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free access to info

It’s no secret we think the Stonehenge solstices celebrations are too crowded so are often damaging and disrespectful and that English Heritage should take a firmer line.  So we wrote to their Stonehenge General Manager saying “May we please be copied in with the minutes of the recent and future Round Table meeting so that we can publish them on the Heritage Journal?” Our thinking was that if they send these minutes to the website of campaigners for Free Access, which they do, it’s only reasonable that they should also send them to us so we can pass them on to our many thousands of followers who are equally deserving stakeholders. Unfortunately we haven’t had a reply whereas in stark contrast EH has just supplied “Solstice debrief notes” to the Facebook page of the Open Access to Stonehenge Campaign.

In all the circumstances we feel justified in calling upon EH to share information with everyone, not just a limited group. In addition we’d like them to be more open and sharing about the following points we picked up from their de-brief:

“3 fractures ……. 1 taken to hospital with a suspected fractured leg”

Eh? How did that happen? Is it indicative of a well-run event? Did the broken leg involve someone standing on and falling off a stone? Isn’t that an important matter that ought to be included in the debrief? Isn’t the general public entitled to be fully informed?

white horse accident

“Curator pleased to report that there was no serious damage to the stones, just needed time to recover from all the visitors”

What does that mean? It’s a puzzle. Why do the stones need to “recover”? Isn’t the public owed a clearer account of exactly what happened to the stones that makes it necessary for them to “recover” (bearing in mind nearly every previous year for a decade the stones have been damaged).

“All acknowledged that litter wasn’t a problem this year”

We beg to differ. It is true, is it not, that there were loads and loads of litter dropped and the only difference was that a team of people picked it up? To us, the fact it was picked up doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or that thousands of people weren’t treating the monument with utter disrespect. We don’t think English Heritage should go along with pretending “litter wasn’t a problem”. On the contrary, it was a disgrace that doesn’t happen on other days of the year and shouldn’t be allowed on just one.

“A member expressed concern that there were marquee spikes on the first catering unit. EH assured the member that the Curator had confirmed this was not in an area of archaeological interest.”

Really? By what measure does EH judge areas are not of archaeological interest and can have spikes driven into them? Will they issue a map of such places?


Someone climbed on top of the Hele stone. How come these Notes from the Debrief meeting contain no mention of it? “


Hundreds of people stood on the prostrate stones, yet again, which is disrespectful and illegal. How come the Notes from the Debrief meeting contain no mention of it?

Oooh look, people watching Manhattanhenge recently. The Mayor of New York didn't feel it necessary to issue a statement saying behaviour was good because, well, it always is, naturally....!

Oooh look, people watching Manhattanhenge recently. The Mayor of New York didn’t feel it necessary to issue an inaccurate  statement saying everyone’s behaviour was good because, well, it always is, naturally, why wouldn’t it be?!


July 2015

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