Druid mounts challenge over Stonehenge’s ‘pay to pray’ rule
King Arthur Pendragon, above, has been told that he can take English Heritage (EH) to court over “pay to pray” parking charges at Stonehenge.
According to the BBC, he will argue that a parking fee of £15 for his motorcycle during the 2016 summer solstice breached his human and religious rights.
Parking at the Neolithic monument, managed by English Heritage (EH), usually costs £5. But an increased charge was introduced to encourage more people to car share or travel by bus.
A judge at Salisbury County Court granted Pendragon, 62, a full hearing at a small claims court.
Pendragon asked that the date for the full hearing does not clash with the spring or summer solstice.
The Guardian added this week that Pendragon – formerly John Rothwell – petitioned the court to revoke all fees, citing articles nine, 10, 11 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
This is not the first time the former Royal Hampshire Regiment parachutist has gone into battle for the liberty of the Henge. In the 90s, when English Heritage first brought in visitor charges, he campaigned for free access to the site, resulting in multiple trespass arrests.
More recently, he called for the immediate reburial of the cremated remains of about 40 bodies found at a nearby archaeological site. And he has repeatedly stood for election in Salisbury, on a platform of green-ish libertarianism.
Pendragon was a happily mortgaged family man before he began joining biker gangs in the 1970s, rising to the top of the Gravediggers. In 1986, after an encounter with a book of Arthurian legend, he realised the similarities between his own life story – squaddie, biker, property owner – and that of the mythic king and sword-puller were unmistakable and overwhelming.
Six weeks later, browsing local shops, he came across a copy of Excalibur that had been used in the 1981 film of the same name, and the deal was sealed.
The Loyal Arthurian Warband was formed not long after, managed from his council flat in Farnborough, Hampshire. In the ensuing years, he claims to have “knighted” many famous faces into his order, among them cage fighter and former Katie Price “squeeze” Alex Reid. He also co-wrote an autobiography in 2003, The Trials of Arthur.
Pendragon takes issue with suggestions that he might not be the reincarnation of the fifth-century king. The similarities are obvious, he said in 2014:
He rode around on a horse and fought people. I bang Druids’ heads together and fight English Heritage.