The Struggle to Gain Access to Stonehenge
Immediately after the founding of the Druid Clan of Dana in 1992, members of the DCD joined with other Druid groups working together in an organization called the Council of British Druid Orders. Among these were Steve Wilson and John Merron. Lady Olivia Robertson was made an Associate Member of the Council. Associate membership includes those who are prominent in the academic and Druid communities. The Council had been formed in the late 1980’s with the specific purpose of gaining public access to Stonehenge for Druidic celebrations at Summer Solstice.
At dawn of Sunday, February 26, 1995, standing on the frosty ground amongst the stones, representatives from the various Druid orders within the Council were able to conduct an initiation ceremony at Stonehenge. Among these were members of the Druid Clan of Dana, ArchDruid Steve Wilson, ArchDruid John Merron and ArchDruidess Caroline Wise. These three are also members of the ArchPriesthood of the FOI.
John Merron writes of his participation in that ceremony: "Opening the quarters in Britain 's most inaccessible monument was a privilege and one of my most memorable experiences."
In the photo above, ArchDr. John Merron is third from left wearing a white headdress; near the center of the photo is Dylan Ap Thuin, founder of the Insular Order of Druids, wearing a sash and holding a staff; to the right, wearing a dark hooded cloak is ArchDrs. Caroline Wise; standing behind her in dark blue is ArchDr. Steve Wilson; to the right is King Arthur of the Loyal Arthurian Warband holding a staff; and next to him is Rollo Maughfling, one of the two founders of the Glastonbury Order of Druids. The banner to the right bears the emblem of the Insular Order of Druids.
One Summer Solstice gathering at Stonehenge occurred in 1998, admittance by ticket holders only, with one hundred tickets sent to various representatives for that occasion. Rt. Rev. Steve Wilson, ArchDruid of the Druid Clan of Dana wrote at that time: "After 10 years of negotiating with English Heritage, the Council of British Druid Orders have succeeded in the contentious matter of access for Druids at Stonehenge at the Summer Solstice, and 100 Druids were allowed in. The Council sees this as a partial success as they are fighting for eventual access for all Druids who wish to celebrate the solstice there. The Council has never given up on this matter, and has fought ... on all Druids’ behalf for this right to worship.”
Caroline Wise wrote: "I was privileged to be one of the hundred people given a ticket to observe the solstice sunrise from the stones - I hadn't done that since 1974. I went with John Merron. It was a wonderful experience - and surreal, with a huge police escort including motorcycle outriders and blue flashing lights accompanying us through the half-light from a 'top secret' location in Salisbury!"
The Council of British Druid Orders Today
The repeated and valiant efforts of the Council were rewarded with full public access to Stonehenge at Summer Solstice in the year 2000. Today, Summer Solstice festivals continue at Stonehenge with very strict rules laid upon participants in order to protect the site.
The Council also holds annual ceremonies at Summer Solstice at either Primrose Hill or Parliament Hill in London. Druid Clan of Dana members still join with members of the Council and the other Druid orders to celebrate Summer Solstice at Stonehenge and in London every year.
Steve Wilson, AU joined the Council of British Druid Orders in 1991. Steve and Johnny Merron, AU have acted as representatives of the DCD since 1992 within the CoBDO. Steve is a Permanent Officer of the CoBDO, working as Press Officer responsible for contact with the media. The Druid Clan of Dana is only one of the many groups working within the Council.
The four founding organizations were the Glastonbury Order of Druids, The Secular Order of Druids, The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, and The Ancient Order of Druids. Among the many other Druid groups represented in the CoBDO are The British Druid Order, Ancient and Modern Order of Druids, The Loyal Arthurian Warband, the Insular Order of Druids, Druids of Albion, Phoenix Order of Druids, Anderida Gorsedd, Order of the Sidhe, Red Dragon Order, Albion Conclave, Cumbria Druid Order, Cotswold Druid Order and Wandering Peace Poets, to name a very few. Druid Orders from Brittany and the United States also joined in support of the work of the CoBDO.
Special thanks to John Merron, ArchPriest of the Fellowship of Isis and ArchDruid of the Grove of the Four Elements, Druid Clan of Dana, Caroline Wise, ArchPriestess and ArchDrs. and to Steve Wilson, ArchPriest and ArchDruid of the DCD. You can read more about the current work of the CoBDO here: http://www.cobdo.org.uk/index.html
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Photo courtesy of Insular Order of Druids historic archives. http://www.lugodoc.demon.co.uk/Druids/IOD%20Initiation.htm