Sacred Grove Western Isles

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SGWI Response to Ministry of Justice public consultation on Stonehenge Ancestors's reburial & eventual M of J Decision Reburials & JUDICIAL REVIEW UPDATES [scroll down] - page B



  This Response letter below regarding the

reburial issue at Stonehenge was sent on behalf of interested parties by S,G,W,I  to Andrew Tucker Coroners, Burials and Legal Services at the Ministry of Justice,



 9 August 2010
 For the attention of Mr Andrew Tucker
  Coroners, Burials and Legal Services Regulation and Redress
  Ministry of Justice
  4th Floor, 102 Petty France
  London SW1H 9AJ
Dear Mr Tucker
 Further to our discussion, please find below our official response to the proposal by Sheffield University Riverside Project
to retain until 2015 and possibly beyond, the cremated human remains uplifted from the Stonehenge Aubrey hole in 2008 by Mr Mike Parker Pearson.
Overview Response
On the whole, with respect to those of us who find uplifting human remains abhorrent, and also to those who take a view that bones are just one aspect,
 as a group we are content that research needs to be carried out on the human remains taken from Stonehenge in 2008.
The recent two year's research resulted in the respectful separation of the individuals, whose human remains were removed originally from their resting places and then scandalously dumped together in one hole.
We now respectfully request that they be returned directly to Stonehenge for reburial separately as the ancestors undertook, and after consulting with each other, we offer the following reasons for that request: 

 Research implications for continued retention without release 
We have been informed that post graduate doctorate research will be carried out by a member of the Riverside Project, namely Ms Christie Cox Willis, 
who will be supervised, we gather, by Jacqui McKinley and Mike Parker Pearson, University of Sheffield.
Two years' research have already resulted in the separation of the numerous male/female/child groupings and considering/evaluating much of the previous research carried out prior to their being deposited in a communal pit where in they were  found in 2008.
We have a few questions and comments to put to the Dept of Justice if we may, and trust you will consider these when making your decision whether or not to allow further tranches of bi-annual reviews, or to allow the extension to continue past any review until 2015 at least.


1. The timescale of subsequent research is critical to those who objected to the removal of the bones in the first place;
this was mooted at the time and consequently by ourselves, Honouring the Ancient Dead and many other organisations.
 Why was there no updating of the expected timeline, bearing in mind nobody outside the University would have known that a doctorate by a pregnant student would obviously entail a legally applied [and rarely refused] opportunity for nearly a year's absence on statutory maternity leave from the research project?
2. Why has a part time post grad student been given no greater assistance over the past two years  to research what in Parker-Pearson's own description is
a highly significant and prestigious archaeological analytical opportunity?
3. Why had the Riverside Project not made arrangements  for eminent and skilled researchers to be available at the predicted end of the time-limited dig
as per the licence from English Heritage?
4. Bearing in mind the essence of all prime academic research is to ensure it is carried out as effectively and efficiently as possible, in order to resist later criticisms by peer reviews  that opportunities for preservation of raw data prior to qualitative or quantitative [or a mixture of both] research and analysis,  we are disturbed that such an eminent department that is part of the University of Sheffield seems to have failed to ensure that timely research was more effectively enabled. Would the Dept of Justice consider approaching the departmental head of post graduate research relevant to this project, namely Prof Paul Halstead, E-Mail: [email protected]  in order to request answers as to why  one part time student will undertake such a prestigious task?
5. Forensic anthropologists use sawn slivers, relative to PIXE [particle induced x ray emission] for analysis, so could not this process be utilised effectively so that the bones can be returned/reburied as soon as possible?  You may find useful this paper on a similar project proving tiny fragments yield adequate data,
 especially where ancient cremated remains have been badly preserved.

  Lack of Respect To the Dead

Whatever the reason, whoever carried out those acts of burial, they were our ancestoral and cultural predecessors  living, working, and dying in these islands
 and the ritual and ceremonial duties to the dead which they carried out should be honoured by us,  their descendants and stewards of the land they shared with us.
How much more research can be carried out, beyond assessment of age, sex and stature, and any pathological conditions from which the individuals may have suffered etc?
With constant academic peer reviews [without which a doctorate is nigh worthless] to be considered there is little chance these bones will ever be returned to Stonehenge - unless pertinent slivers only are taken prior to reburial!
  Lack of Respect To the Living
It was most evident in the summer of 2008 that English Heritage,  regardless of its historically close involvement and co-operation with senior druids/members of the Stonehenge Round Table/HAD  and other such interested parties,  missed a valuable opportunity to enhance and progress those partnerships  by omitting to warn either them or any other pagans/druids/travellers/members of the public  who regularly attend and are known to customarily use Stonehenge as a sacred ceremonial gathering site.
The request to continue to hold these human remains is also in direct opposition to the signatures of many foreign visitors to Stonehenge and indigenous residents of the Western Isles [UK] amounting to over 5,000 [at June 2010] it is known that approximately 40 diverse belief paths and religions are represented in those signatories, all adverse to the retention of human remains that had purposefully been placed inside the Stones in a particular fashion and selected burial holes.
We are sure you are aware  that we are only able to resort to what may amount to be emotive or cultural or religious/belief induced objections  to any extension of time for retention of the human remains taken from Stonehenge in 2008.
Therefore, as declared non-professionals and incompetent in the science of osteology-archaeology, we can only ask you to kindly and justly consider the above questions in relation to our request not to grant additional research time allowed to be spent on this project.
Many of us taking part in this debate may not live to see its fruition, but the torch will be passed on when we pass, for these bones were not placed in a communal grave by our ancestors, nor alone on a hillside barrow,  they were carefully, thoughtfully and particularly placed in separate holes, in a circle, within the Stones of Stonehenge  they need to be returned.
 Yours sincerely 
  Sacred Grove Western Isles

  9 August 2010

Dear S,G,W,I
Thanks for your e-mail letting us know your views.
The points you raise will be taken into consideration in any decision taken, along with any other submissions received.
Best wishes

Andrew Tucker
Coroners, Burials and Legal Services Regulation and Redress
Ministry of Justice
4th Floor, 102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ

STOP PRESS Received by email 2 November 2010

We have written back specifically asking when is the earliest date IN 2015 that reinterment will occur, is it a matter of course or do we have to apply for that, whether pagans will be notified promptly especially those involved in this consultation regarding ceremony etc - will post reply as soon as its received:

" Dear
 This is an email to let you know that a decision has now been reached in this matter. Careful thought has been given to the arguments put forward by all parties. While druid representatives have set out clearly the reasons why they believe the remains should be re-buried without delay, the significance of the remains from what is a World Heritage Site was alsotaken into account.

 Permission for the original excavation was only granted after very careful consideration, and the interests of stakeholders including Druids and Pagans were considered. While it is unfortunate that that the time needed to undertake the research work was underestimated, it is not considered right to curtail the work that has been carried out so far.

The decision has therefore been made to grant an extension to the re-burial condition for five years, in accordance with the application made on behalf of the Stonehenge Riverside Project. Instructions for the licence to be amended have therefore been given. However, it is proposed that once the work has been completed the religious views of the Pagans and Druids will be respected and the remains reinterned.

Rupert Clayton
Coroners And Burials Division
Ministry of Justice
Fourth Floor102 Petty France
London SW1H 9AJ

Sent: 02 November 2010 14:51
To: Clayton, Rupert
Subject: Re: Stonehenge: application to defer reburial of human remains

Dear Mr Clayton,

I do appreciate your comments and notice of your decision, and note that
in five years the remains will be reinterred.

May I ask you to please confirm:

1. Whether reinternment after five years from 2010, ie 2015, is now a fete accompli or will we have to make formal requests for this to be
carried out after a certain date?

2. Would you please confirm what the earliest date for reinternment might be?

3. Who would carry out the reinternment?

4. Will you contact the druid and pagan communities who have been in contact with you regarding this issue in good time to enable us to organise to be present and conduct a suitable ceremony please?


REPLY FROM Rupert Clayton has taken over from Andrew Tucker regarding the Stonehenge reburials - tel 020 3334 6389 SW1H 9AJ

02 November 2010 15:30

To answer your questions in the same order:-

1) At the expiry of the five years the MoJ would expect the remains to be reburied. You would not have to make a formal request for this to

2) I cannot confirm any date at present. However, the remains could be reinterred at any point within the next five years if the work is completed before then.

3) This is a matter for the licence holder to determine.

4) We will of course keep in contact with druid and pagan communities regarding this.

I hope this helps.
Rupert Clayton
Coroners And Burials Division
Ministry of Justice
Fourth Floor
102 Petty France