Two Just Stop Oil protesters arrested after spraying Stonehenge orange

Two Just Stop Oil protesters have been arrested after spraying the historic Stonehenge monument in orange paint on Wednesday.

They have been arrested on suspicion of damaging some of the stones at the ancient site near Salisbury, Wiltshire Police said.

“Our enquiries are ongoing and we are working closely with English Heritage,” the force added.

Video footage posted on social media showed two people wearing white shirts running up to the monoliths with spray paint canisters around 11am.

Members of the public were seen trying to prevent the protesters by dragging them away.

Several stones were covered in the substance before one protester stopped and sat cross legged on the grass while another was dragged away by a woman.

The protesters were seen being marched away from the site by several police officers in a separate video posted by Just Stop Oil, who said the pair had been taken into custody.

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer have both condemned the action by the protest group.

The Prime Minister said: “This is a disgraceful act of vandalism to one of the UK’s and the world’s oldest and most important monuments.

“Just Stop Oil should be ashamed of their activists, and they and anyone associated with them, including a certain Labour Party donor, should issue a condemnation of this shameful act immediately.”

Labour leader Sir Keir said: “The damage done to Stonehenge is outrageous.

“Just Stop Oil are pathetic.

“Those responsible must face the full force of the law.”

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey added: “The damage to Stonehenge is a total disgrace and the full force of the law should be brought down on the perpetrators.”

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: “Orange powdered paint has been thrown at a number of the stones at Stonehenge.

“Obviously, this is extremely upsetting and our curators are investigating the extent of the damage. Stonehenge remains open to the public.”

On Thursday thousands are expected to descend on the site to celebrate the summer solstice.

Protesters target Stonehenge (Just Stop Oil)
Protesters target Stonehenge (Just Stop Oil)

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said the group is demanding that the next government sign up to a legally-binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030.

“Failure to commit to defending our communities will mean Just Stop Oil supporters, along with citizens from Austria, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland, will join in resistance this summer, if their own governments do not take meaningful action,” they said.

“Stone circles can be found in every part of Europe showing how we’ve always co-operated across vast distances – we’re building on that legacy.”

Protesters sit in front of Stonehenge (Just Stop Oil)
Protesters sit in front of Stonehenge (Just Stop Oil)

Protester Niamh Lynch, 21, a student from Oxford, said: “Stonehenge at solstice is all about celebrating the natural world – but look at the state it’s in.

“We all have a right to live a life free from suffering, but continued burning of oil, coal and gas is leading to death and suffering on an unparalleled scale.”

The second protester, Rajan Naidu, 73, from Birmingham, said: “The orange cornflour we used to create an eye-catching spectacle will soon wash away with the rain, but the urgent need for effective government action to mitigate the catastrophic consequences of the climate and ecological crisis will not.”

Each year thousands make the pilgrimage to Stonehenge, an ancient stone circle, to watch the sunrise for the summer solstice - and camp overnight at the World Heritage Site.

The Heel Stone found on the outside of Stonehenge’s main circle lines up with the rising sun during a summer solstice.

Stonehenge was built in stages on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, some 5,000 years ago, with the stone circle erected in the late Neolithic period of around 2,500 BC.

Some of the stones, the so-called bluestones, are known to have come from the Preseli Hills in south-west Wales, nearly 150 miles away, but the origins of others remain a mystery.

Earlier this month, two women were arrested and released on bail after a Just stop Oil protest outside the Duke of Westminster’s wedding.

 (Just Stop Oil/PA Wire)
(Just Stop Oil/PA Wire)

Billionaire aristocrat Hugh Grosvenor, 33, and bride Olivia Henson, 31, were outside Chester Cathedral with members of their wedding party, including the Prince of Wales, following the ceremony on June 7 when orange powder was released from a fire extinguisher by a member of the crowd.

Meanwhile five Just Stop Oil protesters were sentenced after invading the Les Miserables stage at the West End.

The protesters jumped on stage during the October 4 musical, prompting ushers to lead the cast off stage as the audience booed.

Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups demand the Government work with other nations to establish a legally binding treaty to stop extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal by 2030.

Mr Sunak’s comments on a Labour donor appear to be directed at Dale Vince, who was one of the protest movement’s major backers until last year.