May 4, 2009

Stonehenge Protester Has No Plans To Leave

Wiltshire Council last week issued a legal order for a 55-year-old man who has been protesting on-site at Stonehenge for nearly a year.

King Arthur Pendragon, formerly known as John Rothwell, began his sit-in at Stonehenge in June 2008 with consent from the Council of British Druid Orders. He says he has "absolutely no intention of leaving" until visitors are allowed better access to the historic site.

Last week, Wiltshire council received an eviction order to remove Pendragon from byway 12, where his critics say he is blocking the highway known as the Netheravon coach road.

"I am still here, so I am in breach of the order as they see it, but I have as much right as anyone else to be here," said Pendragon.

"I am not going to go, I am battening down the hatches and continuing my lawful right to protest and my equal right to religious practice."

"The council's reason is I have no right to live on the highway and I'm saying I've not been living here, I'm picketing."

Pendragon says he wants English Heritage to remove fencing that surrounds the Stonehenge site so that visitors have unobstructed access.

"Wiltshire Council, in its capacity as local highway authority, has a duty to maintain everybody's right to use its full width without interruption or other obstruction," said Stephen Helsby, Wiltshire Council's highways enforcement and traveler services manager.

"The council strives to protect all of its public rights of way from trespass and that includes byway 12 which is situated at the heart of this important World Heritage Site."

Pendragon was supposed to be removed from the site at 1600 BST on Sunday, but no authority member came to tell him to leave.

"We have opened a bottle of mead and we are drinking to Stonehenge," he said.

"I have done a short ritual and spell of protection, calling on the kings of old."


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