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6 March 2004
Druid community calls for a new shrine at Stonehenge

Druid leaders called for the creation of a sacred site at Stonehenge for the re-burial of human remains unearthed during a unique road project in the area.  They want a parcel of land near the site to be set aside as a ceremonial shrine for the Pagan and Druid communities. They also hope to carry out important rituals at key stages of the proposed Stonehenge Tunnel construction, such as the first ground breaking "to ease ancestral spirits".
     The Druid Network told a public inquiry they were in favour of Stonehenge being returned to its natural setting without nearby roads and visitor centre. But they are concerned about various aspects of the proposed project. Giving evidence for the network, Emma Restall Orr said "A major concern is the potential lack of respect given to our ancestors and their physical remains." Such problems could be diverted if "the sanctity of the temple" was acknowledged and respected throughout the work.
     Ms Restall Orr said the Druids wanted to carry out their rituals at important stages of the three-year construction programme. These include the first sod-cutting and when the work nears sensitive sites such as Longbarrow Crossroads, the Avenue and the Heel Stone. Rituals were also required at times of significant archaeological finds during tunnelling at the heritage site, especially the uncovering of human remains.
     She said: "Of particular concern are human remains. We seek assurances that any Pagan human remains found during the work are treated with appropriate respect. While we do not wish to stop the archaeologists from gaining knowledge, removing human remains to store in museums is no longer acceptable within international Pagan communities.All human remains must be reburied with the appropriate Pagan ritual as close to the site of discovery as possible, together with their grave goods - or appropriate facsimiles." We would support the setting aside of a piece of land within the World Heritage Site that could act as a ceremonial funerary shrine for the Pagan and Druid communities. This could be used not only for the reburial of the ancient dead, but also as a place of honouring the dead within many modern spiritual communities."

Source: This is Bristol, Western Daily Press (2 March 2004)

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