(report from SchNEWS 217, 25th June 1999)
"Excuse me, Mr.Policeman, why are you in riot gear, guarding a load ofold stones."
Down came the fence, and in poured the people, heading for the five thousand year old Stone circle. It was nearly two hours before the Cavalry started clearing people out. Private security swung punches and cops dragged people away while all the time a helicopter with spotlight buzzed nosily overhead. Next from the darkness came the riot cops, dog-handlers and the horses, their heads flashing with red-lights, pushing people back out over the fence.
The next few hours were a surreal stand-off as the sunrise began in earnest. Every now and then someone made a dash for it, there was the obligatory naked protest, while others who had managed to clamber onto the relative safety of the stones were joined by people who had been given tickets by English Heritage. About 500 people had gathered now, watching through the lines of riot cops as the sun began its spectacular sun-rise. With the 4 mile Exclusion Zone recently ruled illegal in the High Court, this was the nearest most people had got in years.
Stonehenge means a lot of different things to a lot of people. To some it is a spiritual home - so imagine if you can, being at a church service, surrounded by riot police who every now and then throw someone out who hasn't got a 'ticket'. To others it has been the scene of so many broken bones, arrests and trashed vehicles as the authorities put their foot down hard on the free festival scene.
The next night people again headed for the Stones, but this time even the ticket-holders were banned by English Heritage. As one veteran put it "You don't stop the whole football season because of a twenty minute pitch invasion."