JK Rowling sends mocking message to Just Stop Oil over Stonehenge protest

JK Rowling ridiculed Just Stop Oil protesters after they covered the ancient ruins of Stonehenge with orange cornflour spray.

The climate activists vandalised the stones on Wednesday (19 June), and demanded that the next government sign a legally binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030.

Video footage of the incident shows two people in Just Stop Oil t-shirts, named by the group as Rajan Naidu, 73, and Niamh Lynch, 21, running up to the ancient structure with what appears to be repurposed fire extinguishers filled with orange paint.

The Harry Potter author wrote on X: “Public opinion’s definitely moving, mostly towards the conclusion that you’re funded by Big Oil.”

“Let’s not target anyone or anything remotely responsible for climate change. Let’s attack a unique ancient monument to which everyone’s hugely attached, incidentally endangering rare lichen that only grows there,” she added in a reply on her post.

This incident of vandalism comes just ahead of the summer solstice on Thursday, which is the longest day of the year and therefore a spiritually significant day and site for pagans and druids. The stones are considered an epicentre of special energy, and thousands are expected to visit the site to celebrate the solstice.

Around 8,000 people gathered at Stonehenge on the solstice in 2023, and similar numbers are expected this year.

Lynch, a student from Oxford, said: “Stonehenge at solstice is all about celebrating the natural world – but look at the state it’s in! We all have a right to live a life free from suffering, but continued burning of oil, coal and gas is leading to death and suffering on an unparalleled scale.

“It’s time for us to think about what our civilisation will leave behind – what is our legacy? Standing inert for generations works well for stones – not climate policy.”

Screen grab taken from handout video of Just Stop Oil protesters spraying an orange substance on Stonehenge (PA Media)
Screen grab taken from handout video of Just Stop Oil protesters spraying an orange substance on Stonehenge (PA Media)

Just Stop Oil has said in a statement that the substance used to douse the stones was washable orange cornflour.

A Just Stop Oil spokesperson said: “Failure to commit to defending our communities will mean Just Stop Oil supporters, along with citizens from Austria, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland, will join in resistance this summer, if their own governments do not take meaningful action.

“Stone circles can be found in every part of Europe, showing how we’ve always cooperated across vast distances – we’re building on that legacy.”

“Either we end the fossil fuel era, or the fossil fuel era will end us,” Naidu said in quotes provided by Just Stop Oil.

“The orange cornflour we used to create an eye-catching spectacle will soon wash away with the rain, but the urgent need for effective government action to mitigate the catastrophic consequences of the climate and ecological crisis will not. Sign the treaty!”

Prime minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer, as well as Oasis star Liam Gallagher condemned the protest.

Sunak said that the campaign group should be “ashamed of their activists” while Starmer added, “The damage done to Stonehenge is outrageous. Just Stop Oil are pathetic. Those responsible must face the full force of the law.”

Gallagher posted on social media, warning: “Don’t f*** with the stones man, they have mystical powers. Hope they all wake up tmoz and are all orange toads.”

Both activists have been arrested by the Wiltshire police “on suspicion of damaging the ancient monument”.

Stonehenge continues to remain open to the public.

English Heritage said experts were assessing the “extent of the damage” to the stones, which they describe as perhaps the world’s most famous prehistoric monument.

A spokesperson said: “Orange powdered paint has been thrown at a number of the stones at Stonehenge. Obviously this is extremely upsetting, and our curators are investigating the extent of the damage. Stonehenge remains open to the public.”