Climate protesters spray Stonehenge monument with orange paint; two arrested

Two people sit cross-legged on the ground in front of orange-smudged  monoliths of Stonehenge
Two protesters sit on the ground after spraying orange paint on the monoliths of Stonehenge in Salisbury, England, on Wednesday.
(Just Stop Oil via AP)
Share via

Two climate protesters were arrested Wednesday after spraying orange paint on the ancient Stonehenge monument in southern England, police said.

The latest act by the group Just Stop Oil was quickly condemned by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as a “disgraceful act of vandalism.” Labor leader Keir Starmer, his main opponent in the election next month, called the group “pathetic” and said the damage was “outrageous.”

The incident came just a day before thousands are expected to gather at the 4,500-year-old stone circle to celebrate the summer solstice — the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.


Climate protesters have thrown soup over Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in London’s National Gallery to protest fossil fuel extraction.

Oct. 14, 2022

English Heritage, which manages the site, said the vandalism was “extremely upsetting” and said curators were investigating the damage. Just Stop Oil said on the social media platform X that the paint was made of cornstarch and would dissolve in the rain.

Wiltshire police said the pair were arrested on suspicion of damaging one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Stonehenge was built on the flatlands of the Salisbury Plain in stages starting 5,000 years ago, with the unique stone circle erected in the late Neolithic period about 2,500 BC.

Some of the stones, called bluestones, are known to have come from southwest Wales, nearly 150 miles away, but the origins of others remain a mystery.

Climate activists spray orange paint on Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to urge the German government to take more urgent action against climate change.

Sept. 17, 2023

Just Stop Oil is one of many groups around Europe that have gained attention — and received a lot of criticism — for disrupting sporting events, splashing paint and food on famous works of art and interrupting traffic to draw attention to global warming.

The group said it acted in response to the Labor Party’s recent election manifesto.

Labor has said that if it wins the election on July 4, it would not issue further licenses for oil and gas exploration. Just Stop Oil backs the moratorium but said it doesn’t go far enough.


In a statement, the group said Labor, which is leading in polls and widely expected by pundits and politicians to lead the next government, needs to sign a treatyto phase out fossil fuels by 2030.

“Continuing to burn coal, oil and gas will result in the death of millions,” the group said in a statement.

Melley writes for the Associated Press.