KING Arthur Pendragon has accused conservationists of using vandalism at Stonehenge as an excuse to ban open access to the stones.

Monument protection blog the Heritage Journal called for an end to open access to Stonehenge in response to oil being daubed on the stones at the winter solstice.

But Arthur believes they simply do not want people near the monument and are attempting to use the damage to their advantage.

He said: “As for the Heritage Journal, calling for an end to managed open access, they’ve been doing that since they were formed in the first place.

“Basically they’re just a number of archaeologists who don’t want ‘the great unwashed’, as they see it, anywhere near Stonehenge.”

The stones were marked with graffiti, gum and oil after the December solstice.

English Heritage said in a statement: “Unfortunately some damage did occur to the stones during the most recent winter solstice when a number of stones were marked with oil.”

The senior druid condemned the vandalism and said it was nothing to do with any kind of pagan ritual.

Arthur said: “Obviously we abhor the vandalism.

“We always keep an eye out for these sorts of things. From my point of view, as a druid and a pagan priest, it’s not on.

“Were I to see anybody vandalising stones, I’d tell them to stop.”

He was less concerned about the graffiti as it was done with chalk, but said the oil seemed to be a pre-planned act of vandalism and had not yet been removed.

Arthur is working together with police and security to find out what happened.

He said: “We’re as annoyed about it as everybody else but we’ve also been looking into it, along with the police and English Heritage.”

English Heritage reviews its open access policy every year and has confirmed the summer solstice will be open access as usual this year.