United States

Climate Activists Spray Stonehenge With Orange Paint Ahead Of Summer Solstice

Members of the environmental group Just Stop Oil sprayed orange paint on Stonehenge, a historic monument, to protest fossil fuel use.

They aimed to highlight the need for immediate action against climate change. Photo: AP

Stonehenge, one of the world's oldest and most famous historic sites, has been marred by a protest involving orange paint, just a day before the traditional summer solstice festivities. The incident occurred when two individuals from Just Stop Oil, an environmental group advocating against fossil fuels, sprayed orange paint on two of the towering stones around 11:00 am BST on Wednesday, June 19.

"We have arrested two people following an incident at Stonehenge this afternoon,” Wiltshire police said in a statement. “At around noon, we responded to a report that orange paint had been sprayed on some of the stones by two suspects. Officers attended the scene and arrested two people on suspicion of damaging the ancient monument. Our inquiries are ongoing.”

Identified as Niamh Lynch, a 21-year-old student from Oxford, and Rajan Naidu, aged 73, from Birmingham, the individuals involved aimed to draw attention to their demand for the UK government to lead efforts in ending fossil fuel extraction and combustion by 2030.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the act, labelling it "a disgraceful act of vandalism to one of the UK’s and the world’s oldest and most important monuments," according to The Guardian. English Heritage, responsible for Stonehenge, expressed deep dismay over the incident but assured the public that the site remains open for visitors.

The protest was timed to coincide with the summer solstice, a significant event when thousands gather at Stonehenge to witness the sunrise. “Stonehenge at Solstice is all about celebrating the natural world—but look at the state it’s in!” Lynch said in a statement. She emphasised the urgent need to address the suffering caused by the continued use of fossil fuels.

Lynch also shared a video on social media before her arrest, reflecting on the longevity of the monument. “These stones have stood here for 5,000 years. What will the world look like in 5,000 years’ time?” she asked.

Naidu added his voice, calling for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. “Either we end the fossil fuel era, or the fossil fuel era will end us,” he stated. He noted that the orange paint used was made of cornflour and would wash away with the rain, symbolising the temporary nature of their protest compared to the enduring impact of fossil fuels.

This year’s summer solstice coincides with other significant celestial events, including a full “Strawberry Moon” and a Major Lunar Standstill. Stonehenge is expected to welcome thousands of visitors for the sunrise on Thursday, June 20, with live streams available for those who cannot attend in person. Last year, about 8,000 people gathered at the site, while 154,000 watched the event online.