AN APPEAL by druids against a Stonehenge trespass conviction was thrown out by judges – after one of the women admitted she could “charge her crystals” at Avebury.

Judge Peter Crabtree delivered the crushing verdict at Swindon Crown Court on Friday more than a year after the three pagans were convicted over the road at the magistrates’ court of breaching heritage laws and Stonehenge regulations.

Lisa Mead and Maryam Halcrow – respectively a druid and a solitary hedge witch – jumped a rope cordon in February and May last year during protests against what they branded English Heritage’s mismanagement of Stonehenge. Druid Angela Grace was involved in the May incursion.

The women appealed their conviction to the crown court on the basis that they had a reasonable excuse for their actions under the European Convention on Human Rights. The Stonehenge regulations contravened their rights to freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and freedom to protest, they claimed.

What happened?

On February 4, Mead and Halcrow were at Stonehenge to protest against English Heritage and what they saw as its mismanagement of the stones.

They were part of a group that held placards and a flag. Mead tried to encourage tourists visiting the site to cross the rope barrier. While in the stone circle she spent much of her time speaking to an English Heritage staff member. Halcrow told constables she was there "to worship at her temple" and spent much of the 15 minutes the protest occupied the circle singing and touching the stones.

On May 6, Grace joined Mead and Halcrow at another protest - again against English Heritage's management of Stonehenge.

The group occupied the circle for 10 minutes. Grace and Mead spent time worshipping in silence upon the ground. Both women sang - as did Halcrow, who also touched the stones as before.

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The druids said events like the Summer Solstice (pictured) were too crowded Picture: TOM GREGORY

Appeal quashed

On Friday, the women's appeal was dismissed. Judge Crabtree acknowledged that the Stonehenge regulations restricting access to the sacred stones impacted the women’s human rights.

But he said the restrictions were proportionate and English Heritage offered free access into the stone circle on four days a year and paid access for pre-booked groups of up to 30 before and after opening hours.

Judge Crabtree said: “The restriction serves to protect the very essence of the monument for current and future generations by strictly controlling access into the stone circle.”

On the days of both protests tourists were aware of the demonstrators inside the circle. On February 4, there was evidence that sightseers were encouraged to cross the rope barrier – a breach of the regulations. The protestors had been offered other spots from which to hold their demo.

Charging crystals

During the two-day appeal all the women spoke of the importance of Stonehenge to their beliefs – but each noted they had links to other stone circles.

Lisa Mead, 53, formerly of Banff, Scotland, but who now travels the UK in her 18-year-old caravan, said she could perform healing at Avebury and charge her crystals there. But she said the National Trust-owned site was “not as a powerful” as Stonehenge.

Maryam Halcrow, 57, of Poplar Avenue, Pinehurst, said Avebury and other stone circles were “like substations while Stonehenge was the power station”.

Angela Grace, 47, of Ermin Street, Blunsdon, told the court she picked up her energy from singing.

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Crowds at the Summer Solstice 2019 Picture: TOM GREGORY

No costs

Judge Crabtree made no order for costs after hearing the trio were all on benefits. The six-month conditional discharges to which they were sentenced last November will stand.

'What Stonehenge means to me'

Following her trial at Swindon Magistrates’ Court last year, Ms Mead said: “I went into Stonehenge for the first time when I was 16 and I felt the subtle earth energies. Then I learned how you can heal people with these subtle earth energies.

“My message to English Heritage is to stop exploiting Stonehenge as a cash cow. They’ve got no regard to our spiritual beliefs and practices. It’s just profit, profit, profit."