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'Like targeting a cathedral': Britain's 'top druid' condemns Just Stop Oil's 'completely dismaying' Stonehenge attack

20 June 2024, 10:46 | Updated: 20 June 2024, 10:51

Arthur Pendragon has condemned the attack on Stonehenge
Arthur Pendragon has condemned the attack on Stonehenge. Picture: Alamy/Just Stop Oil

By Kit Heren

A prominent British druid has said he was "completely dismayed" by Just Stop Oil targeting Stonehenge, likening the incident to attacking a cathedral.

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King Arthur Pendragon said Wednesday's incident, in which eco-activists sprayed orange powder over the 5,000-year-old monoliths, was "stupid".

"They've shot themselves in the foot," he told LBC, adding: "All they’re doing is alienating people."

The stunt took place just a day before pagans from across the world gather at Stonehenge for the summer solstice, a holy day for people of that religion.

The protesters sprayed at least two of the giant stone monoliths with containers of a substance described as orange powder paint.

Just Stop Oil spray substance over Stonehenge

Just Stop Oil said it wants "the incoming UK government commit to working with other governments to agree an equitable plan to end the extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal by 2030."

Wiltshire police said two people had been arrested. “Our enquiries are ongoing and we are working closely with English Heritage,” the force added.

"They're not doing themselves a favour - they've shot themselves in the foot," Mr Pendragon said.

"All times of year Stonehenge is special for people, but to target it now... for us it is more akin to a cathedral, especially at a holy time of year."

He said that he was "well known as a protester", adding: " I’m the people who should be supporting them but, like I say, all they’re doing is alienating people."

Arthur Pendragon
Arthur Pendragon. Picture: Alamy

The solstice festival will still go ahead, and protesters are heading to the site. Mr Pendragon said he would be leading ceremonies there overnight.

Adrian Rooke, a spokesperson for the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, said that "we don't condone any act of desecration".

"Basically we do obviously share similar ideals about global warming," he said.

"But certainly it was an unthought out, very silly action that thankfully has limited consequences."

Arthur Pendragon
Arthur Pendragon. Picture: Alamy

Mr Rooke said: "We understand the need to bring back climate issues into the mainstream, but they need to be very careful with some of the random protests they do. There has to be a political solution."

Niamh Lynch, 21, a student from Oxford who was one of the Stonehenge protesters, said: “Stonehenge at solstice is all about celebrating the natural world – but look at the state it’s in!

"We all have a right to live a life free from suffering, but continued burning of oil, coal and gas is leading to death and suffering on an unparalleled scale.“It’s time for us to think about what our civilisation will leave behind – what is our legacy?

"Standing inert for generations works well for stones – not climate policy."

Arthur Pendragon
Arthur Pendragon. Picture: Alamy

English Heritage describes Stonehenge as perhaps the world's most famous prehistoric monument.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage described the spraying of paint at the Stonehenge stones as "extremely upsetting".

She said: "Orange powdered paint has been thrown at a number of the stones at Stonehenge.

"Obviously, this is extremely upsetting and our curators are investigating the extent of the damage. Stonehenge remains open to the public."

The group sprayed two of the Stonehenge monoliths with orange paint
The group sprayed two of the Stonehenge monoliths with orange paint. Picture: Just Stop Oil

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer both condemned the vandalism.

Labour leader Sir Keir said: "The damage done to Stonehenge is outrageous. Just Stop Oil are pathetic. Those responsible must face the full force of the law."

The PM said: "This is a disgraceful act of vandalism to one of the UK’s and the world’s oldest and most important monuments.”

It came before Just Stop Oil activists also spray painted private jets at Stansted on Thursday morning.

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