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To: "SchNEWS Subscribers"
Date: Sat, 11 Jul 1998 11:46:19 +0000
Subject: SchNEWS 172/173, 24 June 1998


"They are turning an important historic and spiritual site into a theme park for tourists, a playground for the rich." - Matt, traveller, Brighton

English Heritage's opening of Stonehenge on summer solstice, to a limited number of people, has been branded a "stage managed stunt" by people campaigning to bring back free access to the Stones. Two busloads of invited guests were driven from Salisbury to witness the sunrise at the Stones, but the reality for people without a ticket was that the four mile exclusion zone remained as usual.

Many groups are opposed to the issuing of tickets to a limited number of people. A spokesperson for the Stonehenge Campaign said, "Tickets will never be acceptable to 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."

Ever since 1986 the exclusion zone has been in force to stop the Stonehenge Free Festival from taking place. This year around five hundred cops kept watch but still 40 people managed to into get the field opposite the Hillstone, before they were chased out. Meanwhile King Arthur Pendragon was arrested with 12 other people under the "trespassory assembly" sections of the Criminal Justice Act.

The Stonehenge People's Free Festival began life in 1974 and grew and grew until in 1985 the powers-that-be decided enough was enough. That year a large convoy of travellers vehicles on their way to the Festival were blocked by the police. Trapped, they swung their vehicles into a field, crashing through a hedge. What happened next has gone down in traveller folklore as The Battle of the Beanfield. The police, out of control, started attacking people and vehicles. By the end 420 people had been arrested. and their homes had been systematically looted, smashed and burnt. One ITN reporter described the scene. "All of us [journalists] were shocked by what we saw: police tactics which seemed to break new grounds in the scale and the intensity of its violence. We saw police throw hammers, stones and other missiles through the windscreens of advancing vehicles; a woman dragged away by her hair; young men beaten over the head with truncheons as they tried to surrender; police using sledgehammers to smash up the interiors of the hippies' coaches."

The Battle of the Beanfield was the beginning of the clampdown for the free festival/traveller scene culminating in the draconian Criminal Justice Act.

The next year a four mile exclusion zone was placed round the stones for a five day period during the summer solstice - and will continue to be every year until it is challenged.

Stonehenge Campaign Newsletter: Quarterly update, comprehensive contacts listing inc all the Free Information Network (FINS). Send SAE+donation to c/o 99 Torriano Avenue London NW5 2RX.

Operation Solstice: Documentary on the Battle of the Beanfield, P.O. Box 10834, 44 Tottenham Lane, London, N8 OAW #10 + SAE

The Last of the Hippies: Booklet about Wally Hope, one of the main people who got the Stonehenge Festival going - and met with a very suspicious ending #1 + SAE from DS4A, Box 8, 82 Colston St., Bristol, BS1 5BB.

*** Stonehenge was given to the nation by Cecil Chubb in 1918. In his will he specified that no more than 1 shilling be charged for people wanting access to the stones (It's #3.60 now) and that no building be erected near the Stones (so they built a car-park).

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