The Battle of the Beanfield

Edited by Andy Worthington

The front cover of "The Battle of the Beanfield," edited by Andy Worthington.

With photos and contributions by Alan Lodge, Tim Malyon, Neil Goodwin, Gareth Morris, Alan Dearling and others.

Published by Enabler Publications, June 2005.
ISBN 0 9523316 6 7.
235 x 170 mm,
240 pages,
102 photos and illustrations, three maps,
paperback, £9.95 SPECIAL OFFER (RRP £12.95).

See bottom of page for details of how to order from the author — payment via PayPal or by cheque (UK orders only). Please see here for information on how to order a copy from the author from anywhere else in the world.

As featured in the Observer, the Independent and the Western Daily Press. I also wrote an article for the Guardian to mark the 24th anniversary of the Beanfield — and see this article too, from 2009, this one from 2010 and this one from 2012, which has over 6,600 Facebook likes, and also see my articles from 20132014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, the 2019 offering, 34 Years On from the Battle of the Beanfield, Is Widespread Environmental Dissent Conceivable?, bringing the story up to date with a focus on the new movements calling for urgent action to tackle the unfolding environmental crisis, the 2020 article, marking the Beanfield’s 35th anniversary, and the 2021 and 2022 articles, looking at continued assaults by the Tory government on the very existence of Gypsies and Travellers.

About the book

On June 1st 1985, a convoy of new travellers, peace protestors, green activists and festival-goers set off from Savernake Forest in Wiltshire to establish the 12th annual free festival at Stonehenge. There were around 450 people in total, and they included a number of women and children.

They never reached their destination.

Eight miles from the Stones they were ambushed, assaulted and arrested with unprecedented brutality by a quasi-military police force of over 1,300 officers drawn from six counties and the MoD.

That event has gone down in history as ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’. This book is the combined effort of a large number of people who feel passionately that only through reaching an understanding of what actually occurred before, during and after ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’ can a proper ‘closure’ take place for those involved and the many people who have been in some way touched by it.

The 14 chapters feature extracts from the police radio log and in-depth interviews with a range of people who were there on the day — including travellers Phil Shakesby and Maureen Stone, journalists Nick Davies and Kim Sabido, the Earl of Cardigan and Deputy Chief Constable Ian Readhead — as well as Lord Gifford QC, who represented 24 of the travellers at the Beanfield trial in 1991. These accounts cut through the myths, misconceptions and propaganda that have built up around ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’ to present a detailed picture of what actually did happen.

Also included are many previously unseen photos, a description of the making of the documentary ‘Operation Solstice’, and chapters which set the events of the Beanfield in context. These look at the evolution of the free festival scene, new travellers, convoys and peace protestors, ‘raves’ and road protests, the campaigns for access to Stonehenge, and the wider implications of the events of the Beanfield, through increasingly draconian legislation, on civil liberties in the UK.

Reviews and feedback:

‘A great achievement of research, and one which adds further lustre to Andy’s status as a historian of modernity. I think that the end result is probably the definitive work on its subject, something very rarely achieved in practice.’
Ronald Hutton, author of The Triumph of the Moon

‘Very good — very clear and thorough, and it brought it all back.’
Nick Davies, journalist

‘Excellent — if a little distressing to read in places. It’s so important that these things are recorded for future reference, especially as our culture has no formal records, and you’ve done a brilliant job.’
Rob Torkington, Gypsy and Traveller Law Reform Coalition

‘I was given your book as a Solstice present a few weeks ago. I have read it 4 times through and dipped in many more times, compulsively rereading and often crying.
I nearly died on the way to Savernake Forest from Long Marston Airfield and therefore did not make it as far as the Beanfield. I came out of hospital to Greenlands Farm and the entire aftermath of what my ‘family’ and others had been through. I was forever changed by what I saw from Molesworth onwards that year.
Thank you for producing the book. My children and husband can gain so much more insight from it. I imagine I will continue to cry for what was possibly the happiest, certainly the most carefree time of my life, and yet was a period that irrevocably changed my view of England, humanity and life itself.’
Abigail Duignan

In terms of civil liberties we cannot walk on grass anymore. I can’t believe how much we have lost and how quietly it was lost too (I was briefly involved in peace campaigns in 1984).
Thank you for a book which should be required reading for all (esp. trainee barristers, journalists and smug git MPs from any party).
Cas Sanders

‘Re: your book. I was a copper in Hampshire, retiring in 1997, but in the late ‘80’s worked as a custody sergeant in a custody centre. In 1986, I made an appearance on a promotion board, chaired by our then Deputy Chief Constable John Hoddinot (he later became the Chief Constable and was knighted. He died in 2003). Earlier in the summer of ‘86, Hampshire had had its own skirmish with the assorted New Age Travellers and hippies, in the New Forest. A large number had set up camp on Forest land and the decision was taken that they were to be removed. The operation was named ‘Operation Daybreak’, and at first light on this particular day, a large force of bobbies in riot gear (an unusual sight in those days) burst onto the site and drove all the occupants out of their ‘benders’ into their vehicles and off the Forest. Lots of vehicles were impounded and there were many arrests. My promotion board was a few months after this. Hoddinot opened his questions to me: “Sgt Turpin, What was your opinion of ‘Operation Daybreak’?” (I learned subsequently that he had masterminded it). Feeling quite confident I replied, “Sir, I consider that it was a gross misuse of police manpower and resources.” He looked a little taken aback and asked me to elaborate. I continued, that I thought the sight of police officers, dressed as troops, crashing in upon these ‘fairly inoffensive’ individuals, was not an image that we should have been looking for for ourselves. Hoddinot then banged the table with his fist, leaned towards me and said, “Sgt Turpin, were you at the Battle of the Beanfield?” “No sir,” I replied, “I was not.” “Well, I was,” he said, “and if you had been, then you may have had a different opinion of these ‘inoffensive individuals.’ No further questions.” My bid for promotion was not successful.
Best of luck with the book.’
Richard Turpin

Ordering Information

To order a copy for £9.95 (RRP £12.95) plus £2.50 postage and packing (UK only), please order via PayPal (see below), or send a cheque (for £12.45 total) to:

A. Worthington
164A Tressillian Road
London SE4 1XY.

Cheques payable to: ‘A. Worthington’.

If you’d like a signed copy and/or a dedication, let me know.

You can also buy Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield for £28.90 — £9.95 (Beanfield) plus £12.95 (Stonehenge) plus £6 postage and packing. Offer applies to UK only.

To order a copy from the author from anywhere else in the world, please see the instructions here.


My books are available via PayPal, for customers in the UK.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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