A SENIOR druid who took English Heritage to court over the right to worship at Stonehenge during the Solstice without having to pay for parking today lost his battle.

King Arthur Pendragon, from Salisbury, started legal action after parking charges at the prehistoric monument were introduced for the first time during the Summer Solstice on June 20, 2016.

Representing himself at Salisbury County Court, he argued his human rights had been breached because, as a result of not having any money to pay the £5 parking fee for motorbikes, he was denied entry and was unable to worship at the stone circle.

He told the small claims court English Heritage (EH) had threatened they would tow his motorbike away and although he had spent two hours "trying to convince" them to let him in for free, they refused, meaning he was not able to attend the solstice or lead the dawn ceremony as he had done in previous years.

Before the solstice, he had organised two protests at the ancient monument against the imposed charges and had made it clear to EH he would refuse to pay.

On the day of the solstice he arrived with a document detailing the breaches to his human rights and told the court he was "astonished" EH did not let him in.

But today, District Judge Nigel Brookes ruled Mr Pendragon had failed to establish that EH had contravened any of his human rights and dismissed the claim.

Acting for EH, barrister Jamie Mathieson said: "EH did not prevent Mr Pendragon from attending the stones or worshipping at the stones - he could have attended by bus, paid for car parking, parked elsewhere, walked or made alternative arrangements. He chose not to."

He said claims by Mr Pendragon that he had been singled out were "entirely unfounded", adding that to have let him park for free would have been an act of discrimination against those paying.

Giving evidence, Stonehenge Visitor Centre general manager Kate Davies said the parking charges had been introduced to discourage the number of cars turning up to the event.

The charity which has to rent extra land for parking space during the solstice wanted to avoid incurring further costs and aimed to relieve traffic congestion on the roads.

She said measures had been taken to encourage car sharing and the use of public transport.

Mr Pendragon based the legal action on Articles 9, 10, 11 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, saying he had the right to worship at Stonehenge without unnecessary restriction or hindrance from English Heritage.

He argued the monument had been given to the nation by its former owner Sir Cecil Chubb who ran the Fisherton House Asylum in Salisbury and that there had been a betrayal of trust by EH in charging for parking.

Mr Pendragon also highlighted an assertion by EH during a public inquiry in 2011 relating to a byway close to the stones that parking would remain free for everyone during the solstice.

But the judge ruled assertions were not binding in law and that policies of organisations such as EH change over time, adding that EH had been "at pains" to emphasise access to the Stonehenge monument itself was free during the solstice.

Mr Pendragon who relies on his faith community for sustenance, having no income or savings, was also told that not having any money on the occasion was no defence.

Following the ruling, Mr Pendragon made an application to appeal the decision which was immediately turned down by the district judge.

He has 21 days to make another application for appeal before the circuit judge which he is looking into.

Speaking after the decision Mr Pendragon said: "I think the judge was very fair, I don't necessarily agree with him and I may look to take this to appeal.

"Even if I don't, I will be upping my protests at Stonehenge because I think it's outrageous that we are expected to pay to pray. No other religion or spirituality would be expected to do this. They can dress it up and call it parking charges but it isn't.

"It's £15 for a car and it will just increase all the time until all the local people are priced out of it and it will instead become full of Champagne Charlies."

Welcoming the ruling, EH's acting general manager for Stonehenge Jennifer Davies said: "We are glad that the judge has ruled in out favour. We received a lot of support for the changes we introduced last year, from the public and from those who help us to organise the celebrations, including the pagan and druid community. 

"Reducing the costs of providing parking for Summer Solstice means less money is diverted away from caring for Stonehenge and other important historic and prehistoric sites for this and future generations."

EH said the solstice event costs around £300,000 each year to provide parking and safe access for revellers.