Where was the Stonehenge Festival?


Festival 1976 (NMR/English Heritage)
Festival 1976 (NMR/English Heritage)

All over the place really. On my first summer solstice visit in 1971 it was little more than a gaggle of people sleeping in the ditch around the stones. These two photos from Julian Richards’ excellent collection published by English Heritage show where it went from there: first immediately outside the earthwork to the south-west, so that it faced the rising sun on June 21; then across the road into what we call the Cursus field, National Trust land between Byway 12 and the Fargo Plantation. At its greatest extent it did run onto the Cursus itself (thanks for the comment, Francis Stoner), and spread eastwards into the Avenue field. Damage was reported at the time to the woodland at Fargo and to some of the barrows.

Festival 1982 (Alan Lodge)
Festival 1982 (Alan Lodge)

It’s high time a proper academic study was done of this story. There must be a great deal of information out there in the form of press reports, memories, correspondence and snapshots (and English Heritage, National Trust and police files), but it needs to be collated and assessed before we ever get a real picture of what happened in all its details. Would make a good PhD.

EH 2004

6 thoughts on “Where was the Stonehenge Festival?

  1. Stonehenge Free Festivals Were Completely Wonderful…

    They sure were. In the Spring of ’74 we decided to change colleges
    (IUP/ASU). Vacationed to Stonehenge on June 19th. Met some really neat
    folks along the way. I told them they should camp at Stonehenge. Always
    have been big on camping myself. Simply love sleeping (tenting)
    outdoors. That same year, Winter of ’74, we went to Grand Canyon. Four
    of us hiked down it, and up. We didn’t camp that time though
    (blizzard). Had to be back for classes (ASU). Anyway, I saved this from
    our school paper. State Press, in the Fall of ’74:

    “A strange hippie cult calling themselves ‘Wallies’ claim God told them
    to camp at Stonehenge. The Wallies of Wiltshire turned up in force at
    the High Court today. There was Kris Wally, Alan Wally, Fritz Wally,
    Sir Walter Wally, Wally Egypt and a few other wandering Wallys. The
    sober calm of the High Court was shattered as the Wallies of Stonehenge
    sought justice. A lady Wally called Egypt with bare feet and bells on
    her ankles blew soap bubbles in the rarefied legal air and knelt to
    meditate. Sir Walter Wally wore a theatrical Elizabethan doublet with
    blue jeans and spoke of peace and equality and hot dogs. Kevin Wally
    chain-smoked through a grotesque mask and gave the victory sign to
    embarrassed pin-striped lawyers. And tartan-blanketed Kris Wally – “My
    mates built Stonehenge” – climbed a lamp-post in the Strand outside the
    Law Courts and stopped bemused tourists in their tracks. The Wallies
    (motto `Everyone’s a Wally: Everyday’s a Sun Day’) – made the
    pilgrimage to the High Court to defend what was their squatter right to
    camp on Stonehenge. . . the Department of the Environment is bringing
    an action in the High Court to evict the Wallies from the meadow, a
    quarter of a mile from the sarsen circle of standing stones, which is
    held by the National Trust on behalf of the nation. The document,
    delivered by the Department to the camp is a masterpiece of po-faced
    humour, addressed to “one known as Arthur Wally, another known as
    Philip Wally, another known as Ron Wally and four others each known as
    Wally”. For instance, paragraph seven begins resoundingly: “There were
    four male adults in the tent and I asked each one in turn his name.
    Each replied `I’m Wally”‘. There are a soft core of about two dozen,
    peace-loving, sun worshipping Wallies – including Wally Woof the
    mongrel dog. Hitch-hikers thumbing their way through Wiltshire from
    Israel, North America, France, Germany and Scotland have swollen their
    numbers. Egypt Wally wouldn’t say exactly where she was from – only
    that she was born 12,870 years ago in the cosmic sun and had a certain
    affinity with white negative. Last night they were squatting on the
    grass and meditating on the news.”

    Stonehenge Free Festivals Were Completely Wonderful… by the Summer of
    ’84 there were megaphones, microphones, and geophones everywhere. And
    of course, recorders. Mine (several) were from school (IUP). The
    Wallies of Wessex and Hell’s Angels made the ’84 shoot possible. Howard
    Hughes would have been proud. It was his idea, but he died in ’76. Many
    thanks Wallies and Hell’s Angels.

    G. Willy Wally

  2. As a veteran of that movement 1979-87 there are loads of web based chronicles of Stonehenge and the festival movement. Check out the various FB groups

  3. Hi. I went to most of the festivals from 76 on, truly amazing times they were too. If you’re after a chat . Can’t remember exact dates though, they all merge onto one big memory. Hope you get loads of help. Loonee x

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