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It might seem far too early to mention this but it’s a fair bet all the available places will be snapped up very quickly. There is to be an evening walk to Stonehenge led by David Dawson, Director of the Wiltshire Heritage Museum, on 8th June 2011 and a second one on 13th July.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to inspect (but no touching) and photograph (for non-commercial purposes) the stones closely, and see the inscriptions, including the famous ‘daggers’ believed to date from prehistoric times. Wander at will inside the circle and enjoy the landscape. “
But we were rather struck by this request on the Museum’s website:
“Note – please do not touch or climb on the stones, picnic or play music whilst in the monument”
…since halfway between 8th June and 13th July comes the summer solstice when, as everyone knows, a large number of people have been allowed to ignore all four of those matters year after year. So we have a couple of dozen ultra-respectful paying customers acting one way, thousands of non-paying revellers acting in the opposite way then back to paying ones acting in the first way, all in the space of five weeks! BOTH sets of behaviour can’t be right, surely?
It’s very confusing. Which IS the right way to act at the stones? Or, much more pertinently, which way should those who are in charge of an event at the stones ensure people act? Is the strict version just something the Wiltshire Heritage Museum has formulated? Or was it imposed on them by English Heritage as a condition of them being allowed to take people there? And what would happen if a percentage of the Museum’s customers defied the Museum’s rules and climbed on the stones on 8th June? Would EH give them one more chance and tell them that if they failed to control all their paying customers and protect the monument a second time on 13th July they shouldn’t come back next year? Or would they accept an excuse from the Museum, year after year after year, “we do always ask people to behave, honest, but it’s definitely not our fault if they don’t....“