TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR STONEHENGE
CHAIR'S REPORT JANUARY 2000
PROGRESS REPORT FOR JUNE 1998 - JANUARY 2000
The TRCS is a joint project of the Multifaith and Multicultural Mediation Service of the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy (an institute for peace education which began it's life as part of the University of London and is now part of The Green University) and Pagan and Druid Rights and Services (PADRAS) known also as "The Stonehenge Peace Process". It has now held twelve meetings since it was launched on June 1 1998. We have been discussing how Stonehenge can be made available again to members of the spiritual and religious pagan community as a landscape temple for their open access use, whilst at the same time allowing tourists and other secular users to continue to have access. The TRCS is an open forum to enable all members of the community to come together to hear their diverse needs, opinions, stories and visions for the future. Much conflict has taken place around Stonehenge in recent history, most notoriously in 1994, when several hundred pilgrim people had their vans destroyed by unprovoked police actions, which have still not received a proper inquiry or apology. Stonehenge tends to act as a focus for peace loving alternative cultures from across the world, and stands as the most important prehistoric temple in Europe and among the most important sacred sites in the world. At stake then are many subtle and complex issues: who owns the past ? What were the beliefs of pagan cultures ? Do they still have relevance today or are they totally outmoded ? What is the sacred ? What rights should people of today's generation have to gain access to sacred sites handed down from remote antiquity ? Who owns sacred heritage sites ? Governments or government quangos and tourist organisations or spiritual and religious groups ? How can the needs of everyone in the community be balanced and catered for ? All these complex issue among others have been raised during the course of these meetings, which have taken place as the following report and summary of their deliberations indicates.
The TRC for Stonehenge is conceived as part of a wider Truth and Reconciliation Commission International (TRCI) which will examine evidence and organised hearings on different aspects of peacemaking and reconciliation concerning international truth and justice matters as a whole, including: challenging corruption in the political and legal process; suppression of information regarding environmental issues; the role of organised finance and the arms trade; organised crime and its links to violence; the question of religious freedom and rights internationally whole, including the rights of pagan and primal religious believers, and practitioners of indigenous pagan religions; regional conflict resolution in situations such as the Balkans conflicts; resolving the conflicts in Chechenya, solving terrorist and ethnic conflicts, and other problems affecting peace in general. TRCI has grown out of several years of international peacemaking and mediation work undertaken by the MMMS.
We believe that this international dimension is also important to the work of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Stonehenge since many of the issues raised by the complex management and user needs at Stonehenge are raised in other sacred sites worldwide. Different cultures deal with their prehistoric temples, and the needs and rights of pagan and primal religious groups in different ways according to their varying cultural and political contexts. We believe that the various communities interested in the Stonehenge and Avebury complex can benefit from studying these differences and similarities. Many questions are raised by the Stonehenge issue and its international context: the whole question of how we relate to our environment, the dimension of the sacred in our lives, our relationship to nature, the tension between commercial pressures and the call of the sacred; tourism and perennial values; attitudes to ancient pagan sanctuaries and pagan wisdom by contemporary generations; the role of professional archaeologists in defining the perception of heritage; government control and management of sacred monument; the role of UNESCO in monitoring its World Heritage Sites.
At the dawn of a new Millennium, the TRCS is mindful that at least some 10 millennia have now passed since the first inhabitants of these islands began to built the first structures in the region of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain. Our hope is to build forward working in partnership with all those who know and love the Stonehenge monument, and move towards a shared future in which the beauty and vision bequeathed to us by the ancestors can be appreciated and sensed by many generations to come in a spirit of peacefulness, reverence, inquiry and reconciliation.
Our vision is that the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site should give birth to an International Museum of Reconciliation, either as part of the proposed Visitor Centre or at a separate location in the region, in which the successful non-violent resolution of conflicts can be documented and recorded; in which the history of the sad conflicts around Stonehenge can be recounted and hopefully their successful resolution can also be set forth. We envisage this as much more than simply a tourist attraction, and rather as a long term, organically evolving, educational resource for the locality and for the international community at large. We would particularly focus in the Museum of Reconciliation on the successful resolution of conflicts involving religious or spiritual differences, especially those in which here are pagan and primal peoples involved. The Museum would also carry information on British Pagan and Druid history and their understanding of the importance of Stonehenge and Avebury. Stonehenge is a symbol of worldwide significance. the TRCS is committed to contributing, alongside other bodies, to ensuring that it comes to be an enduring symbol standing for wisdom, peace and spirituality: the eternal message bequeathed across the generations by such sacred sanctuaries worldwide.
REPORT ON TRC MEETINGS 1998-1999
October 31st 1997 - This first event was in fact a celebratory ritual peace gathering at Stonehenge, organised by PADRAS, and consisted of a ritual at Halloween on the theme of "Remembering The Ancestors" with Margot Daru Elliot, 53 people, Sarah, Sue, Carl, Francis Maynard, Kevin, Colin Newsome, Rachel, Angie, Marion, Hawk, Monica Sjoo, Denny, Tim, Donna, Erika, Thomas and George.
TRC 1 - June 1st 1998 - This was the launch meeting of the TRC - a recording on audio tape exists; a comprehensive discussion took place with many key players involved in the Stonehenge peace process; David Penny's Prayer for Peace was tabled along with many other documents. We also hold a peace ceremony also in Stonehenge later that afternoon by prior arrangement with English Heritage.
June 20th 1998 - PADRAS Special Access evening ceremony - This was a further special ritual event which saw approximately 50 people again gathering at the stones, drawing largely from the list of those who attended at Samhain. Some visitors came from as far afield as the USA and Australia.
TRC 2 - July 17th 1998 - at Enford, near Stonehenge, Wiltshire - This second meeting of the TRC saw a good group gather for intensive discussion of the issues, including: GF, TCD, Geoff Wright, Brian Bourne, Chris Hogan (from Australia), Kathleen Ben Rabha, Caroline Little, Gillian Bradbury, Martin Mottram, Rick Smith, Nora Morris, Lydia, Pauline, Helga Neekass; Richard Banbury; Leslie and Len Smith, Eddie Smith, Gabby Attwood, Tim Abbot; Kim Paine; Julie, Niki Young, Pat Robinson etc. - a general discussion took place about the TRC process, George asked about views on future for TRC; Chris suggested using a futures search process (Tavistock Institute) and conflict mapping; Thomas raised the problem about power disparities between power holders and the dispossessed; Chris Hogan said police were involved and therefore needed to be present; Kathleen said we should look backwards before we can move forward and understand the lessons of the past - there has to be tolerance building; Robin said forget the past and move forward; Thomas spoke about his work in peace studies and his view that there was a lack of awareness about pagan rights in UK even within the interfaith movement; Thomas drew attention to items for the agenda based on a previous document; discussion about Arthur's role in the peace process, also about the deed of gift; GF had taken EH to court and it had been ruled on in the Court of Appeal; Gabby suggested there should be guardians of the stones with local knowledge; Nora said Stonehenge was part of a world heritage sight including Avebury - Chris mentioned Ayers Rock as a parallel case which has now appointed aboriginal guardians; George said groups can go in to the stones if only they fill in the right forms - but Summer solstice remains a real problem; Katherine pointed out that EH want to market Stonehenge's spirituality; Martin reported that Salisbury Cathedral is marketed successfully - the meeting discussed the commercialisation of Stonehenge and various views were put forward; Tim Abbot mentioned the Big Green Gathering and discussion took place about the role of the local press and whether there could be more media coverage - a discussion also took place about the use of drugs -some felt this was a subject appropriate for the TRC and others not; Nora wanted to explore the international dimension and agreed to liaise with Zones of Peace International Foundation; we undertook to apply for special access for August 8 (Lammas moon); we also discussed the possibilities of music events at Stonehenge; there are various handwritten accounts of this meeting eg by TCD and Martin Mottram.
August 8th 1998 - Woodhenge peace ritual full moon group met at Woodhenge.
TRC 3 - September 5th 1998 - Enford, near Stonehenge, Wiltshire - Nora Morris, GF, Gilly Bradbury, Martin Mottram, Olwen (Caroline Little), Ishtar Adler, Hawk, Kreb Dragonrider, Tim Abbot, Geoff Wright, TCD. - tape audio with GF
September 20th 1998 - small meeting in stones organised by Nora & Olwen
TRC 4 - October 17th 1998 - Britford, near Stonehenge, Wiltshire - GF, (Thomas Daffern in Cumbria) Andy Hollingshead, Gillian Bradbury, Nora Morris, Tim Abbot, Arthur; the meeting discussed the nature of Druidry and the existence of various Druid Orders; Tim Abbot shared a letter Rollo had written to the Prime Minister which seemed to be bringing Irish matters in to the Stonehenge situation; there was later a discussion about future solstice arrangements and Tim Abbot and Andy Hollingshead, Arthur Pendragon all contributed. (we have some written minutes of part of this)an audio tape with GF of poor quality
TRC 5 - November 28th 1998 - Britford; present: George Firsoff, Tim Abbot, Paul Aitken, Gillian Bradbury, Nora Morris, Peggy, Caroline, Sylvia (LAW), (apologies from TCD - Martin had flu, apologies from Tony Kempster) Discussions took place about agreed access proposal for June 1999 following the Roundtable Meeting with EH on 24 Nov; George spoke about the Stonehenge Peace Procession on evening of June 21; George announced the Dragon camp of 25 April - Tim spoke about an article in a national newspaper in which P. Chalk, Tory leader of Wiltshire County Council expressed fears about the old problems of new age travellers returning if the government rescinded the exclusion zone; Tim Abbot also spoke about Wally Hope having been sectioned at The Old Manor Hospital - he spoke of him as an eccentric and colourful personality -he made available an open letter written by Mickey James; Tim also mentioned Rollo's letter to the Prime Minister complaining about David Loxley; GF had also written to the Prime Minister and was told you would receive a reply from the Home Office; Nora had written to the Minister of Culture Media and Sport; George spoke about attitudes changing over the years; Paul said there should be free public access; the Druid Order seems to have had access over the solstice period - all agreed they wanted the exclusion order to end; restrictions are difficult to manage; Tim said "whilst the threat still remains" is the term used by the authorities; police intelligence is used to decide whether there is to be an exclusion - this is at about February - Tim said we need to raise the confidence of the establishment so there will be no fear of disorder;
TRC 6 - January 23rd 1999, Britford (master video starring Mickey James), Arthur, Nora, Martin, Adrian and Mrs Tibbets, difficulties in meetings and formats, GF, confidential tape document
TRC 7 - March 6th 1999 - Shrewton, Near Stonehenge - The Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Stonehenge, a project for the Institute, has just completed its successful 7th meeting at Shrewton near to Stonehenge, on March 6 1999, in which we discussed the whole complex issue around the history of restricted access to Stonehenge on the part of Druid and pagan religious groups seeking access for religious ceremonies. Our 7th meeting brought together local Wiltshire, residents, the head of the South Wiltshire Constabulary police force (Superintendent Andy Hollingshead) the Manager of the Stonehenge monument (Clews Everard), the Stonehenge officer of the Council of British Druid Orders (Rollo Maughling, Archdruid of Glastonbury), George Firsoff (Secretary, TRC), Tim Abbot (former Mayor of Wilton), Anne Waterhouse (Chair, the Big Green Gathering) and others. Chaired by Thomas Daffern, the meeting saw a very useful and informative discussion about all aspects of ensuring that Stonehenge is more accessible to all interested parties, without intimidation from police, restrictions and so on. Several people present reported cases if severe personal injustice suffered in the past from heavy handed policing incidents, in which they were arrested and held in jails for doing no more than peaceful trying to assert their religious rights. The meeting discussed last weeks ruling by the Law Lords that ordinary people most certainly do have a guaranteed right to public protects along the highway, after a case involving Draconian policing styles had been taken to the highest court in the British legal system (The House of Lords). All parties agreed the meeting had sketched out a way forward to ensure future dialogue and a spirit of openness on the part of all parties involved. Technically, Stonehenge as monument was bequeathed to the British nation in the 1920's in perpetuity, and is simply managed by English Heritage, a quango set up by the Conservative government, and ultimately answerable to the British people through the democratic process. The meeting began and ended with a few moments meditation, and led to a much greater understanding on the part of all those in attendance of the need to ensure that the rights of indigenous religious worshippers are respected at sacred sites around the planet, since the Stonehenge case has implications of the rights of indigenous spiritual worshippers at other such sacred sites around the globe, including native American, Australian Aboriginal etc. one result of the meeting was the establishment of a new Stonehenge Research Network to bring together scholars and mystics an, archaeologists and academics interested in all aspect of the history and purpose and future of Stonehenge, and other similar sites around the planet. A recent site, for example, has been discovered in Miami, Florida, consisting of a circle of sunken stone cavities hollowed out of rock, which was created by the Indian native peoples of the region many hundreds of years before Europeans came to North America. This site is sometimes referred to as the Stonehenge of North America.
There were indeed some excellent moments and contributions and ideas played with - and Clews came, and Andy Hollingshead, and I made the point about the festival and music rights and everyone got a fair bat - and I even suggested a Stonehenge cricket match to Andy... . I also wrote up a report on the TRC and sent it out to Richard Skeie as IIPSGP member We also discussed the ruling by Lord Irvine that the right to peaceful protest on the Kings Highway is guaranteed by law
April - Dragon camp at Tim's - 26 people in Stones
TRC 8 - May 8th 1999 - Shrewton, Near Stonehenge; Xia Lane, Jenny Wheatcroft, (Tape available) (minutes missing) - looking ahead to the Summer solstice - no EH/Police - filmed by Andy Pulham
TRC 9 - July 10th 1999 - Shrewton - Retrospective investigation of the events surrounding the debacle at the Summer Solstice of 21 June previously (Video tape available): Clews Everard, Andy Hollingshead, Arthur Pendragon, TCD and GF, Tim Abbot, Rollo Maughling, Chris Hogan, Nora, Solstice Report,
June 21st 1999 - evening gathering - we met Woodhenge and then processed to Stonehenge - access to the actual stones was disallowed in spite of telephone calls by TCD to Clews and to EH headquarters, where he spoke with Jocelyn Stevens PA (but was refused from speaking direct with JS) - approx 100 people gathered for the procession and for a midsummer peace ritual in the space across the road from the stones. A video recording was made of this ceremony by Krystyna Stevenson.
TRC 10 - September 18th 1999 Britford (master audio tapes with GF)
October 24th 1999 - Hunters moon - Stonehenge ceremony - TCD absent abroad; GF present and a group processed in spite of raining and stormy weather; free entry to the stones was arranged in order to compensate for the midsummer debacle
TRC 11 - November 15th 1999 Shrewton. - No EH and Police - Hawk, Arthur, GF, Tim, TCD, (master audio tape with GF), Kathleen Ben Rabbha, Martin Mottram, Adrian Tibbits.
TRC 12 - January 15th 2000 Shrewton - Attended by TCD, GF, Rollo Maughling, Nora Morris, Veronica Hammond, Viziondance (Brian Feltzer), Cary le Fey (representing LAW and Arthur Pendragon), Roy Gillett (president, Astrological Association), Adrian Tibbets (Local resident), Paul Aitken (Stonehenge Peace activist and former representative of the Stonehenge Campaign) An excellent discussion was held concerning all aspects of the current situation, under the following headings: Secretary's report; Chairman's Report; Treasurer's Report (in absentia); Proposed Visitor Centre, Summer Solstice Celebration plans for 2000; English Heritage policy - here Adrian Tibbets tabled a letter he had received from English Heritage explaining exactly the legal basis of their claim to manage the monument, which stated: "English Heritage was established by act of Parliament, Section 32 of the National Heritage Act 1983, on 1st April 1984, Under Section 34 of the 1983 Act the Secretary of State may direct English Heritage to exercise his functions of management in respect of any ancient monument situated in England. The Secretary of State has made a direction under this section in relation to Stonehenge, and therefore it is English Heritage's responsibility to manage Stonehenge." The letter was signed by Caroline Hoare as Legal Adviser to English Heritage. Adrian explained that he only managed to get this formal reply from them after some considerable grief spent on the telephone dealing with arrogant underlings. We then heard from COBDO and Rollo Maughling as Stonehenge Officer - which caused a certain amount of friction as George Firsoff and Rollo appear to differ on the details of what sorts of ceremonies ought to take place at Stonehenge, and also what are the claims of Druidry specifically in regard to Stonehenge and what are the rights of other religious parties (eg. as defined by Firsoff as pagans generally). George Firsoff stated he was interested in magical access to Stonehenge for ceremonies. He felt Rollo was interrupting him, and recourse was had to the talking stick to enable them both to ventilate their feelings - which appeared to run deep on both sides. The whole question of whether Rollo is or is not Archdruid of Stonehenge was again brought up and opinions differed around the room on this matter.
We then discussed the National Dimensions of TRC's work (here we discussed the proposed Asha Multifaith Centre in London and the recent meeting of Faiths in Parliament with Chris Smith and Tony Blair, 3 January, The Royal Gallery, Palace of Westminster (and the fact that nobody had been invited from the Druid or Pagan Communities - it was agreed that this was partly their fault as COBDO/PADRAS had not applied to join the Interfaith Network or WCRP); International Dimensions of TRC's work (here we discussed the campaign of Arundhati Roy in the Narmada Valley in India and the overlap with our own work on Salisbury Plain). After the meeting some of participants repaired to George Hotel in Amesbury and carried on for informal discussions, being shown round the premises. This used to be the Pilgrim Hostelry attached to Amesbury Abbey - to which according to tradition Queen Guinevere retired. The new landlord of the George agreed to host the next meeting of the TRC in March 2000.
These meetings have included representatives of the local community, pagan groups, Druids, Wiccans, Shamans, Christians, Buddhists, English Heritage, the Wiltshire Police, the Stonehenge Campaign, and members of the general public. Many friends connected with the Green University have been involved with these meetings, including some from abroad such as Chris Hogan from Australia and Suzanne Bowers from California. They have seen some useful and significant discussions about many of the issues involved in the long term and short term reconciliation of conflicting visions for Stonehenge. Help is needed with fundraising to enable the meetings to continue and to permit a proper write up of what has been achieved so far. Negotiations are continuing for an open access event of worship at the Summer Solstice 2000 and the TRC is involved with this. there is also a Stonehenge Management Plan which has been put forward by English Heritage for Stonehenge but as a statement prepared at TRC 11 made plain, this management plan is inadequate in our opinion for not including the religious aspects of this ancient sacred site and not giving any thought to how the needs of pilgrims may be taken into account. It is also hoped in time among some members of the TRC to open a Stonehenge Peace Museum nearby to Stonehenge. It is understood that a new Visitor Centre is to be opened near to the Countess Roundabout in due course. This may include some kind of "Virtual Stonehenge" and a reconstruction and simulation of life at the time the monument was in full ritual use. Concerns have been expressed that no responsible Druids, Pagans or other spiritual representatives have been properly and democratically consulted on the content of such a Visitor Centre. The TRC takes the view that if such a Visitor Centre is to be accepted as legitimate by the Pagan and Druid Community there will have to be proper discussion and consultation about its content and modes of functioning, whoever is awarded the contract. We furthermore take the view that English Heritage ought to have involved the Pagan and Druid community more in the planning process towards the Visitor Centre and also in setting the selection criteria for deciding about which bid to award the contract to. We would also request that the Stonehenge Peace Museum be accommodated within the new Visitor Centre but managed separately by a Board of Pagan and Druid elders.
There have been a series of parallel Roundtables to the meetings of the TRC organised under the aegis of EH and chaired by Clews Everard, and held in Amesbury. To our knowledge there are no minutes or agendas to these meetings. Attendance is not open to the public but to a small group selected by EH. There is however a considerable overlap between the work of the TRC and this Roundtable and several people who attended the TRC have also attended regularly the EH Roundtable. There seems to be no available public report or minutes of these Roundtable meetings, unlike the TRC Hearings which are intended as a work of lasting and open public record. This reflects something of the style of working of EH, with its concern for secrecy, confidentiality, almost in the manner of a competitive private corporation with a monopoly of certain "trade secrets", answerable only to a body of appointed Commissioners, rather than functioning as a public body, elected and answerable to the public at large through direct democratic process. These are substantial issues which the TRC will need to address in its future workings, and which raise wider constitutional and political questions concerning how Britain's Heritage is being managed, according to which criteria, and whether the need for a balance between commercial interests and spiritual interests is at all acknowledged by the current EH officers and Commissioners. Nothing of the above however is meant to detract from the good working relations which have been achieved between the TRC and Clews Everard, the local manager of EH at Stonehenge.
To sum up - much has been accomplished - 12 successful meetings in which many points of value have been made. But much remains to be done. A genuine long terms peace settlement around the whole issue of Stonehenge access and use, according to the terms of the deed of Gift of Cecil Chubb, and an official apology for the heavy policing tactics of the 1980's (at a time when it now transpires to give just one example that the British Government under Margaret Thatcher was sanctioning the SAS in training units of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge in Thailand) remains still unforthcoming. This is why the TRCS will continue to develop its work alongside the work of TRCI. The true story of the British government's policies on security, on peace policy and on ethics and interfaith harmony in the 1980's and 1990's remains to be further explored, within both the national and international context. The TRCS will continue to perform its work, examining the Stonehenge issue as a microcosm issue of social and religious justice, alongside the wider concerns of TRCI.
N.B. Since this is a draft report, please submit any comments, amendments, additions based on personal memory or records, to the editor/author, Dr. Thomas Daffern (Chair, TRCS). Thanks are due to everyone who has attended these TRCS meetings to date and who have helped in and way to move this project on further.
Supplementary evidence also exists: eg. tape interview with Mickey James in London and much further documentation, letters, details minutes, reports etc.
NOTES:1. According to Tim Sebastien of the Secular Order of Druids, the Law of Molmutius (a King of Ancient Britain, pre Roman) - said "sacred places are free of access at all time like rivers and highways" Anyone with knowledge of Ancient British law is invied to please confirm the details of this statement.
TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR STONEHENGE Chair, Dr. Thomas C. Daffern, 4 Woollas Hall, Bredon Hill, Near Pershore, Worcestershire, WR10 3DN, U.K. Tel / Fax. 01386 750965; email: email@example.com or c/o: Institute for Historical Research, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
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