An estimated 22,500 celebrated a night vigil at Stonehenge from 8PM on 20th June 2002 until 7AM on the 21st June, and had a jolly time, even though dense high cloud ensured the sun was not seen to rise!

I thought that the crowd were more relaxed than before, and I thought this as soon as I arrived and saw that people were not rushing in at the opening but trickling in at a leisurely pace through the night and building to the maximum at around dawn.

Nevertheless I saw that there still was a level of the emotional contestation that we are aware from the anarchists and free festival campaigners who express themselves on the newsgroup on the internet. At the stones this expresses itself in a prolonged occupation of the Stones by the sort of young people who identify with "the people" although of course this rhetoric disguises the fact that they are just one particular group of people, who by occupying the stones in this way, are denying them to some other groups of people. Click on Tribes for further comments on this topic. Persuading people to give up an emotional contestation is I would suggest, no easy matter.

English Heritage stewards did very little to prevent people climbing on the Stones but this is for them the main area of anxiety. Not only are the Stones subject to damage, so is the lichen, which takes a long time to grow. There is a serious safety issue, if just one of those carousing on a stone was to fall off, injuring a person or perhaps a small child underneath. Not the very worst but the most immediate problem is that English Heritage come under flak from critics who say they do not understand how English Heritage can allow people to behave, basically with such disrespect, or perhaps thoughtlessness. Resolving this is again, no easy matter. But if the contestation can be reduced, by such measures as providing a legal music gathering for the contestors to go to, I think the climbing will also be controlled.

The story of how this years Peace Process Goddess, built of green hazel branches, went round and into the Stones is told at Goddess

The attempts to create activities outside the stones featured two solid fuel braziers South of the Stones, which at least provided some refuge for those who were cold, and at least one singalong session. The Hare Krishna people set up on a high part of the bank near the Hele stone and kept a crowd going with their music. The Kings Drummers were authorised to move their dancers drummers and torches in a cordon around the site, and close to dawn they advanced to the Hele stone. Shamus Joy held a poetry corner.

It is a view expressed by others as well as myself, that the level of confrontation is slowly diminishing and the level of celebration is slowly increasing. But there will be a great deal of discussion about the future management of the access, to cope with increasing numbers, and deal with various irritations and errors which arose from the necessity to carry out searches upon entry, for prohibited items, such as camping equipment, glass, firemaking tools, knives and so on.

There were 11 arrests, representing 0.05% of the crowd.

This is very provisional report, and will be improved, when the TRC and the Round Table have met to discuss the Solstice, which will happen later in July. Meanwhile please send your comments to me in a plain text email to:
or share them with everybody in the stonehengepeace newsgroup (see below).


Click on to: Paul Aitken's news clippings

Click on to: Bringing the Goddess into the stones

Click on to: Solstice music CD

Click on to: Solstice picture galleries

Click on to: Individual reports

Click on to: Solstice preparations


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