Above: Today is the Summer Solstice, which is the equilivent of Christmas for Pagans. More than 17,000 people were at Stonehenge to celebrate and there was just one arrest. It may not be perfect (bring back the Stonehenge Free Festival!), but what an improvement on 21 years ago, when nearly 600 people were arrested in the 'Battle of the Beanfield' which took place in Wiltshire near Stonehenge on June 1st 1985.
The battle started when hundreds of riot police attacked a 200 vehicle strong 'Peace Convoy' of 'hippie' buses and trucks, as it advanced through the Wilshire countryside towards Stonehenge which it intended to occupy for the annual 'Stone Henge Festival in defiance of a ban ordered by Maggie Thatcher the Tory Tyrant.
BEFORE GLASTONBURY WAS ASCOT
Way before 'Glastonbury Festival' was the 'New Ascot' (and before there were more 'Class A' drugs at Ascot than at Glastonbury), there was the 'Stonehenge People's Free Festival' which went on for at least a month - or longer if you had done enough acid.
And before Stonehenge there was the 'Windsor People's Free Festival' (pictured above) but that got smashed up in 1974 by 600 riot police attacking at dawn.
Despite endless harrasment, by 1984 the Stonehenge Festival had developed into a massive annual event with dozens of stages attended by over 100,000 people.
Seeing it was getting way more popular than 'Songs of Praise' and possibly even Christmas, the Cromwellian minded Maggie Thatcher had the pagan Summer Solstice festival banned; Stonehenge was surrounded with barbed wire and cops - even the Druids were banned.
SMASH THE CONVOY
It was the 'Dark Ages' of Thatcherism; even the weather was worse when she was in power, and Britain was a virtual police state. In fact the police were virtually the army having been used as such to destroy the miners, who had lost the plot after being appallingly led by Auther Scargill.
Thatcher was inspired by her personal friend President Pinochet of Chile who invented the 'dissappearing dissident' policy which involved throwing people who wanted a National Health Service out of helicopers over the sea.
Thatcher even had the Metropolitan Police doing exercises which involved driving round London in trucks practicing the mass arrest of leftwing dissidents and opening up prison camps in Norfolk!
Having smashed the miners, Thatcher turned to what she saw as the next greatest threat to Toryism and Handbag Economics - the hippies! The order went out from No 10 Frowning Street - "Get the Convoy".
The 'Convoy' was a fantastic collection of old buses and trucks which went from festival to festival having fun and sex in fields. It was 'raves' before raves existed. It grew, and grew and grew into what became known as the 'Peace Convoy'. The Peace Convoy was second only to the British Army in its ability to 'take' any part of the country it wished, for increasingly massive and debauched festivals. It was every parents nightmare, a Daily Mail vision of the Apocalypse, and Thatcher, by now a confirmed alcoholic decided to get the "druggies."
(Ironically in doing this Thatcher created the 'Brew Crew' and the 'Crusties' who favoured mixing 'Special Brew' and barbiturates and not washing ever, but that is another story).
ATROCITY MOST FOUL
So it was that on June 1st 1985 that the police viciously attacked the convoy as it approached Stonehenge, forcing it into a beanfield and smashing up the vehicles, arresting 537 people, dragging pregnent women and children through broken windows and by the hair, and killing their animals. It was lucky no humans were killed.
This was an atrocity; Lord Cardigan, who witnessed the attack was so shocked he wrote to the Daily Telegraph and bravely prevented the whole thing being covered up. ITN News got footage but it was censored.
LEAST WE FORGET
schmoo was there - that is why we say - "Lords and even cops can be OK - But Never Trust A Tory Thatcherite"
• Recommended further reading: 'The Battle of the Beanfield' edited by Andy Worthington.
• Windsor Free Festival Archive
Other links: Willy X - The Stonehenge Campaign - Stonehenge Archive
- summer solstice - stonehenge