Top NewsStonehenge covered in powder paint by Just Stop Oil protesters

Stonehenge covered in powder paint by Just Stop Oil protesters

image source, Just Stop Oil

image caption, The move comes a day before the summer solstice celebrations begin at the site

  • author, Le Boupier
  • stock, BBC News, West of England

A section of Stonehenge was painted with orange powder paint by protesters.

Two Just Stop Oil campaigners spray-painted the historic site near Salisbury, Wiltshire at 12:00pm BST on Wednesday.

The move has been taken a day before the celebrations begin to the summer solstice at the 5,000-year-old landmark.

Wiltshire Police have confirmed that two men have been arrested on suspicion of vandalizing an ancient monument.

Just Stop Oil said the orange powder paint was cornflour and would “wash off in the rain.”

The group named the two protesters in a statement as 21-year-old student Niamh Lynch from Oxford and 73-year-old Rajan Naidu from Birmingham.

‘Very sad’

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the incident as a “disgraceful act of humiliation”.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer described the damage as “horrendous” and Just Stop Oil as “pathetic”.

As campaigners raced up to the Stone Circle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the public was heard chanting “No” and rushed to intervene.

A spokesman for English Heritage described the spattering of the monument as “deeply distressing” and confirmed the site was open to the public.

He said the incident would not affect the annual summer solstice, with celebrations scheduled to take place overnight on Thursday.

image source, Just Stop Oil

image caption, Two protesters spray powder paint on Stonehenge

He said many of the tourists visiting the memorial were “a bit giddy”.

“Stonehenge managers and security guards stand on the path,” he said.

“It’s powder paint and since the weather is dry and sunny, it can be removed without lasting damage, but I’ve heard one suggestion that they need experts to inspect the stone before they form an opinion.”

Just Stop Oil said the motivation behind the incident was to call on the next UK government to stop extracting and burning oil, gas and coal by 2030.

A spokesman for the group said: “Continued burning of coal, oil and gas will result in the deaths of millions.”

“We must unite to protect humanity or risk everything.”

image caption, Police confirmed two arrests

Mike Pitts, archaeologist and author of How to Build Stonehenge, said the incident was “deeply disturbing”.

He said: “The monument has been fenced off for decades and the surfaces of the megaliths are protected.

“They are sensitive and they are completely covered in prehistoric markings that need to be thoroughly examined and any surface damage to the stones is very important.

“A rich garden of life has grown in the megaliths, an exceptional garden of lichens. So this is of great concern.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “We responded to a report that orange paint had been sprayed on some stones by two suspicious individuals.

“Our inquiries are ongoing and we are working closely with English Heritage.”

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