Wiltshire

Call for Stonehenge access ban 'elitism', says druid

Crowds gather at dawn amongst the stones at Stonehenge Image copyright PA
Image caption Heritage Journal conservationists want people prevented from getting too close to the ancient stones

A call to stop revellers from getting close to Stonehenge during solstice celebrations is "elitism", a senior druid has said.

The Heritage Journal said restrictions should be made after the monument was vandalised during the winter solstice.

But King Arthur Pendragon said: "It is a living, working temple; you can't wrap it up in cotton wool and say you can no longer go there."

He also rejected the group's claim that vandalism was a recurring problem.

'Sledgehammer'

In December, some 1,500 revellers gathered at the ancient landmark to watch the sunrise and mark the winter solstice.

The damage caused included graffiti and chewing gum left on the stones.

King Arthur Pendragon said: "I think it's a sledgehammer to crack a nut, really.

"Obviously we are against the vandalism, but we are also against what we see as organised vandalism like digging up bodies and taking them away.

"That's as much a desecration of our temple as people putting graffiti on the stones."

In 2008, the cremated remains of more than 40 bodies were removed from the site and some were put in display at the new £27m visitor centre.

The druid led a campaign against the exhumation and the bones being displayed.

He added: "It's elitism, they believe that it is a very special place, we believe it is a very special place - but we believe it's a very special place to worship and to honour what it was built for, which was the longest and shortest day.

"They want to wrap it up in cotton wool, keep everybody away from it and make money out of it."

English Heritage has previously said damage to Stonehenge is "not characteristic of solstice celebrations".

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites