CORRECTED: British druid King Arthur loses Stonehenge legal battle

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A British druid named King Arthur on Tuesday failed in his legal bid to have ancient human remains returned to a burial site at the historic English monument of Stonehenge.

The self-styled druid, who appeared in white robes as he represented himself at the High Court in London, wanted judges to review a government decision to allow experts to keep the remains for testing.

The remains of more than 40 bodies, thought to be at least 5,000 years old, were removed in 2008 from a burial site at Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument in southwest England famed for its semi-circle of large standing stones.

Ministers gave researchers from Sheffield University, in northern England, permission to keep the bones until 2015.

However, King Arthur, a 57-year-old former soldier, said he feared they would be placed in a museum and not returned.

The bearded druid, who changed his name through legal channels, told the court the remains were members of the "royal line" or "priest caste" and druids considered them the guardians of Stonehenge.

"They have a right to go back to their final resting place, Stonehenge," he told the court.

"But I believe they will be kept in perpetuity in case scientific techniques move on and they can test them again."

But judge Wyn Williams refused to give him permission to launch a review of the government's decision, saying that there was insufficient evidence to show that the justice ministry might have acted unreasonably.

The justice ministry denied the remains would be removed to a museum or that it had failed to take account of King Arthur's views.

Druids were an ancient priestly class about which little is known as they left no written accounts.

© 2011 AFP

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