The Battle for Stonehenge: A Culture Show Special The Culture Show


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The Battle for Stonehenge: A Culture Show Special

Alastair Sooke looks at the controversy over the site surrounding Stonehenge, as English Heritage attempts to create a setting that this unique monument deserves.


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Mysterious, strange, impenetrable.

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Every summer on the solstice,

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Stonehenge becomes a magnet attracting thousands of revellers.

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But, after centuries of speculation and hundreds of documentaries,

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we're still no more certain of what it is.

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No-one knows who they were...

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..or what they were doing...

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..but their legacy remains,

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hewn into the living rock of Stonehenge.

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We've fought over the stones...

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Are you still here, boy?!

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..danced around them.

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We've even dug them up.

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But this year we're finally going to set them free.

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Stonehenge has stood here for more than 4,000 years.

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It's unique.

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And its mystery is as enduring as the stones themselves.

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NEWSREEL: No oral traditions now survive to explain the true origin

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or purpose of this circle of giant stones on Salisbury Plain.

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Perhaps this explains why Stonehenge

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has never lost its hold on our imagination.

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Stonehenge, an eclipse predictor.

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Stonehenge was built to point to the sunrise.

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Our ancestors built Stonehenge to make contact through ceremony.

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An important feature of every druid ritual was human sacrifice,

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and many people think that humans were once sacrificed

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on this altar stone.

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The truth is we'll never really know why they were built,

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and I'm not entirely sure I'd like to find out.

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It might ruin the magic.

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There's something we should get straight right from the beginning.

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I've never actually visited Stonehenge.

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I feel like I have - loads of times.

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I think we all do, in a sense, because it's so familiar -

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this ancient, timeless monument

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which is synonymous with British identity.

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But, now that I'm approaching it for the first time,

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I'm not actually sure what to expect.

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This part of England is an ancient, spiritual landscape

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and Stonehenge has been a place of pilgrimage across the millennia.

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It still is today.

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'You're about to explore the world-famous Stonehenge.

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'Stonehenge is a unique prehistoric temple,

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'aligned with the movements of the sun.

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'Its architecture reveals the sophisticated minds

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'and engineering ability of those who built it.

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Right. Thank you.

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'On this tour, we'll not only find out about Stonehenge,

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'but also the history of the landscape around it.

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'While our visit will take you close to the stones,

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'we won't be entering the circle itself.'

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This is the entrance way

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to the nation's premier, world-famous,

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ancient, prehistoric monument.

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And you approach it through this subterranean tunnel beneath a road.

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It doesn't quite smell of urine, but it feels like it should do.

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I've been trying to think of a word to sum this up,

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and the word that I've come up with,

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which I think sums up this experience, is "wretched."

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AUDIO GUIDES IN VARIOUS LANGUAGES

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Stonehenge gets a million visitors a year.

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A World Heritage Site, it's heavily marketed as a tourist destination

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around the world.

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But the monument is in crisis.

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'Decades of disputes and temporary measures have left their mark.

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'Chain-link fences and a distinctly unmystical A road

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'feature almost as prominently as the stones themselves.'

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There are some people who say this is a national disgrace

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and, coming here, I feel they're right.

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Everything about this place -

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the shuffling approach through that stricken tunnel,

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the proximity of these main roads,

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the general tourist mayhem - it all serves to limit the majesty,

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the mystery of Stonehenge, when it should be trying to enhance it.

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I feel a bit like I'm in a zoo

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and I'm looking at this caged and weary tiger,

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sick of all these gawpers.

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It's quite a sad spectacle, really.

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But there is another side to Stonehenge.

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As the sun drops behind the stones and the tourists leave the site,

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preparations begin for the autumn equinox.

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Four times a year, the Pagan communities of Britain gather

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and, in the hours before dawn,

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Stonehenge once again becomes a living temple.

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I've come to join in the celebrations

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in the hope that I can get closer to the stones

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and find out what draws all these people here.

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There's about 20 minutes to go until dawn

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and everyone seems to be massing in the circle,

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which is quite exciting. There's access.

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And there's this curious mixture

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of the modern, the mundane and the spiritual.

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Oh, the ceremony's beginning.

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-Happy equinox!

-ALL: Happy equinox!

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'The ceremony is led by the druids.'

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Farewell, oh sun, ever-returning light.

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Farewell, oh sun, ever returning light.

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THEY CHANT

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May there be peace in the south.

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ALL: May there be peace in the south.

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May there be peace in the north.

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ALL: May there be peace in the north.

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'Rollo Maughfling is the Archdruid of Glastonbury and Stonehenge.'

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Thee, we invoke, oh, light of life.

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ALL: Thee, we invoke, oh, light of life.

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When he isn't leading ceremonies,

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he lives with his wife, Donna, just outside Swansea.

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The first time I ever went to Stonehenge,

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I'd just been made a druid

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and I was in my 20s and I had a drum with me, I seem to remember.

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And we're sitting down in the middle of Stonehenge,

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playing this drum and I suddenly noticed that the stones

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were responding and they seemed to be vibrating and shaking

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and so I upped it a little bit, gave it more welly,

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and it started to actually become pretty powerful in there and

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the stones themselves had the extraordinary appearance of moving

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in time to the music and I think

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this is where the old folklore name for Stonehenge, Giants' Dance,

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must come from.

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Once the sun has risen and the ceremony is over,

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it becomes clear just how varied the crowd are.

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For a few hours, everyone is free

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to make their own connection with Stonehenge

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and, well, express themselves.

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We live in an age which tends to try and suggest that anything

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that isn't tied down into some type of scientific explanation

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therefore doesn't exist.

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Now this would obviously be a very silly way of trying to deal

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with poetry or the arts or music or theatre or anything of the things...

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We wouldn't have much of a life

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if we were all expected to live by rote and by number.

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So, you know, it has to be experienced, really,

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and, if you get yourself involved in it,

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you will find these things working.

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If you don't involve yourself in it,

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well, then, it's up to you if you want to be dismissive.

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CHANTING

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CHEERING AND CHANTING

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I think one of the things that struck me,

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coming here this morning, is the sincerity of the people

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who are within the stones at the moment

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and there's something a little bit sad...

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I can see from their point of view about the fact that

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in about five minutes they're going to get chucked off the site

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and it returns to the usual tourist thing where it's fenced off.

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Because this site wouldn't mean anything

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if it wasn't for people coming to it

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and bringing their sense of what it means along with them.

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And you can feel that, coming on the equinox,

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which I've really relished.

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It's been quite a privilege to be here with them,

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because suddenly it works.

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The stones are animated by the people.

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-Hip hip...

-ALL: Hooray!

-Hip hip...

-ALL: Hooray!

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-Hip hip...

-ALL: Hooray!

-Yes, thank you!

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The druids may seem quite unusual,

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but they've become such a fundamental part of our image

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of Stonehenge and that's had some unexpected side effects.

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We believe that English Heritage's revenue

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has gone up by some considerable percentage

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since we've been worshipping there regularly,

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and apparently the most frequently asked question they get is,

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-"Will there be any druids there?

-Seriously?!

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-Seriously.

-And do you have any sort of financial arrangement

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-with English Heritage at all?

-None whatsoever.

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It sounds like you'd have a legitimate case for saying,

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"Well, can we have a percentage of the profits you make?"

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Well, we believe that, as druids, that original inspiration,

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back if you like to the first Christians,

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is something that should be done because people love doing it

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and because they give their heart and soul to it

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and not because they expect to be paid for it.

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Someone who does expect to be paid is English Heritage.

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NEWSREEL: Stonehenge is English Heritage's leading money-spinner.

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But there's a price to be paid.

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The trappings of the tourist industry have sprung up around it,

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hemming in the stones amidst car parks, coaches

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and convoys of the curious.

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Now, it's official.

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The Government have branded the facilities

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for tourists visiting Stonehenge as a national disgrace.

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The problems at Stonehenge have preoccupied English Heritage

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since its formation back in the '80s.

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At the moment, the conditions are, quite frankly, deplorable

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and we are ashamed of them

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and I think the nation, as a whole, really, has a responsibility

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to do something better and that's what we're determined to do.

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Just driving up to it now,

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I think it's spoilt by the fact the car park is here.

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It looks a bit too built up as you drive towards it, yeah.

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The removal of the road, the removal of the car park,

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the removal of the awful facilities that are here is a laudable aim.

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I think the sooner they go, the better.

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30 years on, and nothing has changed.

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The saga of Stonehenge is starting to feel as ancient

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as the monument itself.

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But this year will be different.

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We need to build something here that, if necessary in the future,

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can simply be taken off and shifted away.

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The Chief Executive of English Heritage, Simon Thurley, has a plan.

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And, for once, it seems like it's actually going to happen.

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It sits more like a leaf on the landscape.

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In fact, it's already begun.

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What's actually going to change?

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I think the most important change is getting rid of one of the two roads.

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It's only one of the two roads, because there are two roads,

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there's the A303, but getting rid of the A344

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and reuniting the stones with the landscape which they were

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always associated with is totally and utterly fundamental.

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Getting rid of the car park,

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getting rid of the blot that is our encampment of portacabins.

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It is a national embarrassment and a national humiliation.

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I think what we're trying to do is we're trying to present the stones

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in the most, sort of, sympathetic way possible.

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English Heritage have laid out the plan for the year ahead

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and much of is about taking things away.

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No more road. No more car park.

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A new hi-tech visitor centre replacing the old portacabins,

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well out of sight of the stones.

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So far out of sight, in fact,

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that visitors will be transported almost a mile by land train.

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But the most exciting part of the plan for me is this bit -

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no more fences!

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After a century of enclosure, Stonehenge is being set free.

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The big question, I guess, when it comes to Stonehenge,

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is why has it taken eight decades to find a working plan?

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Well, of course, the great thing about Stonehenge is it belongs

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to everybody and everybody feels it belongs to them.

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And so everybody has an opinion about Stonehenge.

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Since 1984, there have been, I think, seven or eight schemes.

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Some schemes were disliked by local residents,

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some by the Ministry of Defence,

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some by the National Trust, some by the archaeologists

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and, over the decades, when people have been struggling to sort it out,

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there have been an awful lot of different views.

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Perhaps the most passionate views of all are those of the druids.

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English Heritage's plans to exhibit bones and cremated remains

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from the site in the new visitor centre

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have come up against some fierce opposition.

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This ground is hallowed to us.

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Taking away the ancestors is bad enough.

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Putting them on display in bloody cabinets to make money

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at their visitor centre is not going to happen.

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Cos when they open that new visitor centre,

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the biggest capital project English Heretics have done,

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20 years in the planning...

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Ah, who knew that..? I mean, all this stuff about English Heretics,

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this is all news to me. I wasn't really aware of this whole issue.

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Because we believe that those who are laid to rest

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should stay to rest.

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But he really feels it very strongly.

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I mean, it's quite tempting, when you turn up,

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to see these guys wearing what they're wearing,

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and sort of dismiss them as being these crackpots.

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There is obviously something eccentric about

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this group of people,

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but he really passionately believes in what he's talking about.

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Erm, it's a matter of belief

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and belief's an important thing that we should respect,

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even if he's carrying a shield with a dragon on it!

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I intend to take non-violent, direct action against them

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and any means of my disposal...

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This issue with the bones seems to be where the beliefs of the druids

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come up against the business of the Heritage industry.

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The landscape surrounding Stonehenge

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is where some of the remains were found.

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Pat Shelley, 'henge enthusiast and tour guide, is showing me around.

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-So we are heading towards a burial mound?

-Yeah, a burial mound.

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There's hundreds and hundreds in this landscape.

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Have a look over to your right there.

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-Can you see some on the ridge in amongst the trees?

-Yeah.

-Loads there.

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There's more in the trees to the left.

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Most of them, not all, but most of them, have been dug.

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-What they were after were the grave goods.

-The gold.

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The gold, in some cases, yeah.

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In all the digging that's taken place in and around Stonehenge,

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what you don't have is any evidence of day-to-day life.

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No houses, hearths, quern stones for grinding grain.

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It's as if Stonehenge was built in isolation of people

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and what we do have around here are hundreds and hundreds

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of these barrows, these burial mounds.

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At Stonehenge itself, 150 plus sets of cremated remains.

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So we're talking about a huge necropolis,

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the largest Neolithic, bronze-age cemetery in the country by far.

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I mean, is there any sort of pattern to the way they're arranged here?

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They're all in little ridges

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and they all have this kind of sightline over to Stonehenge itself.

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The barrows are integral to Stonehenge

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and Stonehenge to the barrows.

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People that come on a tour or bother to come out into the landscape,

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what you have to remember is that for most people

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who have their ancestry in Western Europe,

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they will be genetically linked to the people that built Stonehenge.

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The visitor centre is only a few months from being finished

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and the exhibition will be key to the success of the redevelopment,

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but for Arthur Pendragon,

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the bones are more than just archaeological finds.

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That was a very rousing speech I heard you deliver earlier.

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How do you feel it went?

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I think it went well and I think we're going to have

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quite a few people here to basically rain on English Heretics' parade

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when they decide to open this brand-new visitor centre.

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I mean, for the past 14 years, I've supported them,

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and I'm still supporting the idea of the visitor centre,

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but putting ancient, cremated, human remains and bones

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from these burial mounds, from the environs of Stonehenge,

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on display as some kind of Victorian peep show,

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it's just not happening.

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Why do you feel so strongly about it?

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Because they're the ancestors and, to my mind,

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it doesn't matter whether you died three months ago or 3,000 years ago,

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dead is still dead. I mean, one of the archaeologists said to me,

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"You don't know if they wanted to be buried here."

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And I said, "No, and you don't know your gran wants

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"to be in that church yard, but we're not digging her up!"

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How would they feel?

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It's interesting you use this analogy of a grandparent.

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Do you feel a sense of personal connection in some way

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-with the people who are buried here?

-Yes.

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They were the founding fathers of our nation

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and to end up in a display case in a visitor centre...

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It's not very respectful, is it?

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Well, it's very well-established museum practice

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to show human remains.

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It's always something that is done with reverence and respect

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and we believe it's a perfectly legitimate thing to do.

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Of course, we respect the views of the...

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the Grand Order Of Druids, led by Arthur Pendragon.

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We respect his views

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and he's entitled to feel uncomfortable about it.

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But he does not represent a very large proportion of society.

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The vast majority of people feel quite comfortable

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with the dignified display of human remains.

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Would it make your life easier if this minority of people, the druids,

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if they didn't really have such a vested interest in the stones?

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It would make all of our lives less colourful.

0:20:290:20:33

-That's a very political answer.

-It isn't, it's just true.

0:20:330:20:36

As dawn throws into shadowy relief the giant pillars of Stonehenge,

0:20:390:20:43

the successors of the ancient druids await

0:20:430:20:45

the first rays of midsummer sun.

0:20:450:20:47

The druids are such an essential part of our perception

0:20:510:20:54

of Stonehenge, but the fact that they're there at all

0:20:540:20:57

is down to one man.

0:20:570:20:59

In 1740 the antiquarian, William Stukeley,

0:21:010:21:04

published a book that would revolutionise

0:21:040:21:07

our understanding of Stonehenge.

0:21:070:21:09

This is very special.

0:21:120:21:14

This is a first edition of William Stukeley's Stonehenge.

0:21:140:21:18

What I love about the title page is that it almost seems to enact

0:21:180:21:22

the tension that's at the heart of this book.

0:21:220:21:25

Because you have the very rational script which says,

0:21:250:21:27

"Stonehenge. A Temple Restored." And then the words

0:21:270:21:30

"British druids" are in this gothic, much more seemingly irrational font.

0:21:300:21:34

'This book is Stukeley's masterpiece

0:21:390:21:41

'and it took him more than 20 years to write.'

0:21:410:21:44

This is a work of rational analysis.

0:21:440:21:48

It's trying to classify and codify the stones,

0:21:480:21:51

which is something that hadn't properly been done, even though

0:21:510:21:55

they had been standing for thousands of years.

0:21:550:21:57

It strikes us now as so simple as an idea -

0:21:570:22:01

that you might actually work out specifically the distances,

0:22:010:22:04

the dimensions of Stonehenge to help understand what it was used for,

0:22:040:22:09

its significance, but Stukeley was the first one to do that.

0:22:090:22:12

But it's here that Stukeley departs from his meticulous measurements

0:22:120:22:17

and wanders into the fertile world of his imagination.

0:22:170:22:20

Now here he's getting into the druids.

0:22:210:22:24

"They carried a sharp brass instrument, which we often find,

0:22:240:22:28

"which they used to cut mistletoe at their great festival in midwinter.

0:22:280:22:32

"The manner of sacrificing."

0:22:350:22:38

There's clearly a real, profound engagement on Stukeley's part

0:22:380:22:43

with this kind of, almost romantic history of the druids.

0:22:430:22:46

It's quite a dark sense of what they used this temple of Stonehenge for.

0:22:460:22:51

And it's a curious thing, this, because, in a sense,

0:22:510:22:55

his fascination with druids was just a piece of fantasy and,

0:22:550:22:58

as a result, for subsequent generations of scholars,

0:22:580:23:01

it did slightly undermine the overall achievement of this book.

0:23:010:23:05

William Stukeley died in 1765 -

0:23:090:23:12

a figure of ridicule among his fellow antiquarians,

0:23:120:23:17

but his ideas about the druids lived on.

0:23:170:23:20

Good morning. Actually, I'm not a practising druid

0:23:240:23:27

and, as I've missed the summer solstice,

0:23:270:23:30

I'm unlikely to bump into any.

0:23:300:23:32

Which is probably a good job,

0:23:320:23:33

because I don't think they'd take kindly to a stranger in their midst.

0:23:330:23:36

They might even have decided to have sacrificed me

0:23:360:23:40

and I am too young to die!

0:23:400:23:41

How do you feel about archaeologists who sort of..?

0:23:440:23:47

Well, they dismiss the idea that druids built Stonehenge.

0:23:470:23:50

To us, they were the proto-druids.

0:23:500:23:52

Whoever built that, built it as a solar clock to map

0:23:520:23:55

out the time of year, the longest, the shortest and the equal days.

0:23:550:24:00

They didn't call themselves druids, cos nobody was druids then.

0:24:000:24:05

But they were proto-druids,

0:24:050:24:06

they were still following the same belief structure

0:24:060:24:09

that modern druids, to this day...

0:24:090:24:11

You've just seen us in there celebrating the equal day.

0:24:110:24:15

Well, it was obviously part of the belief structure

0:24:150:24:18

of the people that built Stonehenge.

0:24:180:24:20

So, it doesn't matter whether they were druids,

0:24:200:24:23

it doesn't matter if they were Irish navvies who built it.

0:24:230:24:27

Whoever built it built it to honour the longest and the shortest days.

0:24:270:24:31

Whoever buried the people in and around here

0:24:310:24:34

and in these burial mounds that encircle it,

0:24:340:24:37

buried them in what was and is, to us, a sacred landscape.

0:24:370:24:42

The building of Stonehenge was just the beginning.

0:24:470:24:50

And our cities are now full of modern megaliths.

0:24:550:24:58

We're looking out here across London.

0:25:020:25:05

What do you think archaeologists of the future would make of this scene?

0:25:050:25:08

Well, I think they'll get it all wrong, as usual.

0:25:080:25:12

But I think if you believe that what a culture puts its greatest energies

0:25:120:25:17

into is what means most to it, then, I'm afraid,

0:25:170:25:21

I think that it will be a landscape

0:25:210:25:23

that reveals an extraordinary obsession with money.

0:25:230:25:28

Stukeley was obsessed with uncovering what Stonehenge

0:25:300:25:33

meant to the people who built it, but he had very little to go on.

0:25:330:25:37

Do you think it's unfair that some people seem to write Stukeley off

0:25:390:25:43

as a bit of a nutter?

0:25:430:25:45

Yes, I do.

0:25:450:25:46

Because he was first person to realise that the thing was oriented

0:25:460:25:49

in some way with the solstice.

0:25:490:25:53

Now, once you do that, you are no longer in the business of just

0:25:530:25:56

measuring things and digging things.

0:25:560:25:58

You are now involved with something

0:25:580:26:00

that has purpose and motive and meaning,

0:26:000:26:03

so you have to begin to try and work out what that might be.

0:26:030:26:06

Of course, as he went on, he filled in more and more of the details,

0:26:060:26:10

and I think people were less and less persuaded.

0:26:100:26:12

On the other hand, if one looks at Stukeley's legacy,

0:26:120:26:17

people still use his measurements.

0:26:170:26:19

He measured features at Stonehenge that have since disappeared,

0:26:190:26:22

so the archaeologists are indebted to him,

0:26:220:26:24

but his legacy to our present experience of Stonehenge

0:26:240:26:28

is also huge.

0:26:280:26:29

Stukeley said there were druids at Stonehenge.

0:26:290:26:31

OK, when he said it, there weren't, there are now.

0:26:310:26:34

There is a third prong to Stukeley's legacy at Stonehenge,

0:26:370:26:41

one that's possibly the most influential of all.

0:26:410:26:44

It was one of Stukeley's many interventions in the history

0:26:460:26:49

of Stonehenge that he did turn it into a tourist site.

0:26:490:26:52

He was the first person to make other people

0:26:520:26:54

want to go there just to see it.

0:26:540:26:56

I think he would have been astonished

0:26:560:26:59

and dismayed by what's happened since,

0:26:590:27:02

in terms of its exploitation as a tourist site -

0:27:020:27:04

when it was just referred to as a toilet stop

0:27:040:27:07

on the Bath to London road.

0:27:070:27:09

I think it says a lot about us that we could have reduced

0:27:090:27:13

such an extraordinary monument to that.

0:27:130:27:16

Back on site,

0:27:300:27:31

the road is being dug up and the fences are finally coming down.

0:27:310:27:35

The old facilities are being consigned to history.

0:27:410:27:44

The landscape is starting to regain some of its old magic.

0:27:570:28:01

A magic that's inspired some of our greatest minds.

0:28:030:28:07

By the early 19th century, the Romantics had embraced the stones,

0:28:100:28:15

adding their own layer of mystery and intrigue.

0:28:150:28:18

The poet, William Blake,

0:28:200:28:22

depicts Stonehenge as a terrifying scene of human sacrifice.

0:28:220:28:26

A building of eternal death:

0:28:300:28:32

whose proportions are eternal despair

0:28:320:28:36

Here Vala stood turning the iron spindle of destruction

0:28:360:28:40

From heaven to earth.

0:28:400:28:42

11 miles away in Salisbury hangs one of the most famous images

0:28:540:28:58

of Stonehenge from the Romantic period,

0:28:580:29:01

or from any period, really.

0:29:010:29:03

This is the watercolour of Stonehenge that Turner created

0:29:090:29:12

in the 1820s and it's become probably

0:29:120:29:16

the best-known visual artwork of Stonehenge.

0:29:160:29:20

Don't be fooled by the brightness of it which seems, initially,

0:29:210:29:24

to be quite picturesque and alluring,

0:29:240:29:26

because actually Turner saw in Stonehenge

0:29:260:29:29

something quite menacing, sinister.

0:29:290:29:31

It was a place of foreboding.

0:29:310:29:33

In the foreground, you have a shepherd with his flock,

0:29:330:29:36

but this shepherd has been killed.

0:29:360:29:39

He's been struck by a bolt of lightning. The storm's passing,

0:29:390:29:42

you can see another bolt of lightning in the background

0:29:420:29:45

and next to him, his faithful dog

0:29:450:29:46

is howling, because his master won't respond.

0:29:460:29:49

Some of the sheep have been struck down, as well,

0:29:500:29:52

but now they're milling.

0:29:520:29:54

There's a sense of, well, clearly unease.

0:29:540:29:57

This is all about the artist's imagination.

0:30:010:30:04

Turner here is interested in the great drama,

0:30:040:30:07

not just of the story of the shepherd being killed,

0:30:070:30:10

but of nature itself.

0:30:100:30:11

With this huge, vast roiling sky with all of these clouds,

0:30:110:30:15

beams of sunlight coming in in dramatic diagonals,

0:30:150:30:18

which illuminate the best part of the composition.

0:30:180:30:21

The reason I think it's so interesting is because,

0:30:230:30:25

when you look at Stonehenge, it's not realistic at all.

0:30:250:30:28

If you went and stood at this point, you would not see a stone circle

0:30:280:30:32

resembling this. Turner has played fast and loose with the stones.

0:30:320:30:36

He's taken artistic licence,

0:30:360:30:38

he's thinned out some of the uprights,

0:30:380:30:40

he's changed the tone and colour.

0:30:400:30:42

And that's partly what Romanticism was all about -

0:30:420:30:44

it's about the artist

0:30:440:30:46

imprinting their own vision of what they see in front of them.

0:30:460:30:49

Turner's painting was reproduced countless times

0:30:510:30:55

and it became hugely popular.

0:30:550:30:56

By the end of the 19th century, a new kind of image was to become

0:31:050:31:09

the fashionable souvenir of the monument - a photograph.

0:31:090:31:14

And no Victorian day trip was complete without a picnic.

0:31:200:31:25

By the end of the century, the situation was dire.

0:31:300:31:33

There were so many 19th-century day trippers having lunch

0:31:330:31:36

in the middle of Stonehenge

0:31:360:31:37

that there was a national outcry in the press.

0:31:370:31:40

And I've got a cutting here of this wonderful article

0:31:400:31:42

that appeared in The Sketch on the 30th of September, 1896,

0:31:420:31:46

and the journalist writes, "A picnic at Stonehenge

0:31:460:31:49

"is one of those incongruities which ought to be put down by law.

0:31:490:31:53

"Under these everlasting stones assembles a noisy band of cyclists

0:31:530:31:57

"who profane the spot with the popping of corks

0:31:570:32:00

"and the cracking of 19th-century jests.

0:32:000:32:03

"I wonder the ancient druids do not arise,

0:32:030:32:05

"armed with something stronger than mistletoe,

0:32:050:32:08

"and whip these intruders out of the solemn precincts."

0:32:080:32:12

In an added affront,

0:32:180:32:19

litter led to the site becoming infested with rats.

0:32:190:32:24

Their burrowing was destabilising the stones.

0:32:240:32:26

Something had to be done,

0:32:300:32:32

but Stonehenge was still privately-owned.

0:32:320:32:35

It took the First World War to change the monument's fate.

0:32:380:32:41

Its owner, Sir Edmund Antrobus,

0:32:410:32:44

had been killed in action and his entire estate was put up for sale.

0:32:440:32:48

Lot 15 was Stonehenge.

0:32:500:32:53

This is a genuinely amazing document,

0:32:550:32:58

dated the 31st December, 1915.

0:32:580:33:01

It's an agreement, conveyance,

0:33:010:33:04

between Cosmo Gordon Antrobus and two people -

0:33:040:33:08

Mrs Mary Bella Alice Chubb and Cecil Herbert Edward Chubb Esq.

0:33:080:33:13

This man, Cecil Chubb, went along to the auction,

0:33:130:33:16

wasn't particularly planning to buy anything at all,

0:33:160:33:20

got quite concerned that perhaps Stonehenge might be snapped up

0:33:200:33:23

by some very wealthy American who would even, perhaps,

0:33:230:33:27

take it away and dismantle it and erect it over in the States.

0:33:270:33:30

So he decided to bid and he bought the thing.

0:33:300:33:33

And we can see that he paid the sum of £6,600.

0:33:330:33:40

That was it!

0:33:400:33:41

The story goes that Cecil bought Stonehenge as a wedding present

0:33:410:33:45

for his wife, and we can only assume

0:33:450:33:47

that she was quite hard to please because, apparently,

0:33:470:33:50

she wasn't best impressed and despite having shelled out £6,600,

0:33:500:33:55

three years after he paid for Stonehenge, in 1915,

0:33:550:33:58

he gave it to the nation.

0:33:580:34:00

And he was rewarded for that - he was given a knighthood

0:34:000:34:03

and became known locally as Viscount Stonehenge.

0:34:030:34:06

With the monument now safely in public ownership,

0:34:090:34:12

the important work of restoration could begin,

0:34:120:34:15

all overseen by the outstanding men from the Ministry Of Works.

0:34:150:34:20

Now this model shows us a part of the

0:34:200:34:23

south west corner of Stonehenge as it looks today.

0:34:230:34:26

Here you see a great heap of fallen stones.

0:34:260:34:29

Well, the first operation is to clear up the mess,

0:34:310:34:35

to remove the stones which now lie clumsily on top of each other,

0:34:350:34:40

and clear the decks for action.

0:34:400:34:43

Of course, it will be done with the utmost care and skill

0:34:430:34:47

by the engineers of the Ministry Of Works.

0:34:470:34:49

Here, we're not really restoring, erm, what is missing,

0:34:520:34:57

we are simply putting back into position certain stones

0:34:570:35:01

which have fallen in recent times

0:35:010:35:04

and in the original position, which is exactly known.

0:35:040:35:08

And here is the lintel stone that will fit across the top.

0:35:080:35:11

They may be back in their original position,

0:35:150:35:17

but they definitely aren't in their original setting.

0:35:170:35:20

Right up until 1964, the stones were being hoisted aloft,

0:35:200:35:25

straightened and set in concrete.

0:35:250:35:28

But it wasn't just the conservationists

0:35:310:35:33

who left their mark.

0:35:330:35:35

NEWSREEL: Visitors have done their share of damage, too.

0:35:350:35:38

There was a time when they could hire a hammer from the nearby town

0:35:380:35:41

of Amesbury for the purpose of chipping off souvenirs.

0:35:410:35:44

The stones were roped off in 1977.

0:35:470:35:51

But come the winter solstice, people clamber all over them.

0:35:530:35:57

There's obviously something special

0:35:590:36:01

about being able to touch the stones,

0:36:010:36:03

but I wonder how damaging these quarter days really are.

0:36:030:36:07

'I've met up with archaeologist Julian Richards to talk about

0:36:120:36:17

'the impact we've had on the stones.'

0:36:170:36:19

There are lots of sort of marks and divots and,

0:36:190:36:21

I guess, bits of graffiti and..?

0:36:210:36:23

Yeah. Lots of what you can see on the surface is just erosion.

0:36:230:36:27

It's the way the stones have worn and bits have fallen off.

0:36:270:36:30

But there is some graffiti over here.

0:36:300:36:33

"Equinox rocks."

0:36:330:36:34

How do you feel about everyone being able to touch the stones these days?

0:36:340:36:37

I mean, this is quite gentle, really, isn't it?

0:36:370:36:40

-And I know you're not supposed...

-It's not ideal.

0:36:400:36:42

No. I mean, they don't like the stones being touched,

0:36:420:36:45

but I think this is... This is quite respectful.

0:36:450:36:48

I don't like people standing on the stones.

0:36:480:36:50

I'll tell people off when they do that, but...

0:36:500:36:52

It must happen all the time.

0:36:520:36:53

Well, it's quite difficult to police, really, but today's...today's nice.

0:36:530:36:58

But, look,

0:36:580:36:59

there's all this 19th-century and 18th-century graffiti,

0:36:590:37:03

people came and actually carved their names on these stones.

0:37:030:37:06

They must have done that with a metal hammer and chisel,

0:37:060:37:08

because it's hard stuff,

0:37:080:37:10

but, when this was being photographed in the '50s,

0:37:100:37:12

it was realised that there were some shallower carvings

0:37:120:37:15

and this is a dagger.

0:37:150:37:17

-You see, here's the blade and here's the hilt of the dagger.

-Yeah!

0:37:170:37:21

And then this is slightly more difficult to see,

0:37:210:37:24

but there's a curved blade here and this is an axe.

0:37:240:37:28

And these are ancient?

0:37:280:37:30

You can't date a carving,

0:37:300:37:32

but if you look at the shape of these

0:37:320:37:34

they fit perfectly well with early bronze-age examples.

0:37:340:37:38

So it could be almost like the workman has signed

0:37:380:37:40

-it with his tools?

-No. Because these went up in about 2,500 BC...

-Right.

0:37:400:37:45

..these date to somewhere around 1,800 BC.

0:37:450:37:50

These stones have been standing here for maybe 700, you know, 800 years.

0:37:500:37:54

It's old by that time.

0:37:540:37:56

You know, this is as old as Salisbury Cathedral is to us now,

0:37:560:38:01

but people are still coming back and putting their mark on it.

0:38:010:38:05

It's a similar impulse to this, which is 19th century.

0:38:050:38:07

There's one bit over here that really intrigues me.

0:38:070:38:10

Can you make out what these letters are on here?

0:38:120:38:16

Is this like an 'I'?

0:38:160:38:18

It's an 'I' with a little bit through it.

0:38:180:38:20

-That's definitely a 'W'.

-'W'.

-And an 'R', is it?

0:38:200:38:24

-This is clearly an 'E'.

-Yeah, OK.

0:38:240:38:26

And then that at the end, that's a bit faint,

0:38:260:38:28

but that is an 'N'.

0:38:280:38:30

Right. Wren.

0:38:300:38:32

That is the abbreviation for Christopher.

0:38:320:38:35

What? Sorry, as in this is Mr St Paul's..?

0:38:350:38:38

Well, he was born about 12 miles down the road at a little village...

0:38:380:38:41

-Was he?!

-..called East Knoyle so we can't prove this is the same Wren,

0:38:410:38:46

but isn't it intriguing?

0:38:460:38:48

The idea that, you know, one of our greatest artists was a vandal

0:38:480:38:50

who came and carved his name on Stonehenge?

0:38:500:38:52

Who knew? This isn't very respectful of Wren, is it?

0:38:520:38:55

Perhaps this is where he got his inspiration from -

0:38:550:38:57

a great piece of prehistoric architecture.

0:38:570:39:00

Well, nowadays people don't chip off souvenir pieces any more,

0:39:020:39:05

but some people still seem to thing it's a very funny idea to go along

0:39:050:39:09

and spoil the stones by painting slogans all over them.

0:39:090:39:11

It's a very silly idea,

0:39:110:39:13

because the paint is going to take several hundred years

0:39:130:39:15

before it can wear off.

0:39:150:39:17

By the late '60s, Stonehenge had once more become a canvas on which

0:39:220:39:28

a new generation could express their anxieties about the future.

0:39:280:39:31

ARCHIVE AUDIO: 'How do you see Britain?

0:39:320:39:34

'As a garden? A quiet, private place where people are left alone?

0:39:340:39:38

'And where disaster, tragedy and violence are rare?

0:39:380:39:41

'A place of friends? Of ceremony? Of memory?

0:39:410:39:44

'Many young people in Britain,

0:39:440:39:46

'expressing themselves through new forms of music,

0:39:460:39:48

'agree with these traditional ideas.'

0:39:480:39:50

Lots of bands made the pilgrimage out to Stonehenge,

0:39:510:39:55

but there was one person who embraced the mystical vibes

0:39:550:39:58

more than any other.

0:39:580:40:00

Marc Bolan.

0:40:030:40:05

'He sings Dragon's Ear

0:40:070:40:09

'and The Children Of Rarn thinking of Stonehenge,

0:40:090:40:12

'of the giant figures of horses and men carved in the chalk hills.

0:40:120:40:16

'He's no scholar - rather, using electricity,

0:40:160:40:19

'he's trying to feel the meaning of the legend of Britain.

0:40:190:40:23

'He travels into his future by travelling into his past.'

0:40:230:40:26

Through the use of a guitar, which is like a piece of wood

0:40:290:40:33

with string on it, really, when you relate to it like that, made by man,

0:40:330:40:37

that certain things can stir your emotions out of a piece of carpentry

0:40:370:40:41

or blowing a piece of steel pipe and making you cry.

0:40:410:40:45

It's the spirit coming through.

0:40:450:40:47

It's when people deny their spiritual factors,

0:40:470:40:50

it's very sad, because it's everywhere around us.

0:40:500:40:52

The free festival movement of the '70s was a reaction

0:40:580:41:02

to our increasingly urbanised lives.

0:41:020:41:04

An experiment in communal living.

0:41:080:41:10

It was only a matter of time before a festival arrived at Stonehenge,

0:41:140:41:18

an ancient gathering place.

0:41:180:41:20

Only around 500 people attended the first Stonehenge Free Festival

0:41:220:41:26

in 1974, but by the following year

0:41:260:41:29

the numbers were up to 3,000 and they kept on growing.

0:41:290:41:33

What had started as a small gathering had turned

0:41:360:41:40

into a month-long festival the size of a town.

0:41:400:41:43

There were, in fairness,

0:41:450:41:47

all sorts of legitimate concerns about the festival.

0:41:470:41:49

Things like toilets being dug into the ancient landscape.

0:41:490:41:52

Supposedly, someone carved a kind of bread oven

0:41:520:41:55

into one of these burial mounds.

0:41:550:41:57

There were even reports that motorbikes were being ridden

0:41:570:41:59

right through the centre of the stones.

0:41:590:42:01

So, once again, Stonehenge felt like it was in jeopardy.

0:42:010:42:04

And the press, they were vociferous.

0:42:040:42:07

They really came out against these hippies

0:42:070:42:09

who came here for the festival and, as a result,

0:42:090:42:11

the Government was called upon to take some decisive action.

0:42:110:42:14

But it wasn't really until the mid '80s when the idealism

0:42:140:42:18

of the free festival came to a really bloody and abrupt end.

0:42:180:42:21

Across the country, tension was mounting.

0:42:260:42:29

The miners were out on strike,

0:42:330:42:35

and by 1984 unemployment had reached a record high.

0:42:350:42:40

To all the British people,

0:42:400:42:42

howsoever they have voted, may I say this?

0:42:420:42:45

May we get together and strive to serve and strengthen

0:42:450:42:49

the country of which we are so proud to be a part?

0:42:490:42:53

People did come together,

0:42:570:42:59

but not in the way that Margaret Thatcher had imagined.

0:42:590:43:02

As communities broke down, thousands left our cities

0:43:020:43:06

and looked for a better life out on the open road.

0:43:060:43:09

The New Age travellers who had started the free festival

0:43:090:43:12

at Stonehenge were now

0:43:120:43:14

joined by a younger generation inspired by their example.

0:43:140:43:18

Helen Hatt was one of them.

0:43:190:43:21

Well, I think there was a huge amount of dissatisfaction

0:43:220:43:25

with the way society was going and people were looking for a new path.

0:43:250:43:29

It seemed like a much better option than what I was presently living.

0:43:290:43:32

I was living in a cold, damp flat with no job prospects

0:43:320:43:36

and what I could see on the festivals

0:43:360:43:37

was the possibility of having a travelling business.

0:43:370:43:40

I went to the Stonehenge Festival as a children's clown.

0:43:400:43:43

-This was when you were in your...

-Yes, I was 18, 19 years old, yeah.

0:43:430:43:47

The Stonehenge Festival was really important to us,

0:43:500:43:53

because it was the gathering point of the year.

0:43:530:43:55

It was when most of all of the travellers in Britain

0:43:550:43:57

would come together at Stonehenge Festival,

0:43:570:44:00

so it was an iconic image of going back to connect with the ancestors.

0:44:000:44:04

But public opinion was turning against the travellers.

0:44:070:44:11

ARCHIVE: By now, the Peace Convoy is used to the unpopularity

0:44:130:44:16

which follows them practically everywhere they go.

0:44:160:44:18

They have no regard for law and order.

0:44:180:44:21

It seems, in my view, to diminish each year.

0:44:210:44:24

We represent everything they hate.

0:44:260:44:28

People who are free and they want to stop it,

0:44:280:44:30

because they don't want more people joining it.

0:44:300:44:33

You can't have 100,000 people

0:44:330:44:35

turning up at an archaeological site and causing havoc at the place.

0:44:350:44:39

It's all resolvable. You can pick litter.

0:44:390:44:41

You can clean up after people have gone away.

0:44:410:44:44

It's a field, it's organic, it carries on growing.

0:44:440:44:46

But you're talking about digging trenches,

0:44:460:44:48

that sort of thing, surely..?

0:44:480:44:49

People knew where to dig on the edge of the chalk,

0:44:490:44:52

it wasn't near the burial mounds.

0:44:520:44:53

There was a huge respect for the sacred archaeology of Stonehenge,

0:44:530:44:57

that was one of the reasons that people were there.

0:44:570:44:59

The authorities didn't agree.

0:45:000:45:03

In June 1985, a four-mile exclusion zone was enforced

0:45:030:45:07

to stop the Stonehenge Free Festival.

0:45:070:45:10

I actually got a vehicle together that year.

0:45:160:45:18

That was the... You know, I had to save up a certain amount of money

0:45:180:45:21

and get my vehicle on the road and I'd done that.

0:45:210:45:24

So I had my home and I had my little magic box and my clown costume

0:45:240:45:28

and I had bookings at the different festivals.

0:45:280:45:31

So I hit the road properly in 1985.

0:45:310:45:35

Friends said to me, "Do you want to travel in convoy with us?"

0:45:350:45:38

It was safer to travel in convoy, it was pleasant and, erm...

0:45:380:45:42

I said, "Yes."

0:45:420:45:44

I was fully taxed, MOT'd, insured, I wasn't breaking any laws.

0:45:440:45:48

I didn't have any fear, cos I wasn't breaking any laws.

0:45:480:45:52

And then we got to a point where the front of the convoy was blocked.

0:45:520:45:57

This is the front of the convoy.

0:45:580:46:00

There are 150 vehicles behind me.

0:46:000:46:03

They are all heading for Stonehenge.

0:46:030:46:05

And they started to smash the windows of the front vehicles.

0:46:070:46:10

Wait, wait!

0:46:100:46:13

They came in at us like we were

0:46:130:46:15

a bunch of dangerous, hardcore soldiers.

0:46:150:46:18

I could just see policemen coming down the line of the vehicles,

0:46:190:46:22

just smashing all the windows down the side of the vehicles

0:46:220:46:25

and pulling people out throwing them to the tarmac.

0:46:250:46:28

-Were they doing that to women and children, as well?

-Yes, they were.

0:46:280:46:31

That was what was scary for somebody like me.

0:46:310:46:33

I was only 19 years old,

0:46:330:46:35

so as soon as the police arrived at my vehicle,

0:46:350:46:37

I threw my hands in the air and I went,

0:46:370:46:39

"OK. Tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it."

0:46:390:46:43

Nobody talked to me as they arrived.

0:46:450:46:46

And then a policeman jumped on the bonnet of the vehicle

0:46:460:46:49

and started hitting the windscreen and I was just instinctively putting

0:46:490:46:53

my hand up against the windscreen to stop the window smashing in my face.

0:46:530:46:57

And then the side window smashed in and then the copper on this side

0:46:570:47:01

reached in and grabbed hold of my hair and pulled me over

0:47:010:47:04

and my foot jumped off the clutch

0:47:040:47:07

and the vehicle jumped backwards just a little bit and then stalled.

0:47:070:47:11

And then the engine was stopped

0:47:110:47:13

and he had the keys and I thought that was going to be the end of it.

0:47:130:47:16

But they carried on smashing up the windows around me.

0:47:160:47:19

I was a well-known, peaceful hippy

0:47:200:47:22

and I was brutally beaten in front of my friends.

0:47:220:47:25

So my friends ran.

0:47:250:47:27

Hemmed in by police barricades, the travellers began to panic.

0:47:290:47:33

You have no escape.

0:47:330:47:35

They'd broke through the fences

0:47:350:47:37

and drove their vehicles into the bean fields next to the road.

0:47:370:47:40

There was a standoff for a few hours where our people

0:47:410:47:44

tried to negotiate to leave the field.

0:47:440:47:47

I'm not here to bargain with you.

0:47:470:47:49

I'm here to say something to you for you to consider.

0:47:490:47:52

We want to go to Stonehenge.

0:47:520:47:55

Well, the Stonehenge Festival, as you know, has been cancelled.

0:47:550:47:58

We haven't done anything, have we?

0:47:580:48:00

We're genuine people, just like yourselves,

0:48:000:48:03

and we need help right now.

0:48:030:48:06

Please. Help us. All of you.

0:48:060:48:10

The police waited until 7 o'clock in the evening,

0:48:100:48:12

when they'd amassed enough forces,

0:48:120:48:15

which turned out to be soldiers, co-opted as special constables,

0:48:150:48:19

put in boiler suits and looking like police.

0:48:190:48:21

But they weren't, a lot of them were solders.

0:48:210:48:24

And they were sent in to basically stop the convoy.

0:48:240:48:28

-Get out!

-WOMAN SCREAMS

0:48:320:48:34

Very few outsiders witnessed the events in the bean field that day.

0:48:360:48:40

Most of the media obeyed police instructions

0:48:400:48:43

and stayed behind the barricades.

0:48:430:48:45

Are you still here, boy?!

0:48:450:48:47

On the deck! On the deck!

0:48:470:48:49

This footage was shot an ITN news crew

0:48:510:48:53

and it records the violence meted out against the travellers.

0:48:530:49:00

SHE SCREAMS

0:49:000:49:02

No!

0:49:020:49:04

Someone help me! Help me!

0:49:140:49:17

I didn't do anything, mate.

0:49:190:49:20

They smashed me windows, they hit me over the head with truncheons!

0:49:200:49:23

Then they hit me when I was on the floor.

0:49:230:49:26

The number of people who've been hit by policemen,

0:49:280:49:31

who've been clubbed whilst holding babies in their arms

0:49:310:49:33

and in coaches around this field are still to be counted.

0:49:330:49:37

What the end result will be we don't know,

0:49:370:49:39

but there must surely be an inquiry after what's happened here today.

0:49:390:49:42

In the end, there was no inquiry.

0:49:440:49:47

When the very laws and the powers that be of your country betray you

0:49:470:49:52

and beat you up for no reason and you genuinely know that

0:49:520:49:56

there's no reason that that should happen to you.

0:49:560:49:58

Yeah, you know, it wobbles your faith,

0:49:580:50:00

it wobbles you, it imbalances you.

0:50:000:50:03

Once a symbol of freedom, Stonehenge had become a warzone

0:50:060:50:10

and the battle went on for years.

0:50:100:50:13

But the new millennium marked a new beginning at the stones.

0:50:200:50:24

NEWSREEL: This was the product of months of negotiation

0:50:240:50:27

between English Heritage, druids and pagans.

0:50:270:50:30

It was in sharp contrast to the violence of the mid '80s

0:50:300:50:33

when Stonehenge was closed to all.

0:50:330:50:35

This has been a much brighter decade for the custodians of Stonehenge.

0:50:370:50:42

I and my colleagues now are much luckier.

0:50:420:50:44

We have a situation which is much more harmonious,

0:50:440:50:47

is much more understanding.

0:50:470:50:49

There are always odd difficulties

0:50:490:50:51

and there are odd protests about things that happen,

0:50:510:50:53

but, essentially, there is harmony and agreement that we want

0:50:530:50:56

to get people access to these stones at the important times for them.

0:50:560:51:00

The new visitor centre opened a few months ago,

0:51:020:51:05

but it immediately faced problems.

0:51:050:51:08

Long queues and broken-down land trains

0:51:080:51:10

led to it being branded Moanhenge by the press.

0:51:100:51:14

NEWSREEL: Up to 5,000 people a day head to the new visitor centre.

0:51:140:51:20

The weekend result -

0:51:200:51:21

an overflowing car park and a very long wait to get in.

0:51:210:51:26

The system here of transporting people to Stonehenge

0:51:260:51:29

is extremely inefficient.

0:51:290:51:30

We spent exactly seven minutes,

0:51:300:51:32

out of an hour and a half that we were here,

0:51:320:51:35

on the site at Stonehenge.

0:51:350:51:37

But the curse of Stonehenge finally seems to be lifting.

0:51:380:51:42

The land trains are back on the road.

0:51:420:51:45

How are you finding these land trains?

0:51:450:51:48

I think they add to the experience, actually.

0:51:480:51:50

They're disguised as Land Rovers, which we felt were appropriate.

0:51:500:51:53

They're meant to look like a little convoy of Land Rovers.

0:51:530:51:56

Simon's going to show me the new exhibition.

0:51:580:52:01

I'm not sure what the builders of Stonehenge would make

0:52:010:52:04

of all these whizzy CGI displays, but, of course, one of them is here.

0:52:040:52:09

-This is obviously the skeleton, the human remains.

-Yes.

0:52:090:52:15

They're here. Arthur obviously didn't win out.

0:52:150:52:18

What do you think when you look at this chap here?

0:52:180:52:21

I think what it shows is that Neolithic man

0:52:210:52:24

was a man just like us, you know.

0:52:240:52:27

These are people who, if you met him on a street today,

0:52:270:52:30

he's a recognisable person and I think that we want people

0:52:300:52:35

to understand that we're not dealing with some sort of alien species.

0:52:350:52:39

We're dealing with sophisticated, intelligent people.

0:52:390:52:42

This is not the age of the dinosaurs.

0:52:420:52:44

The museum is full of artefacts and panels

0:52:470:52:51

that show the evolution of Stonehenge.

0:52:510:52:53

All worthwhile stuff and a definite improvement,

0:52:530:52:58

but Simon tells me no day out is complete

0:52:580:53:01

without a trip to the gift shop.

0:53:010:53:03

Apparently, there are more than 700 items

0:53:040:53:07

of Stonehenge merchandising on sale.

0:53:070:53:10

Britain's national monument - made in China!

0:53:100:53:13

-This is the bestseller of all time.

-Is it?

0:53:160:53:18

The Stonehenge snow globe. People really, really like them.

0:53:180:53:21

Do you have a favourite?

0:53:210:53:23

I mean do you have any of..? Do you wear this at home?

0:53:230:53:26

I don't, but I think that's kind of all right, actually.

0:53:260:53:29

That one, I think I'd prefer to wear that one than the one that says,

0:53:290:53:32

"Stonehenge Rocks" which is another massive seller.

0:53:320:53:35

Does it risk slightly commercially exploiting the site? I mean...

0:53:350:53:38

Well, obviously, we want to make a profit but, equally,

0:53:380:53:41

an integral part of going to a monument or going out for the day

0:53:410:53:45

is buying a souvenir.

0:53:450:53:46

Look at how many people are in here now. It is pretty full.

0:53:460:53:49

After all, the tourists are as much as part of the story as the druids.

0:53:530:53:57

And that's the challenge.

0:53:570:54:00

English Heritage have a tough job trying to keep everybody happy.

0:54:000:54:04

And, despite all the teething problems and the disagreements,

0:54:090:54:12

the redevelopment is definitely making things better.

0:54:120:54:16

It's the evening before the spring equinox

0:54:190:54:22

and I've come to a few of these things now

0:54:220:54:24

and I can sense the site changing.

0:54:240:54:26

The road has been grassed over

0:54:260:54:28

and I feel like I'm getting much less distracted by the main road.

0:54:280:54:32

There's clearly a case for this place working its magic.

0:54:320:54:37

I think I'm falling for it.

0:54:370:54:39

# We are the seekers of space

0:54:450:54:48

# We've seen our master's face

0:54:480:54:50

# It's young and gold And silvery old

0:54:500:54:55

# We are the seekers of space. #

0:54:550:54:57

Morning, stones. Anyway, here we go. Gather in close, everyone.

0:55:060:55:11

Get yourselves all the way round in the circle, if you can.

0:55:110:55:14

This quarter could do with a few more.

0:55:140:55:17

'You know what? I'm really starting to enjoy this.

0:55:170:55:21

'So what if William Stukeley made the druids up?

0:55:210:55:24

'They're really at the heart of what Stonehenge has come to mean.

0:55:240:55:28

'It's a place where you can hope for a better future.'

0:55:280:55:31

I think the best we can do next then is welcome in the quarters.

0:55:310:55:36

-May there be peace in the east.

-ALL:

-May there be peace in the east.

0:55:360:55:42

Lovely. Ladies and gentlemen, most importantly of all,

0:55:420:55:45

may there be peace throughout the whole world.

0:55:450:55:48

ALL: May there be peace throughout the whole world.

0:55:480:55:51

-To live in peace.

-To live in peace.

0:55:510:55:54

But because we're also an ancient fertility religion,

0:55:550:55:58

to us the 'I' is a phallus, of the soul of god,

0:55:580:56:02

the 'A', the legs of the beautiful earth goddess

0:56:020:56:05

and the 'O' is the sound of a gorgeous cosmic lovemaking,

0:56:050:56:08

from whence we all proceed.

0:56:080:56:10

Cosmic lovemaking?

0:56:120:56:14

Well, I guess spring is a time for rebirth.

0:56:140:56:18

Speaking of which, Arthur is here with his loyal Arthurian war band,

0:56:180:56:23

leading the celebrations by the heel stone.

0:56:230:56:26

I wonder if he's feeling any more hopeful

0:56:260:56:28

for the relaunch of the site?

0:56:280:56:30

-How are you?

-I'm all right.

0:56:320:56:35

I mean, the main campaigns at the moment are to get the ancestors

0:56:350:56:39

-reburied here at Stonehenge.

-How's that going?

0:56:390:56:42

Erm...slowly.

0:56:420:56:44

And we're still in disagreement with English Heritage over that.

0:56:450:56:49

Well, they're still exhibiting the cremated, the remains, aren't they?

0:56:490:56:52

Yeah. So I'm here most days, up at the visitor centre,

0:56:520:56:55

picketing, gathering signatures.

0:56:550:56:57

I'm a regular pain in the neck, but I'll carry on doing it.

0:56:570:57:01

This is what I remember, when I met you last time.

0:57:010:57:04

It feels like there's a kind of streak to your character

0:57:040:57:06

-that relishes the challenge.

-Oh, yeah.

0:57:060:57:08

You want to take these people on.

0:57:080:57:10

I always say that I will fight for peace,

0:57:100:57:13

but if we ever get it, I'm out of here.

0:57:130:57:15

A real warrior.

0:57:150:57:18

I love the challenge, yeah.

0:57:180:57:20

I love the David and Goliath style.

0:57:200:57:22

I don't care how many they array against me.

0:57:220:57:25

-And you know what?

-Do they?

-Oh, yeah. I'll win in the end, I always do.

0:57:250:57:29

I wouldn't bet against him.

0:57:310:57:33

Arthur's even running for Parliament next year

0:57:330:57:36

as an independent candidate for Salisbury.

0:57:360:57:39

It's so tempting to think of Stonehenge as part of the landscape.

0:57:430:57:46

Almost like a natural feature

0:57:460:57:48

that feels like it's been here forever.

0:57:480:57:51

But the whole point of Stonehenge is that it's a man-made structure,

0:57:510:57:54

it was built with a purpose and, as a result, its meaning

0:57:540:57:57

derives from what we project onto it and have done for millennia.

0:57:570:58:01

I don't know what the future holds for Stonehenge but,

0:58:010:58:04

whatever it does, we all have a role to play,

0:58:040:58:07

because it's the people who keep coming here

0:58:070:58:10

who keep this place alive.

0:58:100:58:12

# I'm-a gonna talk with the elders

0:58:170:58:23

# And tell all of our hearts that she's good

0:58:230:58:28

# I love every dance with my baby

0:58:280:58:32

# By the light of a magical moon

0:58:340:58:38

# As I go along my way I say hey-hey

0:58:400:58:45

# As I go along my way I say hey-hey... #

0:58:470:58:52

Stonehenge is our most famous prehistoric monument; a powerful symbol of Britain across the globe. But all is not well with the sacred stones. MPs have described the surrounding site as a 'national disgrace' and 'shameful shambles'.

Now, after decades of disputes over what should be done, English Heritage has just 12 months to create a setting that this unique monument deserves. But Stonehenge is more than a tourist attraction; it is also a temple.

In this hour-long Culture Show special, Alastair Sooke shows that Stonehenge has long been a place of conflict and controversy, and that passions still run high at the monument where druids, archaeologists and scientists all battle for the soul of Stonehenge.