Who killed the hippies?

Footage of a clamp-down on freedom, peace and anti-materialism

This blog requires some audience participation from you.

If you want to understand some of the things I will be writing about in future posts please watch and compare the following clips. It is a history that needs to be told and has been suppressed.

Footage of Stonehenge Free Festival 1983

Footage of Stonehenge Free Festival 1984

See Youtube for further clips of the 1984 Stonehenge festival with Roy Harper, Hawkwind and others.

Stonehenge once we were labelled as “medieval brigands”.Actually Mrs. Thatcher called us medieval brigands in 1986 but they had already labelled us as a threat due to the amount of us amassing in large groups and travelling around the country in the summer.

Below this pararagraph is footage of people trying to get to the Stonehenge Free festival 1985 and getting beaten up by the police,vehicles/homes and possessions destroyed. I met some women at later festivals who told me that subsequently their dogs were put down and children taken into care simply because they happened to be trying to get to Stonehenge ( Battle of the Bean Field).

ITN News footage of hippies being stopped from going to Stonehenge 1985 plus political preamble from an anonymous man

Here is further footage on youtube ,they are excerpts from a documentary on what happened in 1985 on the way to Stonehenge

How does this compare to how hippies are portrayed in current culture/media?
I think they/we were braver than most.

Glastonbury vs Stonehenge

The one and only reason why the Glastonbury Festival still survives is that they charge shit loads of money and follow laws and regulations imposed upon them. If you think your door money is going to Oxfam and Greenpeace , think again. I worked for Oxfam and know people who worked at Glastonbury. The door money mainly goes to greedy music biz management who try to get the biggest fees possible only a tiny percentage goes to charity. I am not against the Glastonbury festival but in our money obsessed culture the only way for festivals to survive is by treating it like an enterprise.

At Stonehenge we had great acts and everyone worked for free.

The Stonehenge Culture
Many bands formed at the Stonehenge festival, it was a creative melting pot for music and for friends to meet up once a year. There were over 200 bands playing on or around the Solstice.For some people the festival lasted the whole of June but the majority of people came down for the Solstice itself. There were many soldiers on leave who used to come along from the surrounding army bases who wanted somewhere to party and see live music.

Peace and Love and Music all given freely and camping in fields are dangerous things to people who follow all the rules, who have to pay for something to enjoy themselves and who do not understand why others should be free or to have a good time without money. Hippies make good scapegoats and objects of ridicule.

Officially the excuse for banning The Stonehenge Free Festival was that it was harming the stones and archeology of the site.

I never personally saw any damage to the stones or to the fields on the other side of the road to Stonehenge where the festival took place. I remember that every year we were given free rubbish bags to help clear the site and hundreds of participants were picking up bits of rubbish before leaving.

They banned all the free festivals that year no matter where they were.

After 1985 the Free Festival scene changed, it attracted people who wanted to fight with the authorities and more peaceful hippies opted out. Can you blame them?

Love and Peace

Born2rant who needs wars when you have words


  1. Yeah, I agree there’s something perverse about Glastonbury. It tries to look anti-corporate but all the bands they invite are simply crowd pullers to generate money rather than show something new and exciting. I don’t buy it. Festivals should always be free, help should be offered to causes by people directly than by proxy and artists should be chosen who’ve got something to say rather than being NME trendy.

  2. Thanks mo79uk for your insightful comment.
    Yes I would agree with you. Although there are some interesting bands at Glastonbury it’s all caught up in the ego and money thing. Some of the more interesting bands who play Glastonbury are not paid or necessarily on the bill.
    The free festivals had this spirit of people empowering themselves by setting up their own stages and encampments. It’s all about setting things up for yourself, experimenting musically and artistically and not trying to follow the rules.
    I feel that there are so many laws now and that it is so ingrained in our consciousness to conform and to please, to sell to the maximum amount of consumers ,that just a bunch of people getting up on stage and jamming isn’t possible anymore. It was through groups of people jamming and trying out different things that you got a lot of the best music.
    Now things are more structured and jam bands don’t exist so much.It’s a shame.
    I believe the Ozric Tentacles formed and met up at The Stonehenge festival 1984. I might see if I can interview them and other bands I have known for this blog.
    Thank you very much for your comment. Any other comments? I know people are reading!
    Love and peace Born3rant

  3. Just a quick correction for you mate……..It was Douglas Hurd that called us “medieval brigands” whilst we were parked at Stoney Cross, the site of the mass impounding in 1986, yet another failed attempt to eradicate us.
    Also when he was asked by the media (after plod had taken our homes to the pound) what he thought the ‘hippies’ should do now? He replied (paraphrasing) “Go ‘home’ and adopt a ‘normal’ standard of living”. He simply couldn’t conceive of those vehicles he’d ordered impounded, and signed away with a stroke of a pen, as BEING our homes. That they were ‘normal’ to us…………
    The man was, and remains, ignorant.

  4. Hello Anon-E-mouse

    Thanks for your comment.
    You’re absolutely right it was Douglas Hurd . I guess sometimes Thatcher is remembered and held responsible for her whole cabinet of repressive Tories.

    Thanks again for commenting.
    Love and Peace

  5. Still makes me mad to watch this stuff – I didn’t go on the road til 87, (though I first went to Stonehenge in 1978, aged 7!) but knew a lot of people who were there and it is a legacy which has stayed with us. People need to know about this stuff!
    Currently writing my dissertation on Travellers and their ‘autonomous geographies’. Basically – and perhaps it’s my own need to draw something positive out of it all – I am arguing that we may not be able to ‘travel’ in the same way nowadays, but Travellers have succeeded in the (perhaps) more important aim of creating a life beyond the capitalist dictates of the dominant culture. They/we are still doing our own thing!
    Mutate and Survive!
    All the best
    (PS: I’ll post you a link to my dissy when it’s finished. Also, got some other footage which my brother recorded from TV in the 1980s – news footage and stuff – which I’m currently getting edited into a watchable whole!)

    • Hello There Ruth

      Thanks so much for your comment. I would love to read your dissertation. There’s something really wrong with this country. It’s not the same everywhere. If society or when society starts to break down, maybe they will try to enforce stricter and stricter controls on the movement of people but in the final analysis the way of life of the travellers I came across, like the Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe, was not damaging to the environment or society or anyone compared to many business people who waste energy on luxurious lifestyles, heated swimming pools, many flights across the globe, throwing lavish parties, and funding cocaine dealers.

      The simple ways of living are the ones that are the most ecological and less likely to exploit others.( rant.. rant!)

      Love and peace

  6. it was so sad what happened in 1985 to the convoy,orchestrated by she-devil thatcher ,a personal friend of fascist dictator and mass-murderer augusto pinochet .after seeing what they did to the miners ,it was our turn to be oppressed ,was not at the beanfield myself,our bus broke down in lancashire.must tell you about my gran,who was in a crowd of 60,000 demonstraters on january 31st 1919 in george square,glasgow.not only were the riot police sent in ,but also the army complete with machine guns and tanks .the story can be found on red clydeside sites and should be told .lets just keep trying to make the world a better place ,dont give up . cheers t.c glasgow

    • Hello Thomas
      Thanks for your comment and your piece of history. You bring to my mind The Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, suppressed by the British army, they virtually destroyed the city centre, around 450 people shot and 1 500 wounded.
      My mother was in Paris the day of the liberation and some Nazis started to shoot in the crowds celebrating, but she survived.
      It just goes to show things can change in an instant. I don’t really think that the “security services” make us that secure unless they are on the side of the people who are not violent and are generally law abiding.
      I dread to think how many innocent civilians have been killed or detained in Iraq and Afghanistan, the news doesn’t really focus on ordinary people, more on the military.
      Also things can change, Germany is a very progressive country now and with the UK’s excessive legislation and surveillance technology we look like the nazis now!
      Anyway thanks for your comment.
      Love and Peace

  7. Hi i was also at the stonehenge 84, battle of the beanfield 85 stonehenge 86 wick 87, 88 lechlade 91 castle morton 92 spent 12 years as a traveller living on different sites around uk as north as Ayr as south as Penzance, finally came off the road in 95 the CJA 94 was the final nail in the coffin realy, now starting uni and doing project on moral panics and new age travellers, peace and love to all travellers and searchers for freedom.

  8. they called us other things too ;new age vermin,soap dodgers new age travellers etc much as i like soap dodgers none of these labels discribes the us it was tribal it was emotional it was sussed sometimes the braves had to stand out and make a fuss what we were protecting was the idea and the experience that freedom was real and necessary we won tho they beat us we passed the word on and we protected the kids ,may the road always remain open to those who love HANTA yo

  9. In addition to Ozric Tentacles, 3 US space rock bands were founded after the 1984 Stonehenge Festival by members who attended: Pressurehed, Melting Euphoria and Architectural Metaphor

    • Fascinating thanks for the comment and keep on truckin’

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