Stonehenge – Just Stop Oil protest

English Heritage is deeply saddened by the vandalism at Stonehenge yesterday. The ancient stones are a testament to the desire of people – from prehistoric times to today – to connect with nature, the earth, the sun and the moon, as well as crucially, each other. We can’t understand why anyone who professes to care for the environment would attempt to harm such a monument and to distress people from all over the world, including those for whom Stonehenge holds a spiritual significance.

Our experts have already removed the orange powder from the stones. We moved quickly due to the risk that the powder would harm the important and rare lichens growing on the stones and that if the powder came into contact with water, it would leave difficult-to-remove streaks. And while we are relieved that there appears to be no visible damage, the very act of removing the powder can – in itself – have a harmful impact by eroding the already fragile stone and damaging the lichens.

English Heritage relies on our members, visitors and donors to help us bear the costs of cleaning up such vandalism. However, as a charity we would much rather be spending our limited funds – and time – on essential conservation work across the 400 castles, abbeys, houses, and stone circles in our care as well as sharing with everyone more of those sites’ stories.

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Stonehenge remained open yesterday and our annual Summer Solstice celebrations will go ahead as usual from 7pm this evening (Thursday 20 June 2024). We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone – whether it’s in person at the stones or online via our live stream – to what should be a joyous and peaceful celebration of the changing seasons and human ingenuity.

Dr Nick Merriman OBE, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “Stonehenge is a unique place, one that has special meaning to many of us. Surely vandalising a landmark that celebrates the changing seasons, the importance of community, and sheer human ingenuity completely contradicts the protestors’ own principles.

“Thankfully, there appears to be no visible damage but that’s in no way saying there hasn’t been harm, from the very act of having to clean the stones to the distress caused to those for whom Stonehenge holds a spiritual significance.

“We are looking forward to welcoming people to our Summer Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge, whether that’s in person or online, for a joyous and peaceful occasion.”

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