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It’s not often we’re in agreement with English Heritage over their actions at Stonehenge but on one recent occasion we have every sympathy for them. They are being derided for pulling the feed of last month’s summer solstice on allegedly “spurious” safety grounds. Could it be though that they were citing safety grounds to be tactful?

A thousand people had defied Covid regulations and turned up at the site. A hundred of them then climbed the fence, entered the circle and stood or sat on the stones, all in defiance of the site regulations. Meanwhile, many thousands of people all over the world were waiting patiently online to see the sunrise. English Heritage said they were “disappointed”. Not many people would disagree if they had said “disgusted”.

But English Heritage were left in a quandary. Maybe they pulled the feed for security reasons but we also suspect they felt an important moment shouldn’t be viewed all over the world with a bunch of childish, look-at-me rule-breakers cavorting in the foreground and background. After all, that’s what they were all there for, to be seen, and the more they are seen the more they may break the rules in future. For some people, “look at me” is a powerful incentive and “look at me in a place I shouldn’t be, dressed in a funny costume, being a pagan-for-the-day” is even more powerful.

In the event it was cloudy. But at least those people were deprived of their “right” to be seen cavorting on “their” stones, trying to upstage the solar spectacle and ruining the experience of it for thousands of other people, so the right decision was probably taken.


July 2021

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