Seventies Solstice

The first Stonehenge Free Festival 1974 © Austin Underwood from BBC siteHappy Solstice everyone. Have some pics of the hippies at Stonehenge in the Seventies. 1974 saw the first free festival at Stonehenge (in the modern era, who knows what the ancients did?). Up to then there had been much appropriating from various movements.

By 1984 this had become a major event, with 70,000 people attending it was the largest free festival in Britain. See the artefacts on Wasn’t life wonderful before our first religion’s place of worship was turned into a theme park for tourists? (in case anyone didn’t get the irony there, I am saying it is probably the same thing but maybe without the audio tour.)

Stone Henge Camp, from siteThe free love and stone-hugging of the Seventies had to change however, and Mrs Thatcher was quoted as being ‘delighted to make life difficult for hippy convoys’. It was always political to choose a happy life and enjoy sitting in the sun rather than wearing a suit and going to work. But it became more than politically subversive, it was seen by the new government as a dangerous infiltration which should be stamped out quickly before it caused the end of civilisation as we know it.

Barbed wire and the stones at dawn 1980 Photo © Guy Rowe from

In 1985 the festival was stopped and the hippies beaten up by police, who had been practicing on striking miners so were quite adept at brutality. This became known as ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’. This was an ambush but not totally isolated, as there had been increasing resistance to hippie gatherings, including barbed wire around the Henge in 1980. See the BBC article and video, it’s scary stuff. But then we all knew that the police hated the hippies. Too much freedom and not enough towing the line.

Obelix, from the Asterix booksI was fascinated by standing stones as a child. We had a monument on the hill near where we lived, but it was a modern standing stone, not an ancient one. I loved Obelix and his carrying menhirs around.

I used to build mini Stonehenges (still do) but never visited Stonehenge until the late eighties. I did manage to get in there with a group of others at the autumn equinox but we were chased off by the police. Sucks.

Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room


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