Sunday, 22 June 2014


Last night, after flicking idly through the TV channels, we ended up unintentionally watching the BBC2 documentary, a Culture Show Special, 'The Battle For Stonehenge'.   I was totally engaged from the off and so pleased I saw it all.

Stonehenge is just one of those places, so fascinating for obvious reasons, but so easy to take for granted, especially perhaps for a Briton.  I've driven past it many times on the A303 on the way to Devon and Cornwall and was also taken there as a young child in the days when you could wander around freely with your crisps and a bottle of Cresta.   I even went to the Free Festival there in 1979 when Mr SDS' original band were booked to play a support slot  and a group of us travelled down. I remember I wore my pink drainpipes. I also remember the heavy atmosphere, the Hell's Angels, the rumours about bikers carrying knives and unruly, unsupervised kids appearing out of nowhere to clamber over the van like monkeys in a wildlife park, rummaging through our bags. When the so-called schedule got so far behind that the band ended up not playing after all, we drove back grumpily and hungrily through the early hours, stopping in London to try and sleep, cramped together like kippers on someone's tiny floor after drinking a cup of something cold and gritty masquerading as tea. I was only 15 and was supposed to have been delivered home safely that same night, but had to ring my parents and explain that I was staying in a strange flat in Stoke Newington instead...

But back to the programme: I learned so much – and I love it when you find out about things without even trying and without even realising you were that interested in the first place. For instance, I had no idea that Stonehenge had ever been privately owned, nor who by. It was also fascinating to see the carved 'graffiti' that was already hundreds of years old on some of the stones - I love these reminders that people are pretty much the same throughout history, unable to resist the chance to leave their mark somewhere. There was even an unexpected clip of Marc Bolan from some film or documentary that I've no recollection of ever seeing before.  And, as you probably would expect, there was also a bit of background to the whole Druid thing, and if you could bear to witness the rainbow coloured garments, white person dreadlocks, beards and tribal drumming long enough (I confess I have an innate aversion) an interesting insight to the ongoing traditions of a spiritual nature and some associated political wrangles.

Talking of political wrangles, perhaps the most moving part of this programme was the footage and personal account from the infamous 'Battle of the Beanfield'. Whilst I remembered seeing the news about it at the time, I was still horrified and shocked all these years later at the level of police brutality and the underhand tactics they deployed.

There are 5 days left on BBC iPlayer if you're interested...


  1. Thanks for the nod C, i'll be checking this one out.

  2. Will be ever to iPlayer as soon as. Never actually been myself, though viewed a few times from passing cars. Now, if you're talking about Cresta...!

  3. TS, SB - hope you enjoy it as much as I did. You'll like the Bolan bits if not seen before!
    I meant to say too that it was brilliantly presented by Alastair Sooke, he has a particularly engaging, no-nonsense approach.

  4. The cops might be the only group that could put me on the side of the dream catchers.

    It can be difficult to find features on Stonehenge that don't over involve sunbeams, juggling or Aliens.

    1. Don't know if you can watch this over there but it makes a refreshing change from the sort of features you mention! Of course there are appearances by some of those juggling alien sunbeams, but these are made up for by footage from Blue Peter, the lovely Alastair Sooke and *that* song from Spinal Tap....(amongst other things).

      The Battle of the Beanfield footage is definitely enough to put you on the side of the dream catchers here (think you can find some of it on youtube). The behaviour of the police and the contempt they show towards them is hard to stomach.

    2. I ain't allowed to watch it.

      One resource I can always call on is our adamparsons...he is a superstar archeologist with the, I can ask him about the aliens. Not his area but he's aware of the comings and goings surrounding such things.


  5. Excellent programme, I myself was also totally shocked and distraught at seeing the young boy screaming for help from the cameraman as the police were beating him, this footage was censored for nearly 30 years.

    1. Hi and thanks for dropping by and commenting. I'm glad this footage has been shown now.

  6. Fascinating programme. Seems like *some* good work is being done by English Heritage but I still fear that all the wrong motives are involved. Isn't that bloke from EH a bit of a tosser? Also, did you see how they made the ancient Briton they dug up and displayed in a cabinet look almost *exactly* like 'Arthur Pendragon'? Cynical. Mind you, a lot of the hippies are almost as bad and certainly pretty ridiculous - but each to their own. The footage of the Battle of the Beanfield was utterly shocking - i'd forgotten how bad the police brutality was and the parallels with the contemporaneous Miners' Strike was quite something. The establishment had it in for everyone at the time. Watch out - things haven't changed that much! The wonderful Bolan footage is from 'London Rock', one my favourite docs of the period, which is well worth searching for. Also features various 'scenesters', The Faces, Fairport Convention and Linda Lewis(!). Very charming film that makes me want to find a time machine. Oh, I'm going on now. Sorry! Thanks for the 'heads up' about the Stonehenge show.

    1. Ah I'm glad you enjoyed it too.

      Haha, yes, I said exactly the same about Arthur Pendragon's 'lookalike'! Must have been deliberate, surely?! For all the things I don't like about the whole hippie contingent here I'm glad there are people like him - they stir things up a bit and keep the authorities on their toes. The EH bloke was a bit slimey, I thought! But it seems as if the future of Stonehenge is generally more positive now.

      As for the Battle of the Beanfield footage... so awful. Synonymous with Thatcherism... though, as you say, how much has changed??

      Thanks for enlightening me about the Bolan footage, I don't know 'London Rock' at all so that's one to check out.

  7. Hello. I dropped into your blog quite by accident and very glad I did too otherwise I'd have missed seeing this documentary on iPlayer. So thank you!
    Coincidentally, I remember seeing Flux Of Pink Indians playing at Stonehenge, which would have been just after Neu Smell came out. It would've been my first visit to the festival. I was only a young punk rocker and I didn't realise it was them playing until they launched into Tube Disasters. They were an important band right from their Epileptics incarnation through to their Winnie The Pooh zen punk outpourings and I'm still not sure to this day if they realise just how important they actually were.
    But anyway, the point of me posting (apart from wanting to say thanks) was to highlight another documentary on iPlayer at the moment called Girls Will Be Girls, presented by Miranda Sawyer for The Culture Show. If you've not already done so, I would urge you to watch it because I think you'd enjoy it very much. It would also be nice to read any comments you might have about it?
    I shall drop by again.
    Take care.

    1. Hi John, many thanks for dropping by and commenting! So pleased you saw the Stonehenge documentary - it was great, wasn't it?
      That's interesting that you saw FoPI there... I wasn't at that one but heard about it - specifically the troubles there that night - later. It's interesting too what you say about their importance too, it certainly was a very active scene at the time.
      Yes, I did watch the Culture Show prog you mention and you're right - thoroughly enjoyed it! It was very resonant as the Slits, Siouxsie and Poly were my early teenage role models and I'm so glad of them. I never felt like I fitted in to the normal female stereotype at the time, didn't think of myself as girly or pretty and punk came along just at the right moment for me to feel I wasn't alone and I could aspire to something else. I'm so thankful for that!
      Perhaps I'll have to write more on here later!
      Thanks again.


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