Lugodoc's Recollection of
The Twentyfirst Century
On the night of June 20th, AD 2000,
Stonehenge was at last opened to the public for the Summer solstice.
Druids, wiccans, assorted pagans, travellers, old hippies and even some
normal people gathered in the weird blue actinic glare of the
floodlights kindly supplied by the nearby army base at Larkhill
Barracks. Lugodoc (that's me on the left - my robes are under my
waterproof) was there with his friends including Daibh Green, Dylan Ap
Thuin and IOD, King
Arthur and about ten thousand revellers.
About twenty druids walked there from Woodhenge, across fields
and along tracks, led by George Firsoff of PADRAS. I was a
with my own small group of friends, and in the darkness we actually got
lost, ending up in the middle of Larkhill Army Barracks. I
suffered the possibly unique humiliation of having to approach a
pissed-up squaddy in a chip-shop whilst dressed in full druid drag, and
ask for the way to Stonehenge. He was very helpful.
Nobody knew how it
was going to go. Even after fifteen years there were
still a lot of people with very hard feelings after the violence of The
Battle Of The Beanfield, and scores to settle against the police, and
the possibility of it all kicking off was very real. Many of the
organisers on the druid side (including me) suspected that the
authorities wanted a fight to start, so that they could justify closing
it for another couple of decades.
public were allowed in at ten o'clock and after passing through a
police corridor entered the area under a staff arch held aloft by King
Rollo Maughling. Although some set up small camps on the grass
the stones, most headed straight for the circle. Soon the centre of the
stones was densely packed with drummers, didgeridoo players,
other musicians, so much so that it was difficult to move elbows. They
struck up a powerful hypnotic beat and kept it
going all night, from the hour they were allowed into the stones until
the following day when police cleared the area at noon. Outside of that
intense percussive core the human density gradually diminished as the
psychic gravity became weaker, and within the remains of the outer
ditch and bank movement was quite easy.
An hour before dawn The King's Drummers began a slow
processional march around the stones, returning to the Hele Stone in
time for the sunrise.
There was police security. There was private security paid for
English Heritage. There were Peace Stewards organised by
George Firsoff of The Stonehenge Peace Process
(including Daibh Green and myself - that's my old badge on the left).
It poured down with rain nearly all night. In the
morning the sun didn't even rise because the sky was completely
overcast. But it was peaceful and it was a success, and it was a great
way to start the 21st century.
This picture was taken at Stonehenge in 2000 by Tom Pilston,
and just about sums it up.
All other photos on this page (unless credited) are by Lugodoc.
The soaking wet throng
The Insular Order Of Druids held a dawn ritual just outside the
stones. There were many druid orders and pagan groups doing the same
thing that morning, but only ours got onto a front page (The
as we were conducting our ritual a naked man ran out of the crowd and
stood in the middle of our circle. He was nothing to do with us and he
was only there for a few seconds,
but it was long enough for a press photographer to get a picture of his
bum. And bums sell papers.
And this, gentle reader, is that
The main fear of English Heritage, the police and the government was
that after the sun rose, nobody would go home, and the event would turn
into one of the huge, anarchic free festivals of the seventies. This
did not happen, possibly the result of the vile weather, and by noon
the huge crowd had good-naturedly gone home.
thing did strike me as curious. The druids made their ritual circles
outside the stones on the grassy area because the centre was densely
packed with musicians. That day on the midday national news a
television report showed a druid circle performing a ritual, but
claimed that they had been in the centre of Stonehenge. The brief clip
was framed so tightly that you could not see that the druids were not
inside Stonehenge at all, but on the grass just outside. The news
report then showed a brief clip of the drummers, which I recognised as
being some of the people at the very centre of Stonehenge all night,
but claimed that they were ravers who had set themselves up several
miles away at another event in competition with Stonehenge. Once again,
the clip was very short and framed too tightly to reveal that these
drummers were, in fact, right in the centre of the stones.
It is not often that this author actually experiences the events he
later sees on the news, and this time they just got it completely and
The following pictures were all taken by this author (except where
In 2003 I spent
the solstice at Avebury for
Lugodoc at Stonehenge 2004
Since 2000 Stonehenge has been open to the public at every Summer
and this author has noticed a few changes over the last five years.
Lugodoc has noticed less druids, pagans and travellers each year, and
more ordinary public. In 2004 I
only saw two other
druids in robes (George Firsoff and King Arthur) out of about thirty
thousand people, and not many other
Some neo-druids lament this fact, but I think its OK. Stonehenge now
inhabits the normal, secular mainstream British (and even
international) consciousness as The Place To Be at the Summer
Solstice. And it still gets better every year.
In 2005 I was
lucky enough to
hang out briefly with a timelord (the same one that met Verity Lambert
in 1962 and gave her the idea for Dr Who).
at Stonehenge 2005 B.C.
Meanwhile, four thousand years later in the twentyfirst century...
Daibh at Stonehenge 2006
Police surveillance drone
(photo taken by this author)
The police presence at Stonehenge had been getting less
intrusive every year since 2000 and was truly minimal in 2008, but that
all changed in 2009. It seems that the new Chief Constable of
Wiltshire, Mr Brian Moore, was unhappy about the trouble-free
previous years and had decided that in 2009 he wanted more arrests in
order to "send a
message", so this year there were hundreds of police with horses,
sniffer dogs and even a remote piloted aerial surveillance drone.
Midsummer Eve fell on a Saturday night for the first time since 2003
(when this author was at Avebury) and consequently the stones were
heaving. An estimated 35,000 revellers arrived in three continuous
streams from North, East and South between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. and the
crowd was the densest this author remembers. About 31,000 were there
last year prompting 12 arrests for minor offences, mainly drugs. This
year there were 37 arrests and the costs of the police operation have
not been made public.
After all that Chief
Constable Moore never
actually said what the message was, but it sounded like "I have been
given money to burn".
Since 2000 this author has been at Stonehenge
nine times and only witnessed one actual
sunrise (the blissful 2005), and this year was typical. The horizon was
obscured by low clouds and the sun did not begin to peep through them
until an hour after dawn. This perennial lack of an actual sunrise has
caused Lugodoc to ponder on one of the many the mysteries of
Stonehenge. The five
trilithons and the Hele stone are definitely alligned with the
Midsummer sunrise, but because of the mechanics of astronomy they are therefore
also just as precisely alligned with the
Midwinter sunset, thus raising the question - were the stones errected
for use at Midsummer, Midwinter, or both?
Unless the Midsummer weather on Salisbury Plain has deteriorated in
five thousand years (and it probably hasn't) then I don't think people
congregated there to watch the sun rise because
it doesn't! 9 times out of 10 you see nothing!
I don't know what the Midwinter sunset looks like most years
because Lugodoc has never been at the stones for Midwinter
because it's too bloody cold.
The latest archeological excavations made in 2008 and 2009 around
Stonehenge and Durrington suggest it was constructed for funerary
purposes, and most cultures perform funerary rituals at Midwinter for
metaphysical reasons, so Lugodoc is now leaning towards the Midwinter hypothesis. But I'm still
going there at Midsummer when its bearable.
Yet again not a perfect sunrise like 2005, but the sun rose above low
cloud only a few minutes late and then the day was glorious. Those
first rays were captured by professional photographer Duncan Knifton, a friend of Lugodoc
on his first pilgrimmage to the stones. He works from The Mobile Portrait Studio (019 8352
8573 - Gunville Road, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 5LB)
© Duncan Knifton 2010
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