The Telegraph, Guardian, BBC, Salisbury Journal, and Daily Mail all report that Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon (no, not that Arthur Pendragon) has been given notice by authorities to vacate his position in front of Stonehenge by May 3rd or face prosecution for trespassing. Pendragon (the Druid formerly know as John Rothwell) has been living in a camper at the edge of the site for the last 10 months protesting issues of access, lack of upkeep, and long-promised improvements. “[King Arthur Pendragon] believes visitors should be allowed to walk close to the stones and touch them rather than being confined to a visitor centre and a pathway well away from the monument. Pendragon also believes the fence designed to keep visitors out has a damaging impact on the stone circle itself, holding it “in a stranglehold like a snared animal”. Wiltshire county council launched legal proceedings to force Pendragon to move away.
The National Secular Society has released a response to the The National Trust and English Heritage holding a public consultation on the proposed reburial of a neolithic skeleton found at Avebury that has been dubbed “Charlie”. An issue raised by The Council of British Druid Orders (and a CoBDO splinter group) on the grounds that these remains represent their spiritual and genetic ancestors, and that it is ‘disrespectful’ to treat them differently from exhumed Christian remains. Unsurprisingly, the NSS takes a dim view of these demands, and the deference shown to them by The National Trust. The NSS believes that the National Trust and English Heritage have abdicated their clear responsibility to the nation to turn down the requests from the Council of British Druid Orders (CoBDO), an unelected and unaccountable group, for the reburial of ancient human remains at the Alexander Keiller Museum in Avebury. It is important that the demands of one small group are not allowed to overwhelm those of the general public and interested groups, including those of scientists seeking to understand and to spread understanding of the lives of our ancestors in prehistory.
Sometimes you learn more by reporting the gossip than you do by merely stating the facts. For instance, last week a story appeared about a British Druid demanding the reburial of a 4000-year-old skeleton on religious grounds. What that article didn’t tell you was that Paul Davies, the man supposedly speaking for The Council of British Druid Orders, is actually leading a small splinter group calling itself CoBDO West. The ‘row’ concerns a small breakaway group of druids (known to some as COBDO West) who’ve requested the museum release the remains so they can rebury them where they came from. King Arthur and mainstream COBDO want the same thing — but are upset that COBDO West have taken matters into their own hands.