood Gang’, which was set up to deal with the problem. “The Stonehenge festival for myself and thousands of other people was about the opposite to commercialism and war. It was about love, peace, sharing, happiness, ecology, beauty, brotherhood and sisterhood, Yin and Yang, meditation and celebration, physical and spiritual awareness, Rock and Roll, music and theatre, sunshine and sun-bathing, alternative life-style and cosmic energy.” JP, TM ‘89
In an attempt to avert what was to be the ‘Battle of the Beanfield’, John was involved in a last-minute effort in 1985 to persuade the National Trust that the problems they quoted as leading to the ban had already been addressed by the festival community. After some progress, ‘London’ said ‘no talking’, and the die was cast.
He campaigned against the ensuing crackdown on the travelling lifestyle, but was dismayed at the way alternative communities began to mirror some of the greed and violence of mainstream society. John was among those who influenced the emergence of the current non-violent direct action movement, and for the last few years was an active eco-warrior, living out his ideals on protest sites around the country.
In the end, John was a victim of the corrupt polluters he fought against. He worked with asbestos many years ago, when the dangers of the material were known but kept secret by the industry, and workers were unprotected. A few months ago he contracted mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer whose only known cause is asbestos. He died on 13th April, and was cremated at Yeovil on 29th. On Beltane eve his ashes were scattered at a wake on Glastonbury Tor.
One Tribe, One Love, One People
John Pendragon Project
For details of a future commemoration of John’s life, write to ‘Pendragon event’, c/o Festival Eye, BCM 2002, London WC1 N 3XX.
Any writings, art etc by, about, or inspired by John, please to: John Pendragon project, c/o Assembly Rooms, High St. Glastonbury. BA6 9DU
A tape made at the wake on the Tor, with other material,
will be available soon. For details, contact SHC, c/o 99 Torriano Ave,
London NW5 2RX
, ______ _________ _______ , , / Free \ / The \ / Stones \ , , \________/ \_________/ \_______ / , , ____ ___ ___ ____ , , / \ / \ / \ / \ , , | | | | o | ! ! ! , , | | | | m | ! ! ! ,