Stonehenge Sprayed With Orange Paint One Day Before Solstice

Stonehenge, one of the world’s most iconic archaeological sites, has been sprayed with orange paint by protestors demanding action on fossil fuels.

It comes just one day before the annual summer solstice celebrations.

Two campaigners from Just Stop Oil—a British environmental activist group focused on addressing human-caused climate change—sprayed two of the monoliths at around 11 a.m BST on Wednesday, June 19.

ForbesSummer Solstice 2024: What It Is And Why It’s The Earliest In 228 Years

Two Arrested

According to the Gazette & Herald, two people were arrested; Niamh Lynch, 21, from Oxford and Rajan Naidu, 73, from Birmingham. “Stonehenge at solstice is all about celebrating the natural world—but look at the state it’s in!” said Lynch in a press release on the Just Stop Oil website. “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. It’s time for us to think about what our civilization will leave behind—what is our legacy?”

The orange cornflour used to spray the monuments will be washed away by rain, said Just Stop Oil. However, according to the BBC, experts will need to assess the stones to see if lasting damage has been caused. “They are sensitive and they are completely covered in prehistoric markings which remain to be fully studied,” said Mike Pitts, archaeologist and author of How to Build Stonehenge, to the BBC.

Fossil Fuels

The movement’s post on X said that the action was aimed at “demanding the incoming government sign up to a legally binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030.”

The U.K. will have a general election on July 4.

The monument in Wiltshire, southern England, dates back to 2500 B.C. and its stones align with the rising sun on the date of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere.

The midsummer sun rises slightly to the left of the Heal Stone.

Solstice Celebrations

This week the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice collides with the full “Strawberry Moon” and a Major Lunar Standstill.

The monument is expected to celebrate the rising of the midsummer sun on Thursday, Jun. 20, which will be streamed live on YouTube. A second celestial event, the Major Lunar Standstill—one of the southernmost moonrises during an 18.6 year period—will be streamed live on YouTube at 21:30 BST (4:30 p.m. EST) on Friday, Jun. 21.

Last year around 8,000 people were at Stonehenge at sunrise to celebrate the moment, according to English Heritage, while approximately 154,000 people watched on a livestream.

Global Moment

“Celebrating Summer Solstice is one of the highlights of the year at Stonehenge—both for the people who make the journey from near and far to welcome in the longest day, but also for the many people who join us from their homes to watch the sunset and sunrise on our livestream,” said Nichola Tasker, Director of Stonehenge at English Heritage. “Stonehenge continues to captivate and to bring people together to celebrate the seasons, just as it has done for thousands of years.”

Solstice signifies the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of winter in the southern hemisphere. It’s a global moment when the planet’s north axis is at its maximum tilt toward the sun, causing the longest day and shortest night in 2024 north of the equator, and opposite south of the equator.

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