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As the old saying goes “Where there’s muck, there’s Brass”, but in this case, the Brass is Bronze – or at least a bronze age roundhouse.

The discovery of stones that are thought to date back to the Bronze Age have halted a multi-million pound sewage treatment project in Cornwall.

Whilst such sites are relatively common in Cornwall, each site investigated adds a little more knowledge about the daily lives of our predecessors, which can only be a good thing for the communal knowledge base.

More information can be found on the BBC website.

Prior to the event we thought it best to say little about the announced up-tick in the degree of policing and the accompanying slightly confrontational dialogue coming from the police themselves as we thought there was an obvious danger that it might inflame things and we had no wish to be accused of having contributed to a problem.

In the event, all went pretty well according to most accounts. Was this because of the increased police activity and announcements – or despite of  them? The latter, we suspect.

Certainly there were some downsides – the Daily Mirror ran the headline Pagans Litter Stonehenge with obvious relish but didn’t mention that English Heritage’s spokesman had gone out of his way to point out that the area of the stones had been left immaculate and that they would be able to tidy up elsewhere in a few hours (courtesy of pagan stewards we believe).

It is certainly obvious that such gatherings do need approaching carefully to avoid an echo of the bad old days and we would have thought that the police, of all people, would realise that – particularly so soon after what happened at the G20 demonstrations.

Whether well intentioned or not, police actions were seen as provocative by some – see this, from the Indymedia UK website:

“Anyone who went to Stonehenge for the summer solstice 2009 would have noticed that the crowd has changed from previous years. Sure, there’s still a massive hippie contingent and plenty of druids and shamanic types there for the ritual and the energy buzz, and this year considerably more ‘normal’ sorts; middle class families and large crews of inner city kids just out for a good party. But aside from these peaceful masses a smaller core of bad apples turned up in their high-viz and their riot vans to make everyone feel uncomfortable. For the first time since the Battle of the Beanfield, the police presence at Stonehenge was enormous.”

“They were everywhere, in your eyes and up your nose and as irritant as hayfever. Hundreds of coppers in total; at the entrance to the stones, the exit from the car park and patrolling all over the site supported by considerable numbers of private security contractors with stab vests, handcuffs and sniffer dogs at the entrance to the stones. I saw two police horses, and big canvas adverts warning about drugs tests and sniffer dogs and encouraging people to deposit drugs anonymously in red ‘Amnesty Bags’ rather than run the gauntlet. Even more sinister, I spotted a Wiltshire Police evidence gatherer team (two guys) filming around the stones just after dawn but didn’t have my camera and was a little too wasted to intervene. There was also a UAV Hicam Microdrone – a small remote controlled camera thing with rotor blades flitting around the stones all night, filming the crowd from above. To cap it all off, a police helicopter buzzed the car park at low altitude for about an hour from around 10.00 in the morning, presumably to keep people awake after a heavy night of partying so they could fall asleep at the wheel on the long drive home.”

Worse and ominous are some of the comments that some people have left after that article. “Itching for a fight and willing to indulge in very nasty tactics” sums some of them up.

It seems to us that Solstice 2009 could easily have gone very wrong and unless the police realise that – and why – then there is an obvious risk that Solstice 2010 will go wrong and it will not be real pagans that are to blame but others – on both sides.


June 2009

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