Druid named "King Arthur" to be arrested over Stonehenge protest

A modern druid who calls himself "King Arthur Pendragon" faces his arrest for his refusal to quit his protest vigil at Stonehenge:

Shortly after the deadline expired today, he said he had no intention to leave. "We have opened a bottle of mead and we are drinking to Stonehenge. I have done a short ritual and spell of protection, calling on the kings of old.

"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. I am not blocking the byway; other tourists park along there. 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."

Pendragon started protesting with consent from the Council of British Druid Orders after last year's summer solstice. The government scrapped plans to remove fences around Stonehenge, build an underpass and grass over the A344 in 2007.

Stonehenge protester King Arthur Pendragon defies eviction order


  1. I guess I never realized you couldn’t touch the stones, as I’ve never had the honor of visiting Stonehenge. What are they going to do? Touch them so much that they rub away? I guess graffiti is a concern, but it sounds like whoever is in charge of watching over them is lazy.

    I’ve never understood the case for freezing time for artifacts like this. Shouldn’t the people like (arguably nutty) King Arthur Pendragon be allowed to touch and worship Stonehenge and continue to add to the history in a meaningful way?

    Here’s an idea, give King Arthur there a job watching over the site. That way he can do what he pleases and still protect the stones, and everybody’s happy.

  2. Well it might not be mead but how about a shot of Kilbeggan to King Arthur.

    One Land, One King.

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

    Where the hell is Merlin? Isn’t that his job?

  4. By the way, does the UK actually have something such as “my lawful right to religious practice?”.

    Sounds dodgy to me.

  5. Why are the “druids” so into Stonehenge? Despite the Spinal Tap song, the monument predates any Celtic presence in Britain.

  6. #1: The constant touching of a stone surface by human hands renders it smooth and gives it a plastic-like sheen and feel; I think this effect is from the oil in our skin. The bottom of the Western Wall in Israel is a good example. It’s probably been touched a lot more than Stonehenge ever would be, though.

  7. In Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, there’s a legend that a saint had a vision and touched his forehead to a specific supporting column. The tradition is that it is good luck to touch your thumb on this spot. 1500 years of nothing but repeated thumb-touches have worn a hole in that column 4-6 inches deep. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a more profound feeling for the scale of human time against the scale of stone then when I touched that spot.

    Today, dozens of tour groups pass by and hundreds (perhaps) touch that spot daily. And we still have a long time before we have to worry about anything. The hole is only a few inches deep.

    With a guard or two to prevent graffiti, why are they afraid of us in Stonehenge?

  8. I talked this guy when I visited Britain a month ago. Even though he looked a little odd, he was very level headed and made a valid point. He was in no ones way, he stood on the opposite side of the fence from the visitors centre with his signs and posters hanging on the fence.

    We just walked up and asked him what he was trying to protest. So he told us about how the set up that is at Stonehenge now was supposed to just be temporary, but it has been there for quite a few years. And how the government had promised changes, but has yet to go through with them.

    I believe that this man should be allowed to stay where is and continue on with his mission.

  9. “The council strives to protect all of its public rights of way from trespass…”

    I’m confused, how do you trespass on a public right of way?

    From Wikipedia: “Trespass is a legal concept, which refers to intrusion into another person’s property.”

    If it’s public then it’s not trespass.

  10. #8: Yeah, they get worn smoother, but that’s my point. Why does the history of Stonehenge have to be preserved at some arbitrary point? Why is it acceptable for people 1000+ years ago to make their mark, even if it is inadvertently, while people like King Arthur Pendragon aren’t allowed to when the site seems as important to them?

    Yes, you shouldn’t be allowed to touch paintings in museums and things like that, but in places like the Wailing Wall and Stonehenge that smoothness is a testament to how many lives the artifacts have affected.

  11. There are so few things in my life anymore that make me go WTF-ing hell? Cracking a bottle of mead? To the old kings? Wha?
    This man needs lithium and careful observation. Wha? I mean creative anachronism is cool, and we all have our favorite d20, but when somebody starts thinking that they can really cast cure light then it’s time to call in professional help.

  12. Let them touch the stones, let them connect with history, and let them leave their own energy in the stones. Blessed be.

  13. I know that guy! We got into a fistfight.
    He got the ancient amulet; I got the shiner.
    Too bad they aren’t all as easy as Charles Nelson Reilly- his mother is a weakling!

  14. 1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Who goes there?
    King Arthur: It is I, Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, from the castle of Camelot. King of the Britons, defeater of the Saxons, Sovereign of all England!
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Pull the other one!
    King Arthur: I am, and this is my trusty servant Patsy. We have ridden the length and breadth of the land in search of knights who will join me in my court at Camelot. I must speak with your lord and master.
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: What? Ridden on a horse?
    King Arthur: Yes!
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: You’re using coconuts!
    King Arthur: What?
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: You’ve got two empty halves of coconut and you’re bangin’ ’em together.
    King Arthur: So? We have ridden since the snows of winter covered this land, through the kingdom of Mercia, through…
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Where’d you get the coconuts?
    King Arthur: We found them.
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Found them? In Mercia? The coconut’s tropical!
    King Arthur: What do you mean?
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Well, this is a temperate zone
    King Arthur: The swallow may fly south with the sun or the house martin or the plover may seek warmer climes in winter, yet these are not strangers to our land?
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
    King Arthur: Not at all. They could be carried.
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: What? A swallow carrying a coconut?
    King Arthur: It could grip it by the husk!
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: It’s not a question of where he grips it! It’s a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut.
    King Arthur: Well, it doesn’t matter. Will you go and tell your master that Arthur from the Court of Camelot is here?
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Listen. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second, right?
    King Arthur: Please!
    1st soldier with a keen interest in birds: Am I right?

  15. Wasn’t the legend of King Arthur set a few centuries after the Druids left the scene?

  16. JOSHP: it’s just how he wants to live his life. I’d rather give you the lithium if you have a problem with harmless guys like him.

  17. .
    King of the dole, I guess. How else does he pay for his egg’n’chips? Tribute from the Picts? If he’s the rightful King, then what are those Germans doing in Buckingham Palace?

    And how can you be President of the United States if you’re not even an American? The inquiring minds (that actually buy the tabloids you giggle at in line at the supermarket) want to know.

  18. I just want to briefly say that this is a somewhat complex issue, and while some find Arthur Pendragon’s protest/intent admirable he shouldn’t be seen as a spokesman for British Druidry or British Paganism as a whole.

    Further, this isn’t just a problem of “touching” or wearing the tone smooth. Before the change in policy in the 1970s souvenir hunters were actively chipping away at the stones, climbing on them, and a local radio station spray-painted their call-letters on them! It isn’t just a matter of “remove the fences and all will be well”, there has to be a real plan to preserve Stonehenge for all Britons, not just Druids, travellers, and tourists.

    Finally, it should be noted that there is special religious access on the solstices and equinoxes, and that groups can arrange to walk among the stones at any time.

  19. #22: Wait, what? They can just arrange to get closer ahead of time? If that’s the case, well, this is all just silly now. It looks like the powers that be are trying to be accommodating enough.

    Now if he wants to protest that they were lying when they said the conditions were temporary I’m all for that.

  20. I visited the British Isles back in ’76, and at that time you could still walk amongst the stones and touch them. It wasn’t long after that the fence was put up. Even when I was there you could see some graffiti on them, which is a shame. It’s too bad to have the fence there, though. Looking at the stones from behind a fence just isn’t the same as being able to stand next to them.

    I guess I’m seeing both sides of this fence issue.

  21. lol, I am fairly local to stonehenge, last time I was parked up on that byway I found two small bags of weed dumped at the bottom of that chain fence pretty much where he in that photo. I tell ya I spent another hour there searching the rest of fence line for other delights but found nothing else. I am guessing I made some hippy cry that day when he went back for his stash.
    Just thought I’d share the story :D

  22. there is always Avebury, another henge monument in wiltshire that is more impressive imo, with the magnificent Silbury Hill next to it.

    standing there its hard not to believe a little bit of myth and magic, heh. plus it has a pub in the middle of it, always a bonus for any ancient monument.

    stonehenge is more of a honey pot for tourists now….

  23. “If he were really King Arthur, how could they stop him?”

    Stick a sword in a stone and order him to pull it out to prove himself. It worked before.

  24. @28: I’ve never been to Avebury, but I went to a talk by its Keeper of the Stones.

    Very interesting and level-headed chap, explaining the path of Druidism.

    He had an interesting anecdote about how, when he was younger and more misguided, he would hang around at Stonehenge when the solstice ceremonies took place, and pick fights with hecklers.

  25. Although the association of Stonehenge and Druids is a relatively recent one, it does go back to the 1700’s at very least, and gives OBOD & company at least 300 years of history with the Stone Circle.

  26. Well.. Mocking a religious belief, you all should be ashamed of yourself for what you do not understand… Does not a Christain drink the wine of his lord to celebrate and remember his death amoung us?

    ——There are so few things in my life anymore that make me go WTF-ing hell? Cracking a bottle of mead? To the old kings? Wha?
    This man needs lithium and careful observation.—-

    This person does not understand any religion but his own… Pagans of many different religions all celebrate their gods with mead.. And toast their Kings who watch over them like Saints…

    The Druids and Celtics are different religious groups that live in that area. Their practices are silimiar as well as other pagan groups around the world… Pick up a book if you would like to understand the practices of something different from your own faith… Maybe then, you will understand why the fences should come down and the nature’s touches should be felt…

    (A land far away)

  27. Anyone bitching about Arthur calling himself King, I direct you to Emperor Norton. That’ll really get you steamed.

  28. How can we stand idly by while his Majesty is threatened? To arms! We must fly to his aid!

  29. He’s part of a strange race of people who lived hundreds of years before the dawn of history, but no one knows what he was doing there. But his legacy remains, hewn into the living rock of Stonehenge.

  30. Ashley in #20, I have trouble giving anybody credit for being a “history professor” when they can’t keep track of the difference between Quietist and quietest, or dual and duel, though perhaps somebody else mis-transcribed his words onto the web or something. But he’s also either a bit sloppy about the term “mediaval”, since Arthur was ~500-600 AD which is really before that, or else he’s using it really narrowly to refer to this Arthur’s dress and the period of most of the legends as opposed to the real events.

    Jonathan Badger in #7, while Stonehenge almost certainly predated both Celts and Druids (it was probably mostly built from ~2600-1600 BC, according to the always-authoritative Wikipedia, with the beginnings around when the Beaker people arrived, and they may or may not have been ancestors of the Celts who arrived around 600BC, and Stonehenge is one of the later stone circles in Britain so they may be pre-Beaker), it’s still possible that just as the neo-druids decided a century or so ago that it was a really cool place and started having ceremonies there, maybe the original Druids did that too, even though there aren’t any records of it. And there’s some disagreement over whether the original Arthur (~500-600AD) was Druid, Christian, or other.

    But hey, as a pagan friend of mine once said, just because you know you made up the rituals yourself doesn’t mean they’re not meaningful to you, and a century’s long enough to be traditional, certainly much older than the fence that was put up to keep tourists from defacing the place (fortunately after the one time I went there.)

  31. @35 Emperor Norton I is a bit different from this guy, he actually took part in some of the day to day functions of San Francisco’s Chinese districts. Also, his funeral corsage was massive.

    I was surprised to know Druidism still exists, *shrug*.

  32. @ billstewart #39

    The Middle Ages in Europe started with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 CE, and lasted until somewhere in the 1400s.

    So Arthur’s reign can certainly be called medieval, unless you have evidence of Arthur coming in contact with the bureaucracy of the Roman empire.

  33. “I’m confused, how do you trespass on a public right of way?”

    Because a right of way exists to pass from A->B , not for you to hang around , or pitch a tent, its a public right of way over private land.

    This case may be silly, but the legal point is important as many rights of way pass through gardens and similar, and shouldn’t be abused.

  34. “Also, his funeral corsage was massive.”
    #40 Do you mean he was wearing a huge flower? Or maybe you mean cortege…

  35. Christians have claimed many non-Christian religious sites, making them into Christian places of worship. The Hagia Sophia has been a church and a mosque. Just because the modern Druidic groups had nothing to do with the construction of Stonehenge doesn’t mean it isn’t a sacred site to them.

    Heck, if natural rock formations can be sacred sites to people who came along long after they were formed (see native Australian religious beliefs regarding Uluru as an example) a really really old artificial rock formation is just as valid for people that came along long after it was installed.

  36. You guys do understand that there was most likely no “real,” historical King Arthur, right? There may have been various historical figures that contributed to the legend (the earliest of which was probably actually Roman) along with the mythologies of various early British peoples, but one guy? Doubtful. By the time there was a coherent narrative, all the supposed events were already many centuries in the past, in a frequently shattered and almost completely illiterate society. There’s probably a better case for an historical Hercules.

    (Note: I don’t want to be a killjoy. The Once and Future King was probably my favorite book as a kid.)

  37. Curse you Moriarty , you beat me to it . You are correct . I really don’t buy the whole modern druid thing as they really don’t seem to have a clue about the original druids ,but they seem mostly harmless and some I know are nice people . I am trying to figure out exactly what he is protesting .The fence or the lack of protection of the henge ? Most religions provide some sort of protection or supervison at their holy sites even if it is co-oped from a much earlier religion . Maybe these Neo Druid posers need to come up with some way to aid the government in protecting a really cool site . Do I hear anyone starting a fund drive or just some guy that chooses to dress oddly complaining that the government isn’t acting like he wants ?” Ask not what the government can do for you but, what you can do for the government” . Jeez ,sometimes you have to stop complaining and do it yourself .

  38. really you guys. can we just look at this ultra rad older guy and see that he just wants to have fun and get stone henge un-fenced. i mean seriously, he pry got his outfit at a holloween costume store i don’t think he meant to be taken seriously that he is king arthur reincarnated and that we all need to bow to him. it’s just some rad dude doin a rad protest. GO SWINE FLU!

  39. i have actually had the honor of talking to king arthur and his concerns are valid. he is asking for a real tourist center to be made down the road so it is not so close to the actual monument. He also asks to be able to walk with the stones. he has went to international court for the right to walk under the rocks 4 times a year. if this is his religion and it is clear he is active in it then he should be allowed to walk with them more

  40. i was there with a tour group over easter break and had the privalige of talking to this man, and his argument makes plenty of sense and theres nothing wrong with what he does, hes not harrasing tourists and just stands there talking with those who would like to talk to him, why arrest him?

  41. I met this guy a few days ago. What a dude! All he is doing is sticking up for his rights. We have a common law right access the stones unmolested. British Heritage and the local council are committing fraud by using acts and statutes as law. Acts and statutes are only “rules” of a “society” given the force of law through “mutual consent” of the people within that society. It is essentially civil law. This can only be upheld through a contract signed by two parties. Guess what, no consent or contract = no law. We live in a state of despotism, where people who shout out for their god given unalienable rights are chastised. Keep going Author, you’re just a few years ahead of your time, that’s all!

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