Four years ago a number of demos were held to challenge the newly-passed
Criminal Justice Act. One of these was to have been at Stonehenge, to
commemorate the 10th anniversary of the ‘Battle of the Beanfield’ on 1st June.
Wiltshire police over-reacted. They banned it, using the first order to be made
under s70 of the CJA to prohibit ‘trespassory assemblies’ within four miles of
the Stones. The demo was moved to Figsbury Ring, where the National Trust access
track was closed for live firing by the Army and filled with (bullet-proof?)
riot vans. People made their way from there and elsewhere to the Stones during
the day, and at 7 in the evening the police moved in. Two people in a group on
the verge by the Heelstone refused to move and were arrested. Three weeks later
at the Solstice, Arthur Pendragon was arrested under a second ban, but acquitted
as not being a part of the main group. Margaret Jones and Richard Lloyd, the
‘Stonehenge Two’ from June 1st, could and should have also been acquitted by
evidence that the 20 people needed to make an assembly weren’t there, and that
would have been the end of the story. Convicted by the magistrates, they
appealed and won. The Crown Court said that as the group had been peaceful and
non-obstructive, they had not been trespassing, so the order did not apply. The
Judge wistfully looked forward to the 10th anniversary of the 10th anniversary
of the Beanfield, hoping this case would be then seen as a milestone in
improving relations with the police at the Stones. The police were having none
of it. They appealed to the High Court, insisting that the public only had the
right to ‘pass and repass’ on a road, anything else being a trespass that the
police might tolerate but didn’t have to. Their arguments were based on rulings
from the days when highways were mostly just accepted routes, for horses and
carts and peasants on foot, across the estates of the landowners. This time the
police won, and the Court ordered the ‘Two’ to be retried. However they managed
to get an appeal to the House of Lords on the basic question of: what are the
limits of the public’s right of access to the public highway?
The Law Lords not only finally set aside the convictions, but went much
further, effectively extending the Law to establish for the first time "an issue
of fundamental constitutional importance" - that "there is a public right of
peaceful assembly on the highway." The police have always assumed the opposite
until now. The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine, also a Cabinet member) was
startlingly clear in his lead judgement on an issue that has always been
carefully fudged in the past. "..the public highway is a public place which the
public may enjoy for any reasonable purpose.." so long as it is not a nuisance
or an obstruction. He goes on to "deprecate any attempt artificially to
restrict" this right, and politely rubbishes those parts of the CJA that do. He
says that any gathering on or by a road should be treated fairly as it happens,
not limited beforehand by orders based on what a policeman thinks, which is
exactly what the more draconian parts of the CJA depend on. Powers apparently
given to the police by the CJA and PoA to limit the time and numbers for a group
are "an unwarranted restriction." The ruling applies equally to tracks and paths
across private land, although in practice these can be more easily claimed to be
Margaret and Richard were there that 1st of June as anti-CJA protestors in
the spirit of mutual support that seemed at the time to be the only way for the
different groups affected to have a chance of achieving anything. All those who
took part in the demos and actions can take some credit for this positive result
eventually emerging from the mass of court cases. Even those who suffered in the
Beanfield itself might find a crumb of comfort in the irony of their ordeal
leading fourteen years later to Wiltshire Police accidentally establishing
Freedom of Assembly in this country.
So what does all this right-to-be-on-a-road stuff (see front page) mean? In
theory the starting point of any discussion on the street or a road with a
policeman who would rather you were not there has now completely changed, as
long as everyone realises it. That old standby, an imagined breach of the peace,
will not wash either unless it is real and imminent, according to three recent
rulings here and in the European Court. The police have loads of other powers,
but they are not so easy to use if you are not actually doing anything wrong.
The ruling will make it more difficult for Wiltshire Police to apply for an
‘exclusion order’ at Solstice time, or to arrest or threaten small groups in the
area. They don’t seem to have yet decided if they will go for a ban this year.
English Heritage are still planning for limited ticket-only access. As the
actual Solstice time is unusually near the mid-point between sunrises on the
21st and 22nd, this may happen on both days with more than one access time,
perhaps including an afternoon ‘slot’ for those who used to go at that time.
What happens to the general public who turn up without tickets will presumably
depend on whether or not there is a ban in force. Last year the level of police
harassment went up to ensure the smooth running of the ticketed event. Its about
time we had an Inclusion Zone.
~~~~~ Dear Stonehengerites: ~~~~~
I was lefty in Glasty Winter Solstice:
’twas foggy so I didn’t wake the driver.
On telly male archeologists were saying
Avebury is female, and/but there was
a huge phallic Stone in the middle..
Their computer model was flash but wrong
because there never was a lintel over
the small Stone 11 entrance.
If the alleged road tunnel excavations
vibrations damage the Stones then
will they buy us a new one?
Will the Greenwich dome last as long?
(Meanwhile some noisy boyseys parked
in our track so we got complaints).
Eviction soon from Wells, wheretonext?
~ www.dicegeorge.com ~ 07970-378572 ~
PS converting my lightshow to 12volts.
I believe that we who walk with the Stones in our hearts should have access to
them at the times and dates that we need them, without cost, since we ARE the
ones who built them. Druids rule and moneygrubbers DROOL!!!!Peace.
Greetings, Fellow Hengephile!
I am a writer in Portland, Oregon USA with an avid interest in Stonehenge. In
the course of writing a fiction novel, I am seeking true stories (eye-witness
accounts) from people who have been at Stonehenge during a Summer Solstice. I
know that the sun rises over the Heel Stone, but I’d like more description
information on what this event is like. If you or someone you know could help me
out with my research, I would be very appreciative! (Any photos or videos would
be great as well!)
Lori Stephens Portland, Oregon. VerbPub@aol.com
At the moment I am writing an essay about access to Stonehenge which takes into
account all sides of the argument on to who, where and when access should be
allowed to Stonehenge. Your campaign lists as its aims both the reistatement of
the free festival and the protection of the site for future generations. How is
it possible to combine these two aims when the festival causes so much damage to
the surrounding landscape.
Could you please make your answer as detailed as you can bothered as I want
to put forward your arguements as forcefully as possible.
Yours sincerely James Hirst
an answer: The inclusion of the aim ‘to protect the Stonehenge landscape and
environment’ was a reaction to emerging plans for a motorway and large scale
visitor centre near the Stones some years ago. A landscape is a living, evolving
thing that cannot be frozen in one state forever. Natural processes and ‘normal’
use mean that eventually the man-made features will fade into their surroundings
unless artificially maintained by modern reconstructions. It is obviously
desirable with a special landscape such as this to minimise unnecessary wear,
but it is pointless to be concerned at one use without considering it in the
context of the overall effect of other uses.
The festival did cause some damage, but it was recognised by the last one that
it was to large to go on for as long as it did to be sustainable in that form,
and steps were taken internally to deal with that. Much of the ‘damage’ was from
shallow holes for campfires on a field that had already been deep ploughed.
Damage to the barrows consisted of slight wear on existing paths on the
reconstructed mounds left by the archaeologists who dug them up long ago. A
bread oven was made in one nearby, but not during the festival. Reports of
ring-barked trees, damage to ‘stone graves’ and even the monument itself were
all false: it was necessary for their to be an apparent reason for the
political decision to stop the festival. Perhaps the writer should carefully
check the sources that have given him the impression that there was "so much
damage"; he could be in for quite a surprise.
The sensitive areas marked off by fences were respected and undamaged. The
National Trust later chose to remove fences and allow cattle to seriously
trample the Cursus and a barrow. In the festival era they offered no public
access, leasing the landscape to farmers to use as they liked within broad
limits. One unsupervised English Heritage contractor probably did more damage in
one day than any festival. In the wider landscape farmers continue to plough and
modify sensitive areas, and the MoD build their own roads and drive tanks
However, although the ‘Festival Field’ could still be justifiably used as a
low-impact campsite in connection with Solstice celebrations in the Stones (most
likely its original use), a full-on festival would nowadays probably need to
find a nearby site where there is less concern.
Does the writer agree with the English Heritage argument that the digging of a
colossal trench across the landscape and destroying several ancient monuments to
insert a dual carriageway is, on balance, a good thing because of the benefits
There was an exhibition in Amesbury for two days in January on the Stonehenge
Master Plan (see last issue) and the Highways Agency road plans . The Agency
produced a brochure supposedly about the Stonehenge scheme but actually about
the Winterbourne Stoke bypass, the next part of the A303 to the West. The
proposed cut-and-cover tunnel was shown on the map, but the questionnaire
included referred only to the Winterbourne Stoke Area. This ‘public
consultation’ exercise closed at the end of February without the main part of
the scheme, the controversial tunnel, being aired at all. However English
Heritage say they would still like to hear peoples’ views on the tunnel and the
Masterplan, which is not yet finalised. You can write to EH at: Abbey Square,
The young man
With a red scarf
In his heart
He was arrested
But the revolution
Fell on deaf ears
It remained bottled
In his heart
Waiting for someone
To draw the cork
He waited and waited
But the anger
Turned to arrogance
And the idealist
Became the cynic
my wife and I try to make a point to visit the pertinent festival sites in the
UK as often as possible. would love to get involved in as much as possible - how
can we help free the stones? the more info the better as we here in the states
are not so often recipients of timely info in this regard
ARTIST: Ray Elf is looking to work in zines, posters & album covers. Phone 01309
641219 or write to Ray Elf, 8 Darklass Place, Dyke, nr Forres, Morayshire, IV34
Campaign Website at http://www.phreak.co.uk/stonehenge/psb/stonecam.htm
email the Campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org
Any words, pictures, ideas etc about or inspired by John please to John
Pendragon Project, BCM 2002, London WC1N 3XX
(see www.dicenews.com )
For henge or eclipse poster, SAE + 2 stamps to EFFIN, c/o 87 Debden, Gloucester
Rd, London, N17 6LN.
Send us an sae for the next newsletter. (Summer Solstice)
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This is the end of the Stonehenge Campaign's
1999 Spring Equinox Newsletter webpage
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