Stonehenge Summer Solstice
Still no free access to Stonehenge over the summer solstice this year, despite the lifting of the police exclusion zone
21st June 1999
Around 200 people clashed with police at Stonehenge after being exluded from the invite-only summer solstice ceremony on June 21st.
Frustrated at having to watch proceedings from behind barbed wire fences and lines of police, a group of 200 broke away from a thousand-strong crowd assembled on Salisbury Plain. Wiltshire Police with riot gear, horses and dogs steamed in an attempt to prevent the group from reaching the 5000 year-old monument. Twenty three people were arreested after a section of the barbed-wire perimeter fence was torn down around 2am. Twenty of these were detained for aggravated trespass (Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994), two for an alleged assault on police and one for a drugs offence. English Heritage, who own the site, had sent out 150 executive invites to druids, astrologers and councillors allowing them access to the stone circle for an 'official' solstice ceremony. The ceremony was abandoned following the disturbances.
A High Court decision delivered earlier this year upheld people's right to demonstrate peacefully on the by-ways next to Stonehenge. In the light of this decidion Wiltshire Police did not apply for the four mile exclusion zone for the first time since 1985, the year of the infamous Battle of the Beanfield. However they were still intent on keeping those not invited out of the stone-circle itself. Wiltshire Police spokeswoman, Elizabeth Marginson, opined: "There are still people at the stones who have no right to be there."
Assemblies Of Celebration, Assemblies Of Dissent - An overview of recent decades of festivals, raves, travellers and protesters. 1998.
Wally Hope - A Victim Of Ignorance - Neil Goodwin tells the story of the life and death of one of the founders of the Stonehenge Free Festival. Squall 11 - Autumn 1995.