Conservationists call for closing Stonehenge to prevent damage

Posted Mar 10, 2015 by Sravanth Verma
Conservationists have called for the closing of Stonehenge, the popular tourist attraction and monument that is several thousand years old, on the Summer and Winter solstice due to the damage caused by visitors on these days.
The mysterious circle of standing stones at Stonehenge is one of the most iconic ancient sites in Eu...
The mysterious circle of standing stones at Stonehenge is one of the most iconic ancient sites in Europe
Leon Neal, AFP
A report reveals how during Winter Solstice celebrations at the site in December last year, chewing gum was stuck onto the ancient monument, graffiti was sprayed on the ancient stones, attempts were made to light fires on them, and lines of oil were dripped on several stones.
Things were much worse during the Summer Solstice in June, when volunteers and staff were "left in tears" and had to clean up vomit and feces. The "appalling stench" and the "urine, vomit and feces" were left around the stones after 37,000 revelers descended on the site to watch the sunrise.
Winter Solstice numbers were much smaller, and amounted to around 1,500, though the damage done to the stones was still considerable. A spokesperson of the English Heritage conservation group said of the oil, "It's still there and it's not degrading. This is an additional concern as there is still graffiti on the stones from the summer solstice."
Solstice revelries were banned between 1985 and 2000, when they were finally opened up after a long legal battle by King Arthur Pendragon, a self-professed "pagan leader." Pendragon said pagans were also unhappy about the vandalism. However, he states that the Heritage Journal are calling attention to this because they wish to halt future solstice events. "Heritage Journal have been doing that since they were formed in the first place. Basically they're just a number of archaeologists who don't want 'the great unwashed', as they see it, anywhere near Stonehenge. Obviously, we abhor the vandalism. We always keep an eye out for these sorts of things. From my point of view, as a druid and a pagan priest, it's not on."
Solstice events are marked by various denominations and faiths around the world. However, a spokesperson of the Heritage Journal remarked, "The latest research suggests the stones were designed to allow people to view the summer solstice sunset from outside the circle, not crowded inside it."
Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage Monument, is the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earthworks, built between 3000 BC and 2000 BC.