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Monday, April 12, 1999 Published at 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK


Police to lift Stonehenge blockade

Summer solstice celebrations could restart at Stonehenge

Police are to scrap the four-mile exclusion zone around Stonehenge for this year's summer solstice.

The move follows a law lords ruling that the public does have a right to assemble peacefully on the nearby highway for the popular event.

The decision, taken by Elizabeth Neville, Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, has been welcomed by landowners English Heritage.

Battle of the Beanfield

Public access to the ancient monument itself will still be restricted as English Heritage plan to grant access to just 100 people with prior bookings.

But the police said that they would not seek to apply to Salisbury district council for permission for the blockade.

The exclusion was first put in place more than a decade ago after violent clashes between police and hippies at the so-called Battle of the Beanfield in 1985.

[ image: Road closed: A familar site for revellers]
Road closed: A familar site for revellers
The zone was designed to prevent large vehicle convoys and travellers gathering near the monument.

In recent years there have been fewer people trying to reach Stonehenge for the solstice and there has been a corresponding decrease in the amount of trouble.

The decision not to impose the curfew this year was taken after a House of Lords judgment in the case of university lecturer Dr Margaret Jones and student Richard Lloyd - who were arrested at Stonehenge in 1995.

The law lords decided that the public do have the right to assemble peacefully on the highway "for any reasonable purpose providing it does not cause a nuisance or obstruction".

Last year 100 people attended the solstice celebrations, including druids, pagans, astronomers, archaeologists and local residents.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said there were plans to build on last year's limited access and that talks were taking place with interested groups.

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