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Updated July 2021

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This site is dedicated in the memory of

Roger Hutchinson,

who inspired me to delve deep into the magic of the free festival and who passed away Sept 3rd 2010.

R.I.P. Roger .....


Cantlin Stone Free Festival .

Clun Forest .

July 4th-10th? -1980.

July 3rd –13th 1981.

August 1st – 4th 1983.

August 1st – 5th 1984

August 1st – 4th 1985

August 1st – 4th 1986

July 31st – 3rd August 1987

August 5th – 7th 1988.

August 4th – 6th 1989.

August 1990.


Flyer courtesy Pip

   This site was used on and off during the 80s as a site for various meetings or festivals by the traveller community . Situated off the Kerry Ridgeway, in the heart of the Clun Forest in Shropshire, the Cantlin Stone marks the spot where a local pedlar, William Cantlin, was robbed and murdered while walking between farms in 1691. In 1991 those who arrived were prevented from entering the site and the action took place at Llanbister.


The Cantin Stone . All photos © Herb

We think the first festival held here was the 1980 event , and then gatherings were held over the next ten years or so . 1987 hosted only 20 vehicles all of whom were evicted after a week. Most of these festivals did not actually feature music and bands ,they were peaceful parkups that were in a pretty mystical setting and the only people who attended were ( like the pranksters of the 1960s ) pretty well "into the pudding " , wanting to get away from the rat race of the city and chill out with nature.

F.W.S Report

Cantlin Stone Free Festival July 4th + 1980.

I arrived at the turning off the road, up a track to the festival site at about 6pm on Friday 4th July, and stopped to ask some people in a car if I was going the right way. It turned out they were drug-squad officers, who wanted to search my van because I was going to the festival. I explained who I was and what I was doing, but they hadn't heard of Festival Welfare Services, and made-radio checks with my details. After they had made a brief search of my van, I went on up the track to find the festival site.

The site itself was a piece of rough grassland and heather in a clearing in thick pine woods. It was quite flat, even though high up. It was difficult to get vehicles onto the site as the access track became very muddy, and so most vehicles were left up on the roadway and tipis and tents pitched on the site.

Right : The inscription on the Stone © Herb

When I arrived, about 100 people were camping, and Release had set up a small welfare post. There was plenty of dead wood for campfires available in the nearby woods. dater was being brought onto site from taps in the nearest villages, or was obtained from a stream next to the site. Release ,put up site notices advising people to boil the water before drinking it and not to cut down living trees. Some small latrine trenches were dug, but most people used the bushes and woods. Some mess was caused but on the whole, excrement was easily buried in the soft earth and forest flooring.

Over the weekend 2 - 300 people camped at the festival. There was no stage but accoustic music was played around the campfires and car cassettes and radios were played. Many people were young inhabitants of the area and Wales, and some of the local people came up to visit the festival.

There were plenty of food vans and kitchens on site over the weekend, selling a wide selection of food at very reasonable prices, and there was also a free food kitchen. There were stalls selling crafts and produce.

Release were very busy over the weekend dealing with people who were very distressed at having been stopped and searched by the police on their way to the festival. It seemed that over the weekend almost every one entering or leaving the festival site was stopped and searched by the police. I was stopped in my hired van when leaving the site to go shopping on Saturday. I was detained for nearly an hour at the side of the road whilst all my belongings were taken out of the van and thoroughly searched and a policedog was put in the back of the van. My details and those of two welfare volunteer passengers with me, were again radioed through for checking. Needless to say, we were very upset and annoyed with the delay and inconvenience this caused, and hoped it wouldn't happen if the welfare workers were taking an emergency to hospital. Fortunately there were no accidents on site and Release dealt only with a few minor cuts and stomach upsets. Many of the people distressed by the humiliation of the Police searches were intending to make formal complaints.

After the weekend the numbers on site reduced, some people leaving to go on another free festival north of Bristol. There were rumours that the people from this this festival would make their way up to the Cantlin Stone site, but by mid week, when I left, it did not seem as if this was likely to happen.

I had been in contact with the local authority environmental health department before and during the festival. Release had taken rubbish sacks onto the site and distributed them to the festival people, who collected up their litter. The full sacks were piled at the side of the road and arrangements were made for the sacks to be collected by the council rubbish lorry.

Apart from the overwhelming police activity, the festival went very smoothly with few problems.

Penny Mellor.


Pip adds

Hi To All,
I was there as I remember going but as to remembering much else im glad to say my mind is a blank so you can take it we had a good time. I do remember pigs being over the top with heavy presence and searching every man and beast (we had a dog that had to be searched) that entered and left the site.
Anywhoo..... Ive got a poster/Flyer for the fezzie I've been hoarding all these years as I knew that someone would have a use for it one day.... Like you do.
Thanks for a cool site and I hope you can use the flyer.
Keep the beat.

Can anyone help identify the vans and busses in the photos ? If so Contact us !

August 1st – 4th 1986

1986 © Herb

Herb, who kindly sent us the photos, attended the years from 1986 to 1990 and recollects his time there thus :

Cantlin stone in Clun forest was a favourite festival for me even though I went just for the weekend. You never knew who would be there sometimes hardly anybody sometimes quite a few people. I first went in 86 with a mate after seeing it listed in Festival Eye for the end of July / first week in August. The site was a bit off the beaten track, being high up on the Kerry ridgeway on the Shropshire and Powys border which I think added to the attraction. There were not so many people when we were there, but it was great just chatting round the campfire with just the sound of the wind blowing through the forest.

July 31st – 3rd August 1987

1987 , mist shrouds the buses © Herb

Bedford Panorama on left. The Bedford SB to the right - The " Battle Bus" later moved to Europe in the 90s .

In 87 three of us went on two Triumph Bonnevilles and it absolutely poured with rain. We only had a plastic sheet between the bikes. There were quite a few vehicles then and a few coaches. I remember us getting some marmite sandwiches from one coach in the morning and they were debating whether to charge for them saying that we were the bikers camped out last night in the appalling rain.

The red and green truck in the picture is Beastie Girl, my TK. She was a mobile film unit in 1986 when I bought her from people living in the Free State of Frestonia in London (see article)

I drove her from West London to Shropshire where we parked at Leintwardine (Lentilbean) housing coop and I gave her the paint job, transforming her from matt black to her Romany Red and Buckingham Green livery. I lived in her for a couple of years, taking her to Glastonbury where Julian painted her name on the cab in circus lettering, and travelling to Cantlin Stone with the dear departed Danny Hathaway of the Battle bus.

I sold her to my good friends Tet and Lors in 1988 just after the hurricane which hit Kent hard, where we were all living on site. I had just bought a Commer Q4.

Netty Miles


The police also came round saying that we had to move on. I got talking to the main copper, who seemed friendly, asking him about the origin of the name Cantlin stone. (William Cantlin was an itinerant who died near this remote spot in 1691, a roughly inscribed memorial stone, with it’s later ornate Victorian marker cross stands off the Ridgeway, hidden behind trees), and about the history of the Festival.


He told me that originally the festival was tolerated and that the locals even looked forward to it. But one year there was another site nearby and there were a lot of people going between the sites and this scared the locals. I asked him whether riot Police would come and move us on using violence and he said he would have no part in that. I went in 88 and it was low key with no coaches and music only from car radios.

August 5th – 7th 1988.




August 4th – 6th 1989.

In 89 a few of us went on bikes and there were some guys with a small generator and a band, the only time I saw a band at Cantlin stone.They were a bit worried that the Police would hassle them as they might be viewed as holding people back from departing the site. There were also a quite few traveller people there.




August 1990.
in 1990 there was a lot more people there with a mix of vehicles, the weather was also great, but no stage or bands while we were there but this was the best I had seen it. Little did I know that this would be the last time for me.













In 1991 by the time we got there everybody had moved on to Llanbister. When I went back to the Cantlin stone site some months later a ditch had been dug along all the tracks around the site presumably to prevent any vehicles parking up there in the future.

i was at cantlin stone festival in 81.Paul Bigland and myself hitched down from southport travelling the last mile hanging off a single seat tractor as it bounced over the fields..the toxteth riots where happening and there seemed to be a lot of tension around other towns and cities(introduction of poll tax if my memory serves me) consequently there was very little police presence, in fact we got stopped once by the police and asked if we where looking for the festival site and given directions..On arriving we pitched tents next to release,mine wasnt waterproof so with a big sheet of white plastic we covered said nightfall the white sides of the tent where literally covered in felt tip pen signs and remarks all based on the toxteth riots,,I remember one event that happened quite clearly a baby was born in one of the convoy vans.It was a good week.Its a pity these free events have since been hounded and stopped by the state. 

Unidentified years

© John McNally

© John McNally

© John McNally

© John McNally

© John McNally

© Chrissie Ferngrove

© Chrissie Ferngrove

© Chrissie Ferngrove

The bendermoggie © Chrissie Ferngrove

Former London Transport RF 89 LYF440 © Chrissie Ferngrove

© Chrissie Ferngrove

© Chrissie Ferngrove

Can anyone identify the year these pics were taken ? © Chrissie Ferngrove

Free Festivals List

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Free festivals and small fayres held in the United Kingdom between 1967-90.




  • Windsor Peoples Free Festival 1972-74
 Free festival related articles
Pay Festivals- Benefits for Travellers aid.

Main list of Free festivals 1970-1985

Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s



We are proud of the contribution we have made to Andy Worthington's sociological history of Stonehenge and the free festival scene in the UK .This new book gives a fascinating insight into the various counter cultural obsessions with the Stones and provides a variety of new perspectives to many of the key events surrounding the Henge such as the Battle Of The Beanfield and the more recent attempts hold a celebration at the Stones during the Solstice.


Find out more about this great book by clicking on the image on the left and visit the Heart of Albion Press web site .

Sending details of a small book I've just self-published which might be of interest to some readers of your admirable site.

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Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe-surreal pranksters of the Traveller community .

Acidia Lightshow Lightshow for Windsor festival and Stonehenge in the 1970s.

Traveller Daves Website - Chock full of of free festival photos !

Many, many thanks go to Roger Hutchinson , Big Steve , Roger Duncan, Celia, Will , Chazz, Jeza ,Chris Hewitt ,The Fabulous Time Tortoise , Peter Piwowarski - ( 70s music site/photos ) Martin S, Steve Austin ,Traveller Dave, Herb, Tim Brighton, Vin Miles, Haze Evans , Noddy Guevara, Chris Brown, Janet Thompson, David Stooke, Gary Gibbons , Nigel Ayers, Rich Deakin ,Glenda Pescardo,Justin Warman,Brian F, Steve Bayfield, Kev Ellis, Paul Seaton and many other minor contributors for their help in providing the archival material related to these free festivals which has at enabled us to construct the site .

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