Moment hero tourists grab Just Stop Oil spraying paint on Stonehenge, as activists 'damage rare lichen'

19 June 2024, 15:31

The tourists trying to stop Stonehenge being vandalised
The tourists trying to stop Stonehenge being vandalised. Picture: Just Stop Oil

By Kit Heren

This is the moment heroic tourists stepped in to grab Just Stop Oil activists who were vandalising Stonehenge.

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The eco-activists sprayed at least two of the giant, ancient stone monoliths with containers of a substance described as orange powder paint the day before the UK’s summer solstice.

As they vandalised Stonehenge, the two visitors could be seen coming across and trying to pull the activists away. Police said two people had been arrested.

English Heritage, which is responsible for Stonehenge, said the vandalism was "extremely upsetting".

They added: "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. More updates to follow but the site remains open."

Just Stop Oil said that the paint was powder based and would wash off. But a Stonehenge-focused blog said that there were "multiple rare lichen species growing on the stones" that may have been damaged by the paint.

Read more: Eco activists Just Stop Oil desecrate Stonehenge with orange spray in latest radical climate protest

Read more: Thousands gather to celebrate summer solstice at Stonehenge as UK to get 16 hours of sunlight

Eco-protest group appears to vandalise Stone Henge with orange paint ahead of Summer Solstice

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."

A spokesperson said: “The UK’s government in waiting has committed to enacting Just Stop Oil’s original demand of ‘no new oil and gas’.

"However, we all know this is not enough. Continuing to burn coal, oil and gas will result in the death of millions.

"We have to come together to defend humanity or we risk everything. That’s why Just Stop Oil is demanding that our next government sign up to a legally binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels 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.

Explaining why they chose to target Stonehenge, the group said: "Stone circles can be found in every part of Europe showing how we’ve always cooperated across vast distances – we’re building on that legacy.”

Protester Niamh Lynch, 21, a student from Oxford, 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.”Summer solstice is celebrated by thousands of pagans across the world."

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

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

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer have 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 was built in several stages, with the first an early henge monument erected about 5,000 years ago.

The stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period, about 2,500 BC. Burial mounds were built nearby in the early Bronze Age.

Stonehenge, together with Avebury, forms the heart of a World Heritage Site.

Many gather at Stonehenge for the summer solstice as it is believed to have been an important religious site thousands of years ago.

On the summer solstice, the central Altar stone at Stonehenge aligns with the Heel stone, the Slaughter stone and the rising Sun to the north east.

Hundreds of people gather there each year to celebrate the solstice.

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