A senior druid is taking one of the biggest charities in Britain to court after it introduced parking charges at Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice, forcing worshippers to “pay to pray”.
King Arthur Pendragon – the 62-year-old self-proclaimed reincarnation of the mythical King Arthur – is taking legal action against English Heritage, arguing it is a breach of people’s human rights to be charged a £15 ($18) fee before they can worship at the prehistoric monument.
Mr Pendragon, whose real name is John Rothwell, appeared at Salisbury County Court this week to argue that parking should be free because people have a right to pray without hindrance.
The court has now granted him a full day to have his case heard. The hearing is due to take place at Salisbury Crown Court in April.
Visitors to Stonehenge, near Amesbury in Wiltshire, can normally park there free of charge.
But during the June Summer Solstice, the busiest day of the year for Stonehenge, parking charges apply.
Critics believe English Heritage is cashing in on the surge in popularity of attending Stonehenge for the solstice. Over the last 15 years visitor numbers at the site are estimated to have quadrupled to about 40,000.
Mr Pendragon is taking the action via the European Convention on Human Rights.
He said outside the county court: “I am glad justice prevailed and I am pleased there there will be a full day’s hearing. English Heritage want to make money out of an event that means so much to many people. But for me, this case is not about the claim, it is about the remedy, and I hope at the hearing that we will emerge victorious. We have justice and right on our side.”
An English Heritage spokesman said: “This was a procedural hearing establishing the next steps and we look forward to presenting our full case at a later date.”