NEW YORK -- A rampage by some 400 people who toppled the fence
around Stonehenge and illegally entered the stone circle ruined
summer solstice ceremonies at the ancient site and might lead to
more restricted access for visitors, officials in London said.
The group, known in Britain as "New Age travelers," stormed the
circle just before dawn on June 21, drawing police in riot gear to
the bucolic hillside that is home to the 3,500-year-old standing
stones, located about an hour's drive from London.
The mob prevented groups of druids and pagans, who had
permission to enter the circle to welcome the dawn of the longest
day of the year, from carrying out solstice ceremonies, said a
spokeswoman for English Heritage, the government agency responsible
This was the first solstice in a decade that police did not
impose a four-mile-radius no-access zone around the stones, and
officials said the violent action by the group was likely to prompt
the reinstatement of the no-access policy for future solstices.
About 1,000 people had gathered within the zone to watch the
dawn, reports estimated. The spokeswoman said that, following the
riot, Stonehenge was closed for one day while the fence was
repaired and the area was cleaned of debris.
"Several hundred people, who I can only describe as
trouble-makers and rabble, tore down the fence and occupied the
circle for a couple of hours, climbing on the stones, and yelling
and throwing things at police. They had no real interest in
Stonehenge," she said, adding that there was no damage to the
Officials said two police officers were injured and 23 people
were arrested in the melee. Other groups that had obtained
permission to access the stone circle in the days following the
solstice were allowed in as scheduled. Stonehenge was reopened to
the public on June 23.