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Stonehenge sprayed with paint by environmental protesters

June 19, 2024

The prehistoric megalithic structure in England has been targeted by activists spraying orange powder paint, social media footage showed.

Environmental protesters spray paint on Britain's Stonehenge
Stonehenge is one of the UK's most visited tourist spots and a UNESCO World Heritage SiteImage: Just Stop Oil/PA Media/picture alliance

Environmental protesters sprayed paint on Stonehenge on Wednesday, with footage showing an orange powder covering some of the stones.

Two protesters dressed in white were seen running towards two of the megaliths, spraying paint, as another person attempted to stop them, in footage released by Just Stop Oil, an environmental activist group focused on the issue of human-caused climate change.

Two arrests

Within hours of the incident Wiltshire Police released a statement saying two people had been arrested.

"Officers attended the scene and arrested two people on suspicion of damaging the ancient monument."

"Our inquiries are ongoing and we are working closely with English Heritage," the police added, referring to the public body that cares for hundreds of  historic places, including Stonehenge.

Just Stop Oil a 'disgrace,' says PM Sunak

The prehistoric structure dates back to somewhere between 3100 BC and 1600 BC, according to archaeologists, and Wednesday's vandalism of the stones prompted British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to post on X: "Just Stop Oil are a disgrace."

To which the activists posted in response: "Relax lad. The cornstarch will wash off even quicker than you'll be out of number 10. Which is saying something."

The UK is set to hold a general election on July 4, with Sunak's Conservative Party forecast to lose heavily in the nationwide ballot.

Van Gogh and Wimbledon targeted

Just Stop Oil has drawn criticism for targeting public treasures in the past, including the vandalism of Van Gogh's Sunflowers with tomato soup in a publicity stunt at London's National Gallery in 2022.

Less than a year later, two protesters from the group disrupted play during the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, running onto the court throwing confetti from a picture-puzzle box featuring an image of Wimbledon's famed Center Court.

On the eve of that tournament, celebrities including Richard Curtis and Emma Thompson had called on Wimbledon to end its partnership with Barclays Bank over the institution's multibillion-dollar support for fossil fuel projects.

Edited by: Louis Oelofse

John Silk Editor and writer for English news, as well as the Culture and Asia Desks.@JSilk