|31 May 2000
Stonehenge open for the solstice
Stonehenge will be open to the public for the summer solstice for the first time in nearly ten years, English Heritage said. After a decade of violence in the 1980s, bans in the 1990s and trouble last summer when 400 protesters tore down the perimeter fence, it will be open to anyone who wants to stay up all night on June 20.
Access will be "managed" by security guards working for English Heritage, with police on standby. Dogs, campfires and loud music will not be permitted, although guards may turn a blind eye to discreet sex and pagan rituals.
English Heritage, which manages the site, said: "This is not an invitation to a party, it is supposed to be an opportunity for contemplation. There will be managed access for anyone who wants to turn up." She denied that English Heritage had been forced to allow open access because of last year's debacle, when an organised visit for 150 people, including Druids and other pagan groups, was disrupted by gatecrashers.
Wiltshire Police, which for the previous nine years had imposed a four-mile "exclusion zone" for the solstice, was forced to drop it last year after a ruling by the House of Lords. The gates will be opened at 11.30pm but visitors will have to wait until 4.44am to see the sun rise over the Heel Stone.
Source: The Sunday Times (12 May 2000)
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