Stonehenge Druids in England are planning to lie in front of bulldozers to prevent the new Stonehenge bypass tunnel. When the Romans invaded Britain in the early 1st century AD the island of Anglesey was known as “ Mona” and it was an important religious center for Celtic Druids until it was destroyed in 77 AD. Another British center of Druidism was Stonehenge and while the Romans did away with Anglesey it might be Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, who kills the sacred nature of this iconic Stone Age religious monument. But he faces an unforeseen roadblock: Stonehenge Druids!
Stonehenge Druids And Others Protest The A303 Tunnel Project
According to a report in The Guardian it is expected that plans for the new £2.4 billion (2.847 American dollar) A303 tunnel beside Stonehenge might be approved this week. The new road has been planned to relieve the traditionally traffic-choked road to England’s west country from London, but the bypass is not without its protesters.
Local campaigners have joined archaeologists in the fight against Highways England, English Heritage and the National Trust in a battle to protect one of the world’s most recognizable ancient structures. However, this feud just took a new turn now that the Stonehenge Druids have joined in.
According to English Heritage’s A303 tunnel project webpage this image shows the traffic problems now at Stonehenge (on the left) and what the same location would look like after the tunnel is finished (on the right). ( English Heritage )
Professor Mike Parker Pearson is a member of Highways England ’s independent A303 scientific committee and has dedicated his life to studying Stonehenge. Dr Pearson told The Guardian that the planned road improvement scheme might cause “irreparable damage” to what he describes as a still largely unexplored ancient landscape. Furthermore, because the Stonehenge monument is located on a 5-km-long (3.1-mile-long) heritage site, and the tunnel measures under 3km, the new dual carriageway will cause the “total destruction of all archaeological remains within its path,” said Dr Pearson.
The Protest Against The New Tunnel Is Ongoing
Dr Pearson has projected that only “4% of artifacts” left in the surrounding fields will be recovered and that an estimated “half a million artifacts” will be dumped. As if this weren’t enough archaeological destruction at one site, the western end of the tunnel will, Dr Pearson claims, “erase most of the remains of a camp which may have been used by the builders of Stonehenge.”
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The Unesco World Heritage Committee say they have “persistently warned that the current road plans will adversely impact the Stonehenge landscape because the tunnel is too short.” And when it comes to expressing his personal opinion, Dr Pearson holds nothing back and says the new tunnel plan is “like burning ancient manuscripts .” Oh! Did you see that? This gets very close to calling the politicians behind the plans “Nazis,” who burned historical books and manuscripts, and at best he is comparing the plan to Caesar’s burning of the Great Library of Alexandria , which saw the loss of the ancient world’s single greatest archive of ancient knowledge.
Druids celebrating an important summer ritual at Stonehenge. (sandyraidy / CC BY-SA 2.0 )
Stonehenge Druids Preparing For War!
Local resident Kate Fielden is a retired Stonehenge curator who says she’s prepared to put herself in harm ’s way if the Secretary of State for Transport (Shapps) gives the nod this week for the new tunnel. And expressing how passionate she feels about protecting the site she says she is considering “lying in front of a bulldozer.” And Kate won’t be alone in her repeat of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing, China, because “ King Arthur Pendragon ,” a senior British Druid, has vowed to join her.
What is perhaps the single most irritating part of the new road plan, according to King Pendragon’s comments in The Guardian, is that light pollution from motor vehicles will disturb the view “of the sunset at the winter solstice.” The annual 21st December solstice event currently attracts thousands of visitors to Stonehenge. The self-appointed Celtic priest says his fellow Druids won ‘t pilgrimage anymore to the site if the tunnel is there, because the view of the key astronomical event will be ruined.
Supporters of the new road project could easily point to events at Stonehenge in 2014 when the site was trashed with tons of litter by “36,500 worshipers.” The Daily Mail reported that this annual menagerie of drug-fueled partying and pagan worship at the ancient stone circle on Salisbury Plain had to stop if the site was to survive. However, Anna Eavis, the cultural director of English Heritage presents a different argument saying the tunnel will join up the ancient features cut off by the road which will allow people to enjoy Stonehenge in peace. It remains to be seen how effective the Stonehenge Druids will be in their protest against the tunnel.
Top image: Stonehenge at sunset, a view that will be ruined by the new tunnel according to the Stonehenge druids protesting the project. Source: Luca Oleastri / Adobe Stock
By Ashley Cowie