Stonehenge Vandals Strike Ahead of Solstice

Environmental activists toss orange powder at monument ahead of annual event
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2024 12:13 PM CDT
Stonehenge Gets a Paint Job
Just Stop Oil protesters sit after spraying an orange substance at Stonehenge, in Salisbury, England, on Wednesday.   (Just Stop Oil via AP)

A day before celebrations to honor the summer solstice at Britain's iconic Stonehenge, the monument received a surprise paint job. Environmental activists sprayed what authorities described as orange paint at two of the monument's megaliths on Wednesday, per the BBC. A video shared by the Just Stop Oil group showed two protesters spraying orange powder at the structure while a third person tried to stop them. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak later said it was a "disgraceful act of vandalism." Wiltshire Police said two people were arrested, per CBC News.

Just Stop Oil identified the pair as Niamh Lynch, a 21-year-old student from Oxford, and Rajan Naidu, a 73-year-old from Birmingham. The group denied there was any serious damage to the 5,000-year-old monument, saying the powder was corn flour and would "wash away with rain," per the BBC. A rep for English Heritage, the conservation charity that cares for the UNESCO World Heritage Site, said curators were still assessing the extent of the damage. Archaeologist Mike Pitts noted the incident was "potentially quite concerning" as the monoliths are "completely covered in prehistoric markings [that] remain to be fully studied."

Just Stop Oil has previously made headlines for stunts targeting famous paintings at London's National Gallery. In 2022, activists threw soup on a painting by Vincent Van Gogh. The following year, protesters smashed glass protecting a work by Diego Velazquez. The group is pushing the UK government to end the extraction and burning of oil, gas, and coal by 2030. Stonehenge near Salisbury, Wiltshire, remains open to the public. An event to honor the summer solstice, when the sun's first rays shine into the heart of the monument, runs late Thursday into Friday morning. (More Stonehenge stories.)

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