Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Druid King Arthur and the quest for the ancient bones

Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon's second legal bid to get ancient bones found at Stonehenge reburied may have been unsuccessful, but he tells Katie Razzall he will fight on.

Surprisingly perhaps, today wasn't the first time King Arthur Pendragon had addressed a judge at London's High Court but it was the first time I'd seen him do it.
Dressed in white flowing robes, with a tidy grey beard and shoulder-length hair, the Battle Chieftan of the Council of British Druids told Court 27 the Government was being "duplicitous" over the fate of 3000-year old human remains exhumed at Stonehenge in 2008.
The ancient dead are due as much respect as the recent deadKing Arthur Pendragon
The case seemed to be about who said what when and to whom, and the arcane nature of Britain's Burial Act of 1857.
I found my mind wandering to whether he wears his marvellous outfit to work or is being Britain's most senior Druid work enough for any man? (It turns out - after a quick bit on online research - it is).
The Druids are furious that the cremated remains of more than 40 bodies, removed from a burial site at the ancient stone circle 5 years ago, may never be re-buried.
Druids believe they could be the remains of the "founding fathers of this very nation". King Arthur Pendragon - or KAP in my notebook - says they might be members of the "royal line or priest caste".
"The ancient dead are due as much respect as the recent dead," he told me.
Respect was due to the King himself today, for appearing on behalf of the remains in front of a judge, without legal representation. But he's used to that. He already lost a High Court bid to have the bones reburied in 2011.

Bones 'on licence'

The Druids argue the law says the remains are only out "on licence". The bones were excavated from one of the Aubrey holes at Stonehenge by Professor Mike Parker Pearson.
The judge ruled against them in their latest legal effort today, but outside court a group of self-dubbed "Loyal Arthurian Warriors", looking part crusader part Gandalf, cheered on the King as he emerged, vowing to fight on.
"We want the Guardians back in the ground, where they belong", he told me. "Let those we lay to rest, stay to rest."
What I wanted to know was how you get to be King Arthur Pendragon. Election is the answer. By a number of arch druids, the King says.
And a little deedpoll change - KAP changed his name from John Rothwell after reading a book about the legendary King and reportedly being astonished at the similarities between them, I wish I'd asked him what they were now.

Artcle by: Katie Razzall Reporter
Channel 4:

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Thursday, 9 May 2013

King Arthur Pendragon, Druid Leader, Objects To Display Of Human Remains At Stonehenge

A druid leader, who changed his name by deed poll to King Arthur Pendragon, has criticised Stonehenge for "macabre" plans to put real human remains on display.

King Arthur, who styles himself the Battle Chieftain of the Council of British Druid Orders and
Druid King Arthur Pendragon conducts a
ceremony at Priory Crescent, Southend
Titular Head and Chosen Chief of the Loyal Arthurian Warband Druid order, has sent a stern letter of criticism to English Heritage over the plans.

The cremated remains of more than 40 bodies, thought to be at least 5,000 years old, were removed from a burial site at the ancient stone circle five years ago.

In 2011, King Arthur lost a High Court legal battle to have bones, which were discovered in 2008, returned to their original resting place at the popular Wiltshire attraction.
English Heritage said the remains were not from the 2008 excavation and their "presentation, treatment and storage" would follow strict UK guidelines.
But King Arthur maintains the bones were the remains of members of the "royal line" or "priest caste" who could have been the "founding fathers of this great nation".

In an open letter, he said: "It is with sadness and regret that I recently learned of English Heritages plans to put on display in 'their' new visitor centre at the World Heritage site of Stonehenge, ancient skeletal and cremated human remains excavated from the environs of the World Heritage site.
"This is not only out of step with the feelings of many of the peoples and groups that I represent who would rather the ancient dead were reburied and left to rest in peace and where appropriate samples kept for research and 'copies' put on display, but is surely against the driving cultural principles of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"English Heritage has missed an opportunity to be world leaders in this field but instead have opted to display the ancestral remains in such a macabre manner.
"We shall not take this development lightly and will oppose any such intention by English Heritage at Stonehenge."
The £27 million project to build a new visitor centre and close the road alongside the ancient monument, near Salisbury, is due to be completed by the end of the year.
A spokeswoman for English Heritage said visitor research showed the "vast majority of museum visitors are comfortable with, and often expect to see, human remains".
"Stonehenge is the focus of a ceremonial and ritual landscape shaped by prehistoric people for over 1,500 years," she said.
"The exhibition in the new visitor centre will provide an introduction to the story of the monument and its landscape, and puts at its centre the people associated with it.
"The remains of three human burials found in the landscape will be displayed with ample explanation along with archaeological objects, providing visitors with a direct connection to the people who lived and worked there.

"As such, we believe they have a rightful place in the exhibition and their presentation, treatment and storage will follow strict guidelines set out by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
"Visitors will be made aware of the display before they enter the exhibition.
"Visitor research also shows that the vast majority of museum visitors are comfortable with, and often expect to see, human remains as part of displays.
"The three sets of human remains on display do not include any of those recently excavated by Professor Mike Parker Pearson from one of the Aubrey Holes at Stonehenge.
"The reburial of this set of remains, a separate issue being championed by King Arthur Pendragon, is a decision that rests with the Ministry of Justice.
"More details about the new exhibition at the Stonehenge visitor centre, including information about three sets of remains and the individuals to whom they belong, will be unveiled at a later stage."

Article source:

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Monday, 6 May 2013

Neolithic huts built at Old Sarum by English Heritage

Three Neolithic-style huts have been built at Old Sarum to learn more about how the builders of Stonehenge lived.
The aim is to build these Neolithic huts at
the Stonehenge visitor next year

The huts, made of chalk and straw daub and wheat-thatched roofing, have been based on archaeological remains found at Durrington Walls, near Stonehenge.

Project leader Luke Winter said: "What we're trying to do is get a sense of what these buildings looked like above-ground."

The hope is to re-build the huts at Stonehenge visitor centre next year.

Mr Winter added: "What makes the buildings interesting is that they were dated to about the same time as the large Sarson stones were being erected at Stonehenge.

"One of the theories is that these may have housed the people that were helping with construction of that monument."

Inside, the project team has used a variety of different daubs, made of pig soil [dung] or chalk and straw and construction techniques that would have been used by the Neolithic people.

"We've been trying a completely different way of thatching a roof. Nothing is tied onto the roof, as you would in a modern thatched building but the wheat straw that we've used is knotted and then tucked into a woven framework.

"Often people think 4,500 years ago is a long time ago, which of course to us as modern people it is, but it's well into beginnings of agriculture.

"We're looking at people that were farming, keeping cows and domesticating cereal crops, and of course houses were an important thing."

The Neolithic huts will be kept for another two months and will open to the public during the two May bank holidays.

Article Source:

Stonehenge Tour Guide, Wiltshire