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"Could that many people gather together today with only minimal communal organisation and such a relatively small amount of trouble but so much pleasure? The question is irrelevant. They would never allow us."

Stonehenge Free Festival chronology.


The scale of the 1978 festival was generally "small is beautiful "and the ethos of many who attended less focussed on pure hedonism than that of the later years

photo © Zephyr Grayland

  The decision to evict thousands of squatters from the London boroughs at the end of the 70s was one of the reasons in the growth of the travellers movement and the eventual rise of the Peace Convoy at Stonehenge in 1982.

Bands who played at the 78 festival 1978 included Hawkwind ,Sphynx , Here And Now, Gross Catastrophe, The Mob, Seventh Angel and Bronz. At this stage the festival was still very much small scale with only a few thousand attending . The weather was pretty poxy at times and there are reports of the festival goers moving onto Glastonbury because they had been rained out .

Photo above courtesy of Luke B go visit his photo site , plenty more nice festy pix

Henge 78 photogallery ( updated ,May 2016 )

Honeymoon at Stonehenge !

Spike , who went on to set up stalls at later Henge's has this to report

   My sweet lady wife and myself honeymooned at Stonehenge in 1978 3 years before we started to run the badge stall. Oh what fun we had, arrived in a blustery gale having driven in convoy across Blackdown at some ungodly time of the night and spent several hours trying to put up geodesic domes in the dark and the wind, all this to the accompaniment of the dread Cosmic Wailer (does anyone out there remember this awesome gent).

Did you ever go to a festival and listen to the putting up the frame tent in the dark sketch ? .It goes like this-

1) You leave London at 2 in the morning having drunk intemperate amounts of beer in a borrowed car with the driver pissed and equipped with a 1920s road atlas of Britain

2 ) You smoke vast amounts of exceedingly fine Lebanese hash all the way down the A303

3) You arrive at the site at 3-30 in the morning-knackered-and needing to sleeeeeeep.

4) Unfortunately you have a 5 bedroom+kitchen+lounge frame tent that you have borrowed and have no idea how to erect. it......... it comes complete.with at least 2 poles & 3 connectors missing.

5) I leave the rest to your imagination ,except to say that you will be still up ,living in a 2 foot high construction ,will not miss the midsummer sunrise, will provide hours of amusement for your more sussed neighbours, and keep smug bastards like me awake all night

© Martin Starnes

Stroked out the henge 1978.

© Martin Starnes


    We have photos of Nick Turner turning up with the Tantric pyramid stage which always gave rise to the other great festival sketch
1) You leave London at midnight having drunk an intemperate amount of beer , drive down the A303 whilst smoking a large quantity of Leban................... you get the idea ,even down to the map........
2) You arrive on site ..shall we say wasted.. in , or on , a fucked truck and decide to put the stage up immediately.
3 ) It's a big site where do we put the fucker for best effect?
4 ) Well lets half build it and carry it about the place until it feels right.!!!
5 ) Christ this scaffold is getting fucking heavy (by now you have about 60 volunteers roused from their snug doss bags by the racket +my wife taking photos of the fun)
6. This'll fucking do- 2 hours later.....facing the stones and in time to blow the bleedin' druids away.........

Well that's how I remember it anyway,and we do have the photos......

© Martin Starnes

Steve remembers the bands at the 1978 festival in some detail

    It was one of my teachers, though, who told me that the fuss being kicked up by the farmer on whose land the festival took place, was something of an exercise in hypocrisy. Apparently he had been paid by the Department of the Environment to not fence off his land….so that the hippies would go there and not into the monument itself. This information had come to him from a Wiltshire County Councillor. The festival was more-or-less tolerated in those days, although it was a no-go zone for the police. At one point a van full of them drove into the encampment to arrest somebody – the van was surrounded by about 50 hippies, who rocked it from side to side and threw policemen’s helmets up into the air. The plods beat a less than dignified retreat while everyone who saw it hooted with laughter.

   I remember more about the music that year. I saw Nik Turner’s Sphynx and they were pretty good. There was also a French band from Metz, called Gross Catastrophe. They played thunderous jazz-rock improvisations and went down very well, being asked back to play a second set a couple of days after their first one. I also saw The Mob, a very rough punk band from Yeovil. The drummer did some of the singing and the frontman had a cheapo black Arbiter guitar exactly like mine…they were awful. A lot of the bands who played were not hippie-ish at all, merely uninspired straight bands who probably would never have any other opportunity to play to more than a handful of people. One of the better unknown bands that played that year (I think) were "Seventh Angel" whom I remember as Uriah Heep wannabes…
    There was a low-power laser as part of the stage/lights set-up, which did nothing much except project a fuzzy red dot onto the front of the stage, upon which you could not focus. Being in the open air, there was never enough smoke to show up the beam. The weather wasn't great, I recall it being pretty damp when Sphynx played…and they were the kind of band who got a sitting audience rather than a standing one: everyone ended up with a soggy arse. I lay on my back looking up at the stars, and saw something moving, like a satellite, that split into two, with the 2 halves of whatever-it-was moving off in a Y-shaped trajectory. I hadn't taken any drugs and was quite clear-headed. It reminded me of the hot air balloon of the year before. The festival just seemed to be the kind of place where you would see strange things in the sky…

© Martin Starnes

I came to the Stonehenge free festival purely by accident. I had been hitchhiking around the country and wound up camping on Glastonbury Tor. I didn't get much sleep there. Polecats were attacking rabbits all night long and in the dead of night a cow walked right through the middle of my tent.

On the Tor I ran into some young lads who were AWOL from the local military camp, on their way to the festival. They offered to give me a lift there and so I squeezed into the back of their Morris estate. We had a lovely time sharing a pin of scrumpy (the first time I'd tried it) and got to the festival fairly early. The bender people had just arrived and were setting up. I pitched my little ridge tent and the soldiers set up next to me in an ancient canvas military cape converted into a tent. I had next to no money but people were kind and gave me food and I painted faces. It was cold and damp and everyone was wearing blankets.

One night a big storm blew up - torrential rain and high winds. I woke up the next morning to find the soldiers and a couple of half-in, half out strangers who had tried to squeeze into my tent after theirs had collapsed during the night. There was no room so some were sleeping with there legs sticking out. I crawled over the bodies to discover my little tent standing almost alone amongst an apocalypse of flattened, drowned smaller tents with only the teepes and larger tents still standing.

The atmosphere was amazing. The festival was much smaller then than it was went I went again in 1983. On the night before the Solstice, the sky was clear and there was a huge, beautiful, bright full moon in the sky. I went into the woods nearby with a flaming torch and listened to people running through the woods, howling and shrieking. A memory that is still etched in my mind. There was a powerful sense of the veil between our world and the next being stretched very, very thin that night. the next morning, at dawn, we went to the stones where I just sat and meditated, whilst others hugged the stones or danced. One man used his blanket and various postures to mimic the different stones. I watched him over a period of a couple of hours. Fascinating.

I think of these times a lot, and I mourn the loss of total freedom and self expression that we had then. Great times.


Best wishes,


The squaddies © Zephyr Grayland

Sunrise, or sunset © Zephyr Grayland


The Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe Tent lurks behind the ubiquitous Tranny ,Stonehenge 1978.

© Martin Starnes

Teepees at the Henge 1978 © Janet Thompson

Hull contingent Henge 78 © Janet Thompson

© Pobble

© Pobble

Release Festival Report.

Here and Now at Stonehenge 1978

Tashs road vehicle photos

Here & Now 06/19/78
Stonehenge Free Festival, Wiltshire, England

1. Improvisation
2. What You See Is What You Are
3. Zero (Changes)
4. Allez Ali Baba
5. Stonehenge Jam
6. Dog In Hell
7. Floating Anarchy
8. New Age Transformation Try (introduced & begun as "Zero Gets Lost At Stonehenge Festival")
9. Opium For The People

This is a different performance to that which is partly released on the "What You See Is What You Are" LP, but from the same festival. That was recorded on the afternoon of the 20th June 1978.

Here & Now
1. What You See Is What You Are
2. Dog In Hell
3. Addicted
Alternative TV
4. Action Time Lemon
5. Going Round In Circles
6. Fellow Sufferer
7. Splitting In Two
Line-up / Musicians
- Keith Th' Bass / bass
- Gavin Da Blitz / keyboards
- Steffe Sharpstrings / guitar
- Kif Kif Le Batter / drums
- Suze Da Blooze, Annie Wombat / choir of angels

Henge Documents

Henge History :1972-1984


Peace Convoy:1982-85

Free festivals in the UK 1960-1992

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Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

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