Centenary of druidic observances at Stonehenge
This years winter solstice observance at Stonehenge will mark the centenary of Dr. G.W. MacGregor Reid being recorded undertaking such activities by the Wiltshire Constabulary. The Most Ancient Order of Druids had chosen Dr. G.W. MacGregor Reid in 1909 and his 37 years in office was to see the druid presence at Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice, develop into a permanent feature.
Wiltshire Constabulary had noted over two thousand people attending the early morning Summer Solstice the previous year. The astronomer, Sir Norman Lockyer had published a book on Stonehenge three years previously and this was thought to have brought the solstice to the interest of the wider public, not just the Ancient Order of Druids.
It would seem that the good Doctor had been conducting services for five years before there was any recorded disorder, and this was to be for the first time in living memory. The Summer Solstice of 1914 was on a Sunday morning, and the attendance was much larger than usual. The fracas began with an attempt by the Druids to carry out their ceremony within the stone circle.
Stonehenge had been enclosed in 1901 and a turnstile installed beside the Avenue, with an entry fee of a shilling per head.
Dr MacGregor Reid, Mr George Catchlove and eight others paid admission to the enclosure, although they protested against the charge. At about twenty past three in the morning Dr MacGregor Reid began to read druidical prayers at the 'altar stone'.
He had not got very far before Superintendent Buchanan of Wiltshire Constabulary stepped in.
Buchanan drew attention to a notice which prohibited any form of meeting or service within the circle.
He told Dr MacGregor Reid that he should stop the ceremony immediately, but the request was ignored and the Druid leader continued in an even louder voice. Superintendent Buchanan warned a second time that if MacGregor Reid didn't stop immediately the police would be forced to throw him out of the enclosure. The Druids ignored the second warning and, in consequence, MacGregor Reid was forcibly ejected. His followers left of their own accord.
Later in the day MacGregor Reid and Catchlove, who were wearing white robes and purple cassocks, held services outside the enclosure.
In 1915 the Druids were again refused free admission to the enclosure. For a second time MacGregor Reid and his supporters were ejected from the circle, and again for the same reason.
1916 saw the Most Ancient Order of Druids allowed to hold their ceremonies at Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice, to which they have been doing ever since.
Posted by Chance
21st December 2009ce