'King Arthur' loses Stonehenge case
Published 23/08/2011 | 13:01
A druid "battle chieftain" has lost the latest round of a fight to force scientists to return ancient "royal" remains to their original resting place at Stonehenge.
The Rev King Arthur Uther Pendragon, who styles himself the Battle Chieftain of the Council of British Druid Orders and Titular Head and Chosen Chief of the Loyal Arthurian Warband Druid order, failed to persuade the High Court to intervene in the row.
King Arthur - a 57-year-old former soldier from Salisbury, Wiltshire, who changed his name by deed poll - wanted the High Court to review a Government decision to allow experts to keep the remains for testing.
But Mr Justice Wyn Williams refused to give King Arthur permission to launch a judicial review action - ruling at a High Court hearing in London that there was insufficient evidence to show that the Ministry of Justice might have acted unreasonably.
The judge heard that the cremated remains of more than 40 bodies - thought to be at least 5,000 years old - were removed from a burial site at Stonehenge in 2008 and ministers gave researchers from Sheffield University permission to keep the bones until 2015.
King Arthur, who was dressed in white druid robes and represented himself, said the bones were remains of members of the "royal line" or "priest caste" who could have been the "founding fathers of this great nation".
He told the judge that he feared that the remains would never be returned but moved to a museum and said the Ministry of Justice had unreasonably failed to take account of his views. The Ministry of Justice denied his allegation.
After the hearing, King Arthur, who signed himself "Arthur Rex" on court papers, said he would continue the fight. He called for a "day of action" at Stonehenge on Monday - which, he said, would be three years to the day since the remains were removed.
King Arthur said outside court that the remains had originally been laid in a circle around the ancient Stonehenge stones - which are thought to be around 5,000 years old - and druids considered them the "guardians" of the site.
He said the remains had been removed in the 1920s and examined by archaeologists then returned to a burial pit at the Stonehenge site, which is near Salisbury. King Arthur told the judge that it was a matter of "common decency" as well as burial law that exhumed remains were returned to their original resting place.