Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Free Access to Stonehenge

I've been interested in asking about the grounds for free access to Stonehenge for religious purposes for a while and so thought I'd drop English Heritage a line, here is what I wrote to them in January 2013:

Dear Sir/Madam,

As you are probably aware, sites such as St Paul's Cathedral who usually charge tourists for visits allow free access for worshipers.

As someone who harbours pagan beliefs, I would like to ask English Heritage if free access to Stonehenge was granted under Article 9 of the charter of Human Rights which allows the right to religious freedom.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing a response from you.

A week or so later I have received this reply from the Stonehenge office explaining how they do not allow free access for religious purposes but that they offer the site to the pagan community at key dates throughout the year.

Here is the reply:

Dear Mr Rose,

Thank you for you email to Customer Services dated 20th January 2013, which has been forwarded onto me.

You refer in your email to the Human Rights Act 1998, article 9; The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

English Heritage general policy is to offer access to Stonehenge and to other sites on an equal basis to all groups, and no group has special status in regard to access because of their faith or belief

However, English Heritage has considered this matter in some depth, and in the spirit of Human Rights and European Law, the Stonehenge management team and external agencies such as Wiltshire Police consult regularly with various druid and pagan groups about open access to Stonehenge for spiritual or ceremonial purposes.

As a consequence, arrangements are made for open access to be available several times a year. Groups and individuals of any faith are welcome into Stonehenge, free of charge, to celebrate their beliefs and to perform their sacred ceremonies. At these times, we expect the people attending to adhere to the published entry conditions, to ensure public safety and protection of the monument.

The next available opportunity to take part in open access to Stonehenge is on the 20th March to celebrate the spring Equinox. Gathered attendees will be able to enter the monument at dawn (from approximately 05.30 am) and remain until 08.00 am.

You and your group would be very welcome to attend free of charge.
Yours sincerely

You aren't allowed to touch Stonehenge unless you are a dirty, unkept
hippy cunt.

I'm not quite sure how to take the reply as it is partially a knock back, but at the same time I did only think the site was available to religious processions at the solstice events. What annoys me about Stonehenge in particular is the English Heritage's inability to manage the publics handling of the monuments. 
They build a car park over a part of the site of which is of historical interest (wooden post holes were found under the car park which pre-date the monument) and then charge us £8 a pop to visit a monument which has stood for up to 5000 year independently. Once you get to Stonehenge you are unfortunately reminded that you cannot approach or touch the stones, and you are forced to walk in a wide circle around the monument where you get no closer than the road anyway (thus making the whole paying for entry a pointless endeavour. 
 The over zealous security goes out of the window however come Solstice time. Then its perfectly acceptable to allow a load of acid-taking, wanna-be-hippies climb all over the fucking thing.
 These people are not pagans, pagans would respect an ancient monument built by their ancestors. These people are just a load of cunts
 In any case, it doesn't make a great deal of sense. The only reason why these bellends are there is because of the novelty of being able to get up close and touch the stones which you aren't allowed to do any other time of the year. I'm all for religious freedom, but I'm also about preservation. It makes no sense to offer it seven times a year for thousands of idiots instead of just opening it to everyone at all times with a few static security - of which we pay for anyway, right?
I have to ask, who in their right mind would want to spend time with these cunts anyway?


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