Stonehenge Summer Solstice Open Access 2022

12 06 2022

Summer Solstice Sunrise Celebrations at StonehengeThe summer solstice is one of the few times access is granted inside the stones.

The summer solstice will be on 21 June 2022: Stonehenge is an ancient prehistoric world heritage site which has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Summer Solstice for thousands of years. Stonehenge is a world renowned historic Monument and part of a World Heritage Site. It is seen by many who attend as a sacred place. The Stonehenge summer solstice is a popular annual event that sees thousands of people descend on Wiltshire to celebrate the changing seasons. Summer solstice falls on the longest day of the year.

Please note that last normal admissions to Stonehenge is on Thursday 20th June at 13:00 and the site will close at 15:00 in preparation for Summer Solstice Managed Open Access. Stonehenge will re-open for normal admissions on the afternoon of Friday 21st June. Please check our social media channels for the exact time.

English Heritage is pleased to provide free Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for Summer Solstice. We ask that if you are planning to join us for this peaceful and special occasion that you read the Conditions of Entry and the information provided on the following page before deciding whether to come.

What is the summer solstice?

At the summer solstice, the sun travels the longest path through the sky, and therefore that day has the most daylight. The exact moment of the solstice is the time of year that the Earth is closest to the sun.

According to the astronomical definition of the seasons, the summer solstice also marks the beginning of summer, which lasts until the autumnal equinox (22 or 23 September in the Northern Hemisphere, and 20 or 21 March in the Southern Hemisphere). Under the meteorological definition, which splits the year into four seasons of three full months each based on the Gregorian calendar, winter starts on 1 December every year, and summer starts on 1 June.

When is summer solstice in 2022?

The summer solstice will be on 21 June 2022. It most commonly falls on this date, but can be anywhere between 20-22 June. The exact time of the solstice will be 10.13am in the UK.

Stonehenge is a significant World Heritage Site and to many it is sacred – please respect the stones and all those who are attending.

Admission to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge is free of charge.  We hope the weather will be kind and wish you a peaceful and celebratory solstice.

THURSDAY 20th JUNE 2022 
SOLSTICE CAR PARK OPENS19.00 hours
ACCESS TO STONEHENGE MONUMENT FIELD19.00 hours
SUNSET21.26 hours
FRIDAY 21st JUNE 2022 
SUNRISE04.52 hours
LAST ADMISSION TO SOLSTICE CAR PARK06.00 hours (or when full)
STONEHENGE MONUMENT FIELD CLOSESSOLSTICE CAR PARK TO BE VACATED08.00 hours12.00 hours (Noon)

How much are tickets to Stonehenge?

Entry is free of charge and you won’t need tickets to attend. Usually, tickets to the site cost £17.50. You will however have to pay for parking.

English Heritage says on its website: “We are pleased to provide free Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for Summer Solstice. We ask that if you are planning to join us for this peaceful and special occasion that you read the Conditions of Entry and the information provided before deciding whether to come.”

How to watch the summer solstice online

ENGLISH Heritage plan to make use of technology once more to enable enthusiasts to enjoy the summer solstice from the comfort of their own homes If you’re not able to get there in person, you can watch the summer solstice from Stonehenge online by using the Stonehenge Skyscape website. It has been set up by English Heritage to enable anyone from around the world the experience it. The event will also be livestreamed on the Stonehenge Facebook group and the English Heritage YouTube channel.

The charity is asking people to be mindful of the environmental issues if travelling to the stones and to car share or use public transport wherever possible. This would help to reduce CO2 emissions at the World Heritage Site.

English Heritage advise those who wish to celebrate the solstice at Stonehenge to bring only essential items with them and to check the website.

USEFUL SOLSTICE INFORMATION

For further information about Managed Open Access for Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, please call English Heritage Customer Services Solstice Information Hotline on 0370 333 1181.

Stonehenge Summer Solstice Links:
Experience the summer solstice and Stonehenge without leaving the house – SALISBURY JOURNAL
Druid Leader King Arthur Uther Pendragon, Head of the Loyal Arthurian Warband. STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge summer solstice 2022: Tickets won’t be needed to attend ancient site – WILTSHIRE LIVE
Summer Solstice 2022 – when is the longest day of the year? DAILY EXPRESS
When is the longest day of the year? Summer solstice 2022 date and how it’s celebrated at Stonehenge – INEWS
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access –STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Summer Solstice Tours from London / Bath – SOLSTICE TOURS U.K
Solstice and Equinox Experience Tours – SOLSTICE EVENTS UK
The Stonehenge Solstice Pilgrims – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access –STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. Stonehenge New Blog
Why Thousands Of Pagans Gather At Stonehenge For The Solstice Stonehenge News Blog

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News and 2022 Summer Solstice updates
http://www.Stonehenge.News





Ancient faeces suggests that Stonehenge builders ate badly cooked cow offal during epic winter feasts.

23 05 2022

An analysis of fossilised poo found at the site of a prehistoric village near the monument has uncovered evidence of eggs laid by parasitic worms.

This suggests the inhabitants feasted on the internal organs of cattle and fed leftovers to their dogs, scientists say.

The Neolithic settlement at Durrington Walls is just 1.7 miles from Stonehenge and dates back to 2500 BC, when much of the famous site was constructed.

A team of archaeologists led by the University of Cambridge analysed 19 pieces of faeces which had been preserved at the settlement for more than 4,500 years.

Five of them — one belonging to a human and four to dogs — contained the eggs of parasitic worms.

The researchers suggest this is the earliest evidence for intestinal parasites in the UK where the host species that produced the faeces has also been identified.

‘This is the first time intestinal parasites have been recovered from Neolithic Britain, and to find them in the environment of Stonehenge is really something,’ said lead author Dr Piers Mitchell, from Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology.

‘The type of parasites we find are compatible with previous evidence for winter feasting on animals during the building of Stonehenge.’

Scientists believe that the presence of these parasites indicates the person had eaten the raw or undercooked lungs or liver from an already infected animal.

RELEVANT STONEHENGE LINKS:
Prehistoric poo gives hints about the builders of Stonehenge – The Metro
Stonehenge builders ate undercooked offal, ancient faeces reveals – The Guardian
Stonehenge builders ate parasite-infested meat during ancient feasts, according to their poop – Live Science
Visit Stonehenge with the megalithic experts and hear all the latest theories – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Stonehenge breakthrough as Neolithic chefs’ ‘winter feast’ secrets unveiled for first time – The Express
Secrets surrounding 5,000-year-old Stonehenge revealed in ancient fossilised POO – The Mirror

The Stonehenge News Blog
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http://www.Stonehenge.News





Red deer, wild boar and elk would have roamed the Stonehenge area 4,000 years before the stones were constructed, according to new research.

3 05 2022

Scientists examined a nearby Mesolithic site and found the area was not a forest as previously thought.

Instead they believe it would have been populated by grazing animals and hunter-gatherers.

Scientists from the University of Southampton have examined Blick Mead, a Mesolithic archaeological site about a mile away from Stonehenge.

The work has helped build a picture of the habitat at the Wiltshire site from up to the Neolithic period (4,000 BC).

Samuel Hudson, from the University of Southampton, explained: “There has been intensive study of the Bronze Age and Neolithic history of the Stonehenge landscape, but less is known about earlier periods.

“Past theories suggest the area was thickly wooded and cleared in later periods for farming and monument building.

“However, our research points to pre-Neolithic, hunting-gatherer inhabitants, living in open woodland which supported aurochs and other grazing herbivores.”

The research team analysed pollen, fungal spores and traces of DNA preserved in ancient sediment, combined with optically stimulated luminescence and radiocarbon dating to produce an environmental history of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

“The study indicates that later Mesolithic populations at Blick Mead took advantage of more open conditions to repeatedly exploit groups of large ungulates (hoofed mammals), until a transition to farmers and monument-builders took place,” explained a university spokesman.

“In a sense, the land was pre-adapted for the later large-scale monument building, as it did not require clearance of woodland, due to the presence of these pre-existing open habitats.”

The findings of the team from Southampton, working with colleagues at the universities of Buckingham, Tromso and Salzburg, are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

RELEVANT STONEHENGE NEWS:
Stonehenge ‘built on land inhabited by deer and wild boar’ – BBC
New study reveals landscape 4,000 years before Stonehenge construction – HERITAGE DAILY
Stonehenge ‘built on land inhabited by deer and wild boar 4,000 years earlier’ – SALISBURY JOURNAL
Pre-Stonehenge Landscape Was Perfect for Hunter-Gatherers, Study Shows – ANCIENT ORIGINS
Visit Stonehenge with the megalithic experts and hear all the latest theories – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Stonehenge ‘was built on land inhabited by deer and wild boar 4,000 years earlier’ – THE INDEPENDENT

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News
http://www.Stonehenge.News





A new study suggests that Stonehenge once served as a solar calendar.

29 03 2022

It had long been thought that the famous site of Stonehenge served as an ancient calendar, given its alignment with the solstices. Now, research has identified how it may have worked.

  • Researchers argues that the design of Stonehenge was one big solar calendar 
  • The entire site was the physical representation of one month, lasting 30 days
  • One theory is Stonehenge served as an ancient calendar, although others exist

Research showed the stones were added about 2500BC and remained in the same formation, indicating they worked as a single unit such as a calendar.

New analysis suggests the design of Stonehenge may have represented a calendar, which enabled people to track a solar year of 365.25 days based on the alignment of the sun on the solstices. The large sarsens at the site appear to reflect a calendar with 12 months of 30 days – Source – Daily Mail

Professor Timothy Darvill said the Wiltshire stone circle’s layout served as a physical representation of the year.

He said the research indicated “the site was a calendar based on a tropical solar year of 365.25 days”.

Although the origins of the site remain a mystery, in a paper published in the journal Antiquity, Prof Darvill deduced that the stones are displayed to represent a solar year of 365.25 days and were once used to help people keep track of time.

His analysis also includes new finds about the site’s history, along with analysis of other ancient calendar systems.

The prehistorian, who works at Bournemouth University, said that “the clear solstitial alignment of Stonehenge has prompted people to suggest that the site included some kind of calendar since the antiquarian William Stukeley.

“Now, discoveries brought the issue into sharper focus and indicate the site was a calendar based on a tropical solar year of 365.25 days.”

The significance of the layout is highlighted during the Winter and Summer solstices, when the sun is framed by the same stones every time.

The solstitial alignment helps to calibrate the calendar and any errors would be easily detectable as the sun would be in the wrong place during the biannual event.

Professor Darvill said: “The proposed calendar works in a very straightforward way. Each of the 30 stones in the sarsen circle represents a day within a month, itself divided into three weeks each of 10 days.”

The solar calendar was developed in eastern Mediterranean countries after 3000BC and adopted in Egypt as the Civil Calendar around 2700BC. It was widely used around 2600BC, at the start of the Old Kingdom.

This information raises the possibility that the calendar that Stonehenge tracks may be influenced by other cultures. SOURCE: BBC NEWS

Putting Darvill’s Stonehenge Solar Calendar Theory To the Test! – ANCIENT ORIGINS
Stonehenge served as an ancient solar calendar, new study suggests – BOURNEMOUTH UNIVERSITY
Stonehenge may have served as an ancient solar CALENDAR, helping people track the 365 days of the year, study claims – DAILY MAIL
Mystery of Stonehenge ‘solved’ as ancient Egyptians used it for solar calendar – THE INDEPENDENT

Blog sponsored by Stonehenge Guided Tours

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First Day of Spring: Stonehenge crowd gathers for sunrise to celebrate the 2022 Vernal Equinox.

20 03 2022

The first day of spring has been marked by 1000 revellers who gathered at Stonehenge to watch the sunrise.

Open access to the stones was given from first light, 05:45 GMT, by English Heritage which manages the site. Please visit our Twitter and Facebook page for more pics and videos.

Blog sponsored by Stonehenge Guided Tours

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Has the mystery of Stonehenge finally been solved? A new study suggests that Stonehenge once served as a solar calendar.

4 03 2022
  • Researchers argues that the design of Stonehenge was one big solar calendar 
  • The entire site was the physical representation of one month, lasting 30 days
  • One theory is Stonehenge served as an ancient calendar, although others exist

Research showed the stones were added about 2500BC and remained in the same formation, indicating they worked as a single unit such as a calendar.

It had long been thought that the famous site of Stonehenge served as an ancient calendar, given its alignment with the solstices. Now, research has identified how it may have worked

Professor Timothy Darvill said the Wiltshire stone circle’s layout served as a physical representation of the year.

He said the research indicated “the site was a calendar based on a tropical solar year of 365.25 days”.

Although the origins of the site remain a mystery, in a paper published in the journal Antiquity, Prof Darvill deduced that the stones are displayed to represent a solar year of 365.25 days and were once used to help people keep track of time.

His analysis also includes new finds about the site’s history, along with analysis of other ancient calendar systems.

The prehistorian, who works at Bournemouth University, said that “the clear solstitial alignment of Stonehenge has prompted people to suggest that the site included some kind of calendar since the antiquarian William Stukeley.

“Now, discoveries brought the issue into sharper focus and indicate the site was a calendar based on a tropical solar year of 365.25 days.”

The significance of the layout is highlighted during the Winter and Summer solstices, when the sun is framed by the same stones every time.

The solstitial alignment helps to calibrate the calendar and any errors would be easily detectable as the sun would be in the wrong place during the biannual event.

Professor Darvill said: “The proposed calendar works in a very straightforward way. Each of the 30 stones in the sarsen circle represents a day within a month, itself divided into three weeks each of 10 days.”

The solar calendar was developed in eastern Mediterranean countries after 3000BC and adopted in Egypt as the Civil Calendar around 2700BC. It was widely used around 2600BC, at the start of the Old Kingdom.

This information raises the possibility that the calendar that Stonehenge tracks may be influenced by other cultures. SOURCE

Relevant Stonehenge News Links:
Stonehenge was a solar calendar, according to research – BBC
Stonehenge may have been a giant calendar and now we know how it works – New Scientist
Stonehenge mystery solved as a solar calendar – with links to ancient Egypt – Evening Standard
Stonehenge mystery unravelled as scientists detail key use ‘Very straightforward’ – The Express
Stonehenge may have served as an ancient solar CALENDAR, helping people track the 365 days of the year, study claims – Daily Mail
Visit Stonehenge with the megalithic experts and hear all the latest theories – Stonehenge Guided Tours
Visit Stonehenge on the Summer Solstice – Solstice Tours UK

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Stonehenge Spring (Vernal) Equinox Managed Open Access: 20th March 2022

12 02 2022

English Heritage are expected to give a short period of managed open access on the 20th March. Sunrise is at 6:11am, and access will commence as soon as it is safe, this is likely to be from approximately 5:45am and will end at 8:30am.

The spring equinox is one of the rare occasions that English Heritage opens up the stones for public access. Equinox open accesses attract fewer people than the Solstices – in the several hundreds rather than tens of thousands – and there are modern Druid ceremonies which are held in the circle around dawn.

Spring equinox 2022

This is the first of the four ‘sky points’ in our Wheel of the Year and it is when the sun does a perfect balancing act in the heavens. This is the point of the year when once again day and night are equal – 12 hours. The equinox, (the Latin word for Equinox means time of equal days and nights) is only the very moment the sun crosses the equator. The exact time of the 2022 Vernal Equinox is at 4.43pm

WHY CAN PAGANS AND DRUIDS GET SO CLOSE TO THE STONES FOR THE EQUINOX?

The famous Stonehenge circle is normally roped off to the public, but special access is granted four times a year. This is only on the mornings of the summer solstice, winter solstice, spring equinox and autumn equinox. English Heritage has ‘managed open access’, meaning the public can stand among the stones on these days. Anyone can turn up on the day to get close to the stones, but people are asked not to touch or climb on them. Organisers also have a ban on bringing glass bottles or pets onto the site and on playing amplified music. Stonehenge is expected to open at 5.45am when it was deemed light enough to safely allow people into the field and visitors must leave by 8.30am. English Heritage open to the paying public as normal at 9.30am.

Public access to Stonehenge currently takes place on four of the so-called ‘quarter festivals’. What exactly are the quarter festivals? And why are these occasions so celebrated by the Druids? The Quarter Festivals and the Druids

Why not join a guided tour from London or Bath and save the hassle of public transport and parking. Enjoy sunrise on the Equinox and hear all the latest theories of Stonehenge with an expert tour guide

Related Equinox Links:
How the Spring Equinox marks the changing seasons – The Telegraph
What is the vernal equinox? Why does it mark the first day of spring? – Express
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present – Stonehenge News Blog
Stonehenge Spring Equinox Tours and Transport – Stonehenge Guided Tours
Solstice at Stonehenge – English Heritage
The Stonehenge Pilgrims – Stonehenge News Blog
What Exactly Is the Spring Equinox? – Country Living
Stonehenge Equinox / Solstice Guided Tours – Solstice Events UK
Visiting Stonehenge this year for the Spring Equinox Celebrations? RESPECT THE STONES

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News and Equinox updates.
http://www.Stonehenge.News





What are the full moon dates and names in 2022?

15 01 2022

Stargazers are set to witness some impressive celestial sights in 2022. As well as the full moons that come round every month, there will also be a series of supermoons to look out for.

Full Moon over Stonehenge. Photo credits to Stonehenge Dronescapes

THE MOON moves through many phases and can have a profound effect on our energy and mindset as it transitions through the night sky. Here’s all of the full moon dates for 2022.

January 17th  2022:  Full Wolf Moon
February 15th 2022: Full Snow Moon
March 18th 2022: Full Worm Moon
April 16th 2022: Full Pink Moon
May 16th 2022: Full Flower Moon
June 14th 2022: Full Strawberry Moon
July 13th 2022: Full Black Moon
August 12th 2022: Full Sturgeon Moon
September 10th 2022: Full Harvest Moon
October 9th 2022: Full Hunters Moon
November 8th 2022: Full Frost Moon
December 8th 2022: Full Cold Moon

There are heaps of celestial events to look forward to in 2022. From meteor showers to solstices, equinoxes and glowing supermoons, Country Living have compiled your ultimate calendar guide to the very best astronomical events.

Stonehenge is situated on the edge of Salisbury Plain, the Landscape occupies a large, sparsely populated area ideal for stargazing.  These dark skies provide the perfect environment to see the stars in all their detail, so why not organise a night-time trip to see what you can discover? The National Trust mention Stonehenge as one of their top stargazing spots in the south west of England and it’s easy to see why. The timeless landscape surrounding Stonehenge is sparsely populated owing to the fact of its close proximity to Salisbury Plain and also due to Stonehenge being part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Keep an eye out for stargazing events organised by the National Trust and English Heritage here. 

Full Moon and Stonehenge Related links:
Stonehenge Dronescapes 2022 A3 Calendar – Purchase on EBAY
When is the next full Moon? Royal Museum Greenwich
Ancient Skies: Stonehenge and the Moon – Stonehenge News Blog
A simple-to-use tool for exploring and looking at the different Phases of the Moon. Moon Phases 2022.
Full list of 2022 astronomical events to look for – Daily Express
When is the next full moon? Your lunar astronomy guide – Science Focus
Visit Stonehenge and learn more about the astronomy of Stonehenge – Stonehenge Guided Tours8 must-see stargazing events to watch in 2022 – National Geographic
Month-by-month calendar guide to the best celestial events in 2022 – Country Living
Stonehenge and Ancient Astronomy. Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
Stonehenge Full Moon Guided Walking Tours.  Explore the landscape with a local historian and astronomer.
Stonehenge Dronescapes. Amazing photos of Stonehenge. Visit the Facebookpage
Guided Tours of Stonehenge from Bath and Salisbury – Stonehenge and Salisbury Guided Tours

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Thousands gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the annual winter solstice.

24 12 2021

Crowds came together for the biggest gathering at Stonehenge since the pandemic began. Thousands of people gathered at Stonehenge on Wednesday morning to celebrate the annual winter solstice. The event, which marks the first sunrise after the longest night of the year, saw 2,500 people visit the World Heritage site in Salisbury – the largest gathering at the 5,000-year-old location since the start of the pandemic. The festivities were also watched by over 55,000 people worldwide, with Druids and Pagans amongst those who marked the occasion.

Druids and pagans were joined by hundreds of others to mark the end of the longest night.

English Heritage allowed access to the site but also live streamed the sunrise for those who wanted to watch at home.

Historians believe the turning of the year was celebrated by the people who erected the stones.

It was the first time since lockdown began in March 2020 that open access was allowed at the World Heritage Site on Salisbury Plain, with about 1,000 people attending.

The curator of Stonehenge, Heather Sebire, told BBC Radio Wiltshire: “The whole monument is orientated to the midwinter sunset and the midsummer sunrise. Today is marking the turning of the year.

As the drumming echoed around the site, everyone, tourists, locals and the religious, turned their faces to the east in unison to greet the sunrise.

People marked the moment in different ways – some quiet, some jubilant – but you could sense a real joy in the air.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice 2021 Links:
Thousands gather at Stonehenge for winter solstice celebration = The Independent
Winter solstice Sunrise at Stonehenge 2021 in photos – Salisbury Journal
Winter Solstice at Stonehenge: Crowds gather for special sunrise at Wiltshire monument – ITV
Stonehenge winter solstice crowd the biggest of pandemic – BBC
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tours, book now for 2022 – Stonehenge Guided Tours
Dawn again! Stonehenge revellers celebrate the first sunrise after Winter Solstice… – Daily Mail
Experiencing solstice at Stonehenge for the first time – Wiltshire Times

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News and Winter Solstice updates.






The King of Stonehenge: A Winter Solstice Story.

20 12 2021

Based on the Bush Barrow Man – displayed in Devizes museum.

They stood in a circle, mirroring the wider circle of the great plain spread out around them beneath the vast blue dome of the sky – a plain of rolling scrubland, a threadbare forest after centuries of occupation and activity now covered in a thin cloak of white: more a hard frost than fresh snow, although old drifts had frozen over where the occasional flurry had snagged on bushes and mounds. A solemn circle of cloaked figures standing out against the white, forms and features gilded by the fires of torches and the setting sun – at its lowest ebb after its slow, steady journey from the summer solstice. Now, on the eve of the longest night of the year, it was like a tallow candle, wick guttering low in its melting pool as it sank over the horizon.

          The gathered stood vigil around an open grave pit. Within, the flickering light illumined a middle-aged male figure wrapped in a deep blue cloak against which a gold lozenge breastplate and belt buckle gleamed, catching the dying rays that shot out across the darkening plain. A once powerful profile caught this final glory. Encephalic brow over deep set eyes now shut beneath still black brows. Cheek bones and chin accentuated by grey-streaked beard. A strong mouth used to issuing commands now silent. Look closer and fine wrinkles about his eyes could be discerned – the weathering of a long, active, and careworn life.

          Around the grave stood two distinct rings of figures – shorter, raven-maned, stouter men and women wore robes dyed a woad-blue; the taller, finer-boned, flaxen-haired ones wore cloaks of pale green-grey. Between them they rhymed with the blue stones and sarsens of the Great Circle, distinctly visible just down the slope from the ridge of barrows – the mighty temple where tomorrow they would greet the rebirth of the sun.

          The blue-cloaks stood restless and uncomfortable amid the pomp and ceremony of the burial. They were more used to using their hands and minds on constructing and maintaining the Great Stones and surrounding sites. Physically distinct from the grey-cloaks, it was rumoured they had first come to the plain with the blue stones – but this had been so far back even the storytellers’ failed to recall the details in more than fanciful terms. Around the fires they told of how a great magician and a band of fifteen thousand warriors had travelled to Hibernia to bring back the stones said to be the work of giants; of how, when the Hibernians had refused them, a great battle ensued and blood had darkened the soft green hills, and the sorcerer had made the stones dance across the land into their final settling place. Whatever the truth the blue-stones – shorter and roughly hewn from a darker, more porous rock – had preceded the taller grey ones, which had been dressed and brought with no less an astounding act of skill and effort from the downs a day’s walk north. The Avenue was said to mark the direction the blue-stones had been brought from the river, the direction the midsummer sun rose, entering the Great Stones via the pair of uprights standing apart from the main circle.

          As the dying light of the sun lingered on the horizon – a bloody eye slowly shutting – the grey-cloaks stepped forward to place gifts in the grave.

          A tall, handsome woman carried before her a ceremonial mace, handle inlaid with a zig-zag pattern. As the torches gutted in the chill dusk breeze, her voice carried across the gathered. ‘Our cherished leader brought together the tribes – forging peace, alliances, friendships, and heart-unions. May this mace remind the ancestors of this great deed!’ The circle made noises of respect and assent, and she carefully placed it on the chest of the man, laying his right hand gently over it. Then, after a private moment when she murmured something and kissed his brow, she stood stiffly up, and returned to the ring.

          Then a man with long silver hair stepped forward and offered a milky spherical stone. ‘Our cherished friend knew the secrets of the sun, moon, and stars, better than anyone – even than myself. His vision helped us to achieve this mighty dream,’ he gestured to the Great Stones, ‘one that has taken many lifetimes of effort. But now it is accomplished. The long line that has overseen the sky temple’s construction and completion may rest in peace, rightly proud of their legacy. And so, the seer-stone can rest now with its bearer.’ He stooped and placed the orb in the man’s left hand, curling frost-stiffened fingers about it. Then, quietly: ‘May it guide you on your journey in the beyond, old friend.’

          The silver-haired man stood up and stepped back, face curtained by his hair, his expression taut, eyes glinting in the torchlight.

          Then a young man stepped forward in his virile prime. The resemblance to the man in the grave was unmistakable – though his smooth features and mien were unwearied by the burdens of chieftainhood. He carried before him a dagger with a handle adorned with golden pins.

          ‘My father was father to many tribes, and many knew him as a strong leader, one who fiercely defended his people, and this land. And yet there was another side to him, which I was lucky to glimpse at times. Yes, he was tougher on me than most, pushing me to become as great, nay, even greater than he. But behind that was an undying love. I realise that now. He could not be like other fathers, and yet he still taught me many things. The tales he shared! When the day’s work was done, and he returned to our hut – to sit by the fire with a warming beaker, a different man would emerge. I remember that man, while I honour the leader. Dear father, may this dagger guard you in your journey beyond the sky.’

          The young man placed the dagger by his feet, spent a moment in contemplation kneeling by his father’s grave, then finally stood up, and returned to the circle.

          And then the blue-cloaks brought their gifts – jugs of beer, a loaf, a sack of grain, a braided talisman – simple, homespun gifts but heartfelt.

          The grave goods were carefully placed around the recumbent form until not a gap was left.

          And then the silver-haired man stepped forward and raised a final toast with a horn – pouring some of its contents onto the disturbed earth at the edge of the grave, before taking a slow, thoughtful sip. With a bow, he passed it with both hands to the handsome woman, who did the same.

Then, to the son, whose hand shook, though none chose to notice it.

One-by-one, each took a turn to the raise the horn.

          Returning full circle to him, the silver-haired man signalled it was time to raise the mound.

          Starting with the grey-cloaked woman, each person gathered cast an oxen-shoulder blade’s worth of mead-splashed chalky soil on the man before returning the back of the line. A chant began, slow and rhythmic, as slowly the mound was raised in the dying light, a mound glowing white in the gloaming.

          And then finally it was done.

          Before them, the white mound rose in the full dark of the deepest night, its soft glow echoing the glint of stars far, far above – the line of barrows a constellation in the chalk pointing the spirit-fire of their newest ancestor back home.  

          Frozen to the bone, the gathered filed back to the huts to the honour-feast. All night long they would tell tales of his deeds, share their memories of the man, the husband, the father, the legend.

          And so, they would pass the longest night of the year – holding vigil to ensure the spirit’s safe passage to the land behind life where, so the tale-weavers speak, the night sky is white and the stars are black.

          Until finally the glow in the east would be seen, and they would gather in the Great Stones to greet the dawn.

          And at the moment the sun breached the barrowed skyline on the shortest day of the year, they would hail its rebirth: the true king of Stonehenge.

Guest Blogger: Dr Kevan Manwaring is an author, lecturer, and specialist tour-guide. His books include The Long Woman (a novel which features Stonehenge and Avebury), Lost Islands, Turning the Wheel: seasonal Britain on two wheels, Desiring Dragons, Oxfordshire Folk Tales, Northamptonshire Folk Tales, and Herepath: a Wiltshire songline. He is a keen walker and loves exploring the ancient landscape of the Marlborough Downs (where he lives) and beyond.  www.kevanmanwaring.co.uk

WINTER Solstice celebrations will be marked at Stonehenge next week. Sunrise will be live streamed from Stonehenge for free.

English Heritage is inviting people to watch from home as the Winter Solstice sunrise is going to be livestreamed from Stonehenge on the morning of Wednesday (December 22). 

Those wanting to mark the solstice at the site in person, which will be subject to any changes in government gudiance, legislation or public health advice, will need to take a lateral flow test before setting off and only travel if it is negative and they feel well. Transport is available from Salisbury or guided tours from London and Bath

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Links:
How to watch the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge 2021 – Salisbury Journal
Winter Solstice 2021 – English Heritage
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Managed Open Access Arrangements 2021 – Stonehenge News Blog
The Rebirth of the Sun: the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Winter solstice: Why do pagans celebrate the shortest day of the year? THE TELEGRAPH
The Sun Stones: The Story of the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tours from London – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
What has Stonehenge got to do with the winter solstice? – METRO NEWS
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tours from Bath – SOLSTICE TOURS U.K
Celebrate Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – HOLIDAY EXTRAS
Solstice and Equinox Experience Tours – SOLSTICE EVENTS UK
The Stonehenge Sostice Pilgrims – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge, the Winter Solstice, and the Druids – INTERESTRING ENGINEERING
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access –STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG

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