Druids hoping to watch the autumn equinox at Stonehenge have rejected an invitation by English Heritage to allow a "small" crowd to watch the sunrise, after dismissing the offer as "elitist".
Around 800 people usually gather at the Wiltshire monument in September to mark the occasion, which heralds the start of shorter days and longer evenings, but public health concerns resulted in the cancellation of this year's event.
Despite shutting to the public however, English Heritage said it was able to host more than six people because Stonehenge is a visitor attraction and a "place of worship".
It meant officials were able to offer access to a "small number" of pagans and druids by inviting 30 members of the community to witness the equinox.
However, senior druid ‘King’ Arthur Pendragon from the Round Table Group advised his fellow pagans not to accept the deal.
The 66-year-old environmental campaigner told the Telegraph: “I was not going to make the decision of which 30 druids could go and the thousands that could not.”
“I am going to go anyway, if they want to arrest me then they are free to do so."
Mr Pendragon said he would "not be bought off in this elitist manner" while the "pilgrims are denied access".
Representatives from the Round Table Group also told English Heritage that denying entry to some parties while including others was not "fair".
Officials at Stonehenge had previously cancelled gatherings marking the spring equinox in March. The decision to call off the autumn event was made on the advice of Wiltshire Council and police.
Nichola Tasker, Stonehenge Director, said: “Obviously, we are disappointed not to be able to host the usual Autumn Equinox gathering at Stonehenge but at this difficult time, we just cannot have hundreds of people crowded together within the stone circle.
"We hope that everyone who wishes to is able to enjoy the equinox in a safe and peaceful way.”
The autumn equinox marks one of the rare occasions that English Heritage opens up the prehistoric stones for public access.
This year it takes place next Tuesday and marks the point when the sun is positioned exactly above the equator and the day is the same length as the night.