Stock photo of man with money buried in swimming trunks
"This year I’ve come up with a cunning plan...” Stock photo: Steffi Lopez

How £10,000 Worth of Drugs Got Buried Under Glastonbury Festival

And how the dealers tried to get it back, as told by “Rave New World” author Kirk Field.

Let me explain. I initially met Glastonbury co-creator Michael Eavis in late 1989, when I sat in his farmhouse kitchen enjoying his wife Jean’s delicious homemade vegetable broth. I was interviewing him for Encyclopaedia Psychedelica magazine’s Evolution (“The psychic surfer’s New Age bible for the 90s”) for a dual feature on the bearded Somerset farmer and the wide boy of acid house, Tony Colston-Hayter. Two characters who shared a love of bringing people together but who could not have been more different.


Having failed my driving test some years earlier, I needed a lift to Michael’s farm at Pilton, as Glastonbury station was closed due to the Beeching cuts and the nearest station, Castle Cary, was 16 miles away by road.

I put the word out and within hours I was called by Jethro, a character who I suspected supplied half of north London with mood modification. The deal was simple: I would cover his fuel and square it with Michael that they could wander over the festival site and do a spot of metal detecting while I was conducting the interviews.

It was one of those grey days in December which never really gets light. The sky couldn’t even be arsed to rain properly. The landscape looked drained of colour. Salisbury Plain was shrouded in mist, ghost smoke from 3,000 years of campfires. The stones huddled together on the bleak landscape, lop-sided yet magnificent. Garish dayglo orange barriers blocked the road leading to the visitor centre and car park.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Winter Solstice is approaching. They don’t want to encourage any gatherings,” Jethro deduced.

“Fackers,” added Slug, his Aussie sidekick who had joined us on the excursion.

Slug had spent the whole journey rolling joint after joint, with Jethro sharing the spoils of his friend’s endeavours.

As the effects of the devils lettuce resulted in uproarious laughter and increasingly confusing non sequiturs from the front seats, I sat in the back engulfed by the fog, the broken rear window arm frustratingly rendering fresh air beyond my grasp.


The duo began to regale me with the myths and legends they’d heard about the Pyramid Stage. How it was built to the same dimensions as the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, its location determined by the Glastonbury Abbey and Stonehenge ley line and possessed Earth energy in abundance. Jethro explained to his avidly listening Aussie mate some geo-mysticism:

“A pyramid is a very powerful shape, man. The apex projects energy upwards, while energy from the stars and sun are drawn down.”

Slug nodded in agreement, took another drag and surmised as only an Aussie stoner could: “Too right: a big black, fuck-off prism transmitting pure vibrations into the night.”

Jethro told how he’d heard that lighting jocks suspended in the rigging beneath its point would leave old razor blades overnight and claim to return the next morning to find them miraculously sharpened. Another tale told of how water was observed dripping UPWARDS from a pool of condensed water that had collected in a parabolic dish which was a part of a band’s stage set in the 80s, and of a half-eaten ham sandwich which had been left forgotten in the lighting truss for the duration of the festival and didn’t go stale.

We arrived at Worthy Farm and I explained to Michael that my mates wanted to spend some time metal detecting around the Pyramid Stage. Michael agreed but pointed out that each year, after the site was cleared, a local bloke got “first dibs” and they’d be lucky to find anything at all other than an occasional Red Stripe ring pull which had been trampled into the mud.


From my seat at the large kitchen table, through the window I observed my hippy companions walking away from the farmhouse, Jethro carrying a bulky rucksack and metal detector and Slug with what looked like a spade slung over his shoulder. Jean delivered a bowl of steaming broth and crusty bread onto the table in front of me and we started to talk.

Kirk Field (in black cap) at Glastonbury with friends in the 90s

Author Kirk Field (in black cap) at Glastonbury in the 90s with some friends. Photo courtesy of Kirk Field

Michael explained his involvement in the festival was probably a result of his non-conformist upbringing by Quakers and preachers, who would constantly question the established way of doing things and society’s values. Despite his evident affection and sympathy for the 60s counterculture, he was clearly concerned at the latest expression of rebellion, namely acid house.

“Those pirates have ruined it for responsible festival promoters. I refuse to be tarred with the same brush as some of the dodgy cowboys out there who appear to be only in it for a fast buck.”

He also spoke about the history and future development of the festival, which he felt would be about more than merely music and increasingly “visually immersive”. I asked him if the public’s growing awareness of environmental issues and alternative lifestyles could perhaps cause the festival to become a victim of its own success.

“I hope not. From 500 festival-goers in 1970, we now have over 60,000 and I honestly don’t know how many more we can accommodate safely and comfortably.”


I tried to reassure him that the rave scene was here to stay, and my belief that the festival needed to embrace the movement and music if it was to continue to reflect what was going on beyond his lush green pastures. I urged him to remember his roots and consider that the demonisation of the rave scene had parallels with the way the establishment saw the hippie movement in the late 60s as a threat.

He saw the irony. “What they said about freedom being eroded and the environment is now everyday language and mainstream political cause.”

I told him that there was a lot of love in the lasers and that the raves had a positive aspect, bringing together black, white, gay and straight people, who were unified into one nation under a groove. It sounded like this was the first time he’d heard anyone speak up for the phenomenon and I got the impression he had a downer on the scene through the negative media coverage, coupled with the impact the scene would have on his festival in terms of increased penalties. The furore caused by the orbital raves the previous summer had resulted in tighter licence conditions for music events, prompting him to change its name to Glastonbury Festival for the Contemporary Performing Arts.

Michael figured that describing it as a “theatre festival” to the local council would help him obtain the licence. (My advice to “factor in any expected legal costs like the rave promoters did and put a fiver on each ticket” was perhaps heeded, except a tenner was put on each ticket!)


After speaking to him about the chill-out movement (which I described as acid house’s quieter little sister), he agreed to look favourably on an arena for the 1990 edition – Glastonbury’s 20th anniversary, which sounded promising and would serve as a bridgehead for the dance scene to infiltrate and ultimately dominate what I’ve always thought is the greatest music festival in the world.

After we finished, Michael said he needed to take some feed to the cows at the Pyramid Stage, which doubled as a cowshed throughout the winter months and offered me a lift in his tractor. As we drew near, I could make out two figures on the stage. I jumped out of the tractor, waded through the cow pats, and climbed up the steps at the back to join them. The three of us stood on the most famous festival stage on the planet in the midwinter gloom. My nostrils were filled with the smell of cow shit. In six months’ time, there would be 70,000 pairs of eyes on us, but our audience on that grey Wednesday afternoon consisted of a herd of disinterested cows, a farmer and a lone buzzard which hovered above.

“So tell me about the buried treasure on my land. Am I a rich man?”

Slug went white and looked sideways at Jethro, who uneasily shifted his weight to his other leg, “Erm, nothing, I’m afraid. Think me detector needs a service, but thanks for letting us have a go.” Slug coughed and smiled nervously.


We bade our farewells after Michael gave us a ride back to the farm. On the way back, after miles and miles of trying, and the offer of a full tank of fuel and some munchies at Heston Services, the duo eventually divulged their secret. There was buried treasure involved. However, it wasn’t discovered by the dopey duo… but hidden by them.

Jethro explained how each year, his stash would part company from his vehicle at the same police roadblock on the A303… by the same officer.

“Every fucking year he does me, and so this year I’ve come up with a cunning plan.”

That plan involved taking his drugs down prior to the festival, thus avoiding police, their dogs and security. Using my interview and metal detecting as an excuse, they found the perfect opportunity to bury copious amounts of weed, pills and tabs of acid on the festival site. Between them, they’d spunked all their savings and more on building up a hoard with a street value of around £10,000 for distribution to the expected influx of ravers.

After climbing over a five-bar gate, they found they were looking down on the famous black Pyramid, which was being routinely ignored by a herd of grazing Friesian cows. They walked down to it and scaled the side stairway onto the mainstage. As they looked out, Jethro’s eyes were drawn to a magnificent oak tree a few fields away. He recalled that the field was not a popular one for camping, as it sloped down, and any rain would turn the lower part into a quagmire of Glasto mud. So as long as he avoided the lower field, it was the perfect hiding place.


Arriving at the tree, Jethro removed his compass and set it to north. He then carefully walked 20 paces and stopped. Looking at his compass, he turned 90 degrees and walked another steady 20 paces west. He then turned back north and counted out a final 20 precise steps, stopped, made a quick check that no one was watching, and began digging.

After filling his hole and taking care to replace the grass sods by stamping them down firmly, the two returned to the Pyramid Stage, where they pretended to metal detect and wait for me.

A few weeks later I found myself helping to put together a who’s who of the emerging chill-out scene: the Grid, KLF, the Orb, Mixmaster Morris, Neutron 9000 and the Shamen – who had all agreed to play for petrol money and a few free tickets at what was set to be the Dance Village in the expanded Green Fields – a space devoted to the expression of movement through a variety of media. DJ workshops, mixing demonstrations, “bring-a-bongo” percussive jam sessions and live performances by the nascent scene’s main players, which was being coordinated by a fellow “evolutionary”, Neil Oram.

Then, a few weeks beforehand, the plug was pulled after someone got cold feet after spotting the demonic word “house”.

“Ambient house” was a name used by the Orb and KLF to describe their sound, although there was no similarity to house music in terms of rhythm, arrangement and tempo. The use of samples and the cut-and-paste approach meant the phrase immediately identified it to the generation (indeed the sleeve for the Orb’s debut single was adorned with the phrase “Ambient House for the E Generation”).


But some in the Glastonbury hierarchy were spooked when, in March 1990, Graham Bright’s “Acid House Bill” became law, and the Dance Village was pulled within weeks of the festival.

There may have been no official chill-out tent, but this was the first post-Summer of Rave edition of the festival and so it was that dance music did feature – in the form of Adamski, Happy Mondays and De La Soul on the Pyramid Stage, with Paul Oakenfold becoming the first DJ to play the NME Stage.

The opening act on the Pyramid Stage on Friday was Adamski – dressed in a Clockwork Orange chic of orange hair, black bowler hat and a flame-red kaftan with jogging trousers. He was rapturously received. It felt like a moment.

Dance music on the Pyramid Stage (only six songs, mind). Welcome to the future!

It was while walking back to the Green Fields, leaving the throbbing sound systems behind, that I spotted two familiar faces sat around some bloke playing a didgeridoo. They each wore a blanket and smelled, I’m sorry to say, like they’d shat themselves.

“Fellas! Everything okay?”

They briefly looked up, acknowledged me with a tiny wave and the slightest of smiles, before continuing to stare, statesmanlike, into the distance. I couldn’t work out whether it was in awe or sheer disbelief. I sat down next to them, and over the course of the next twenty minutes heard, first-hand, what had happened.


Yesterday, they set off in Jethro’s spluttering van, which had undergone a rare vacuuming and valet to remove any traces of forgotten spliffs or incriminating little plastic bags. As he approached Somerset, the traffic started slowing. Up ahead blue flashing lights indicated that Avon and Somerset Police were pulling some vehicles into the lay-by. Sure enough, upon one look at the LOVE + PEACE sun strip, they gestured for him to pull over.

The officer in charge even recognised him. “A familiar face! Off to the festival again, are we, sir?”

The boys in blue proceeded to turn the van over, even removing the door panels and back seats, but found nothing. As Jethro looked on, he took great delight in telling them he’d turned over a new leaf and had found honest employment at the festival as a toilet attendant and litter picker.

The coppers, clearly disappointed to have wasted 20 minutes and not upped their statistics, scratched their heads but wished him well. He pulled out of the lay-by and headed towards the festival, grinning from ear to ear. They’d made it!

After setting his tent up, he waited for darkness to fall, and by 2AM, when the central site area lights were extinguished and things got quiet, Jethro set off, alone, to unearth his buried treasure. There was but a sliver of a new moon, but despite the darkness he soon located the oak tree. As he had calculated a few months earlier, there were only a few tents scattered at the top of the meadow, but other than that, the field appeared uninhabited as he had imagined it would be.

Looking at his compass, he set it to north and carefully measured twenty paces. He then turned and walked twenty paces west. Turning back north, he was aware he was racing, which may lead to shorter or longer steps, so very deliberately, looking at his compass all the time, he counted the final steps to his loot. Thirteen, 14, 15, 16 . . . but as he got to 17, he could go no further. Inches in front of his nose was a plywood wall, seven feet high and stretching 50 feet in length. He looked up and saw the sign: LONG DROP TOILET.

His precious treasure had been buried where a shit pit had been dug.

Now, anyone else would’ve given up at this stage, but not Jethro. After returning to his tent, he tossed and turned until dawn’s first light a few hours later. At which time he made enquiries and ascertained that each day, the endless stream of human excrement was sucked into trucks and decanted into a huge cesspit elsewhere on the site, known as “The Lagoon”. From where it was filtered, prior to being taken to the sewage works… which would explain why two figures were wading, knee-deep in shit, at 7AM on Friday morning, sifting through the poo, in a vain search for their tightly wrapped black plastic stash of drugs.

It was not in vain. I’m pleased to report that they didn’t emerge empty-handed. Slug stumbled upon something solid, reached down and recovered the item, holding it aloft in disbelief, as the brown goo dripped to reveal… a false prosthetic leg.

© Kirk Field 2023. Extracted from “Rave New World” by Kirk Field, published by Nine Eight