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Druid mounts challenge over Stonehenge’s ‘pay to pray’ rule

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.

Druids and pagans gathered to support Pendragon at the preliminary court hearing

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.

14 responses to “Druid mounts challenge over Stonehenge’s ‘pay to pray’ rule”

  1. Paul says:

    I have to agree with him – £15 to park a bike is scandalous.

  2. L.Long says:

    I know drop ALL special privileges to ALL religions and treat them all as private clubs, and tax the crap out of them!!!!

  3. Feddie says:

    “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”.

    Yeah! Right! Brazen bare faced profittering actually.

  4. Angela_K says:

    I’ve met this guy, he is quite laugh and doesn’t seem the type to take things too seriously. I suspect like me he is outraged that E.H. charge £15 to park a motorcycle. I saw Arthur “knight” Ozzy Osborne and his son on the side of Glastonbury Tor – they had a film crew with them. BTW both Severn crossings are free for motorcycles as are some other toll bridges.

  5. AgentCormac says:

    What a ridiculous waste of tax payers’ money. (Bloody hell, I’m beginning to sound like a Daily Hate Mail reader!!!)

  6. Broga says:

    @Angela: The Severn Bridge toll is to be reduced to £3 for a car.

    This man is definitely a reincarnation of Arthur. The similarities are so obvious e.g. motor bike equals a horse. You know it makes sense.

  7. Steve says:

    I don’t think religions should get special treatment, but I also don’t think historical sites should charge for entry.

  8. King Arthur Pendragon resembles Queen Guinevere rather than Le Roi Arthus, if I may be candid. He reminds me of a prancing elf I once saw frolicking in a sylvan Fairy Grove rather than the mighty Brittonic Chieftain he purports to be. He is more a Tinkerbell than a wise old Druid. And as for the Greens, all they’re good for is dancing naked in the woods to the beat of a drum, and can in no way be described as ‘libertarian’. By the way, is it true that Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett were once seen performing a nude pagan dance at Stonehenge one winter solstice, golden diadems resting upon their heads and mistletoe entwined in their hair? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

  9. John C says:

    £15 is ridiculous, as to religious rights, bollocks, its a historical site,They are ripping people off to see the national heritage.I hope this case does not earn exemptions for the religious and not the general public, Either a fair price for all or a rip off for all and everyone avoids the place .I accept a payment to help the upkeep, but we are not funding a rebuild of the place in gold bricks.

  10. Paul says:

    Actually the stones at Stonehenge aren’t real – the real ones are in the Bank of England for safe keeping.

  11. barriejohn says:

    The Druids at Stonehenge aren’t real!

  12. gedediah says:

    This guy is a national treasure. I’d rather see him in the House of Lords than any of the CofE bishops. He looks way cooler too.

  13. John says:

    Parking regulations almost everywhere are not applied on Sundays, due to the influence of the church lobby.
    If pagans want to “worship” at their “church” (Stonehenge) why should they have to pay for the privilege?
    As it is, they (the pagans) do not insist on weekly rituals.

  14. Matthew Carr says:

    I feel sorry for the guy behind him knocking coconut halves together. Nobody mentions him.