On a recent trip to watch the sun rise from behind the spectacular structure of Stonehenge, I was lucky enough to meet Druid couple Kim and Andrea (right). It was a couple of days before the Easter Solstice, and the pair were preparing to protest against the lack of free access to what they see as a place of worship.
Normally, the stones are only open during the visiting hours dictated by the National Trust. Visitors need to buy a ticket to get anywhere near the site; a ticket that forces them to walk the wrong way around the stones – anticlockwise. According to Kim, this is not only bad for Stonehenge, but bad for England. He points to the many ills of today’s society in England as evidence of this. There is certainly a lot of evidence to choose from!
Full access to the stones is only granted at the Summer Solstice, which this year falls on the 21st June. On this date, druids and like-minded revellers are allowed to party like it’s 1999 (BC) right inside the stones themselves, with a full-on party leading up to what must be a spectacular experience of watching the the sun rise in perfect alignment with the Heelstone, from within the stone circle.
If only every day – or at least every solstice – were the same.
Kim and Andrea had managed to get to Stonehenge early and pick out a prime site to park their campervan, and expected to be joined by many more druids in time for the Easter Solstice protest. The single-track road on the western side of the site offered a good, if distant, view of the Stonehenge sunrise.
It wasn’t until later, while I was walking the wrong way around the stones with my National Heritage audioguide, that I caught a glimpse of their campervan on the other side of the electric fence and realised just how fenced off they must have felt.
With plans now in place to close off the A344 / A303, access to the site will be even more restricted. Where will the regular protesters park up? Kim and his fellow protesters have been known to make a mad naked run at the stones from the road where we met him. Let’s hope that they don’t have to run too far next time. It can be pretty cold on those Salisbury Plains.
Check some great stonehenge photos on our Heritage Key Flickr Pool .