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

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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

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





Winter Solstice sunrise is going to be livestreamed from Stonehenge for free.

17 12 2021

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). 

It will be livestreamed for free on YouTube and English Heritage’s social media channels at 7.25am.  

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. 

Check the English Heritage website

English Heritage is recommending that anyone planning to come to the checks the website for information including conditions of entry – particularly around Covid safety, public transport and parking, and keeps an eye on social media for updates.

How to watch online 

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

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





Stonehenge to be Celebrated with ‘Landmark’ Exhibition at British Museum #TheWorldOfStonehenge

8 12 2021

A forthcoming exhibition at the British Museum will celebrate the iconic megalithic monument Stonehenge in what the institution promises to be a “landmark show.” Set to open in February of next year, ‘The World of Stonehenge’ will surprisingly be the first time ever that the legendary site has served as the subject of a major event at the massive and prestigious museum. In keeping with that momentous occasion, curators putting the exhibition together have reportedly amassed a staggering array of artifacts, including approximately 250 pieces that have been loaned to the event from institutions throughout Europe and the UK.

Towering above the Wiltshire countryside, Stonehenge is perhaps the world’s most awe-inspiring ancient stone circle. Shrouded in layers of speculation and folklore, this iconic British monument has spurred myths and legends that persist today.

A key part of the collection, this 4,000-year-old Bronze Age timber structure has been nicknamed the Stonehenge of the Sea after it re-emerged on a Norfolk beach in 1998. It consists of a large upturned tree stump surrounded by 54 wooden posts. The oak posts, some up to 3m tall and form a 6.6m-diameter circle around the upturned oak, creating a giant tree-like spectacle. A narrow entranceway was built aligning to the rising midsummer sun and it is speculated the monument was used for ritual purposes.

The Nebra Sky Disc is 3,600 years old and will go on show at the London museum next year. Picture by: The British Museum

The aim is to set the stone monument – built 4,500 years ago, and one of the most recognisable sights in Europe – into the context of an era during which there was huge social and technological change.

 The World of Stonehenge is at the British Museum, London, from 17 February to 17 July 2022

Relevant Stonehenge News Links:
Story of Stonehenge to be told in major British Museum exhibition – The Guardian
British Museum exhibition explores Stonehenge of the sea – BBC News
Mysterious Seahenge monument coming to British Museum for Stonehenge show – Evening Standard
Guided Tours of Stonehenge with the megalithic experts – Stonehenge Guided Tours
A major exhibition on Stonehenge featuring 430 objects and artefacts is due to open at the British Museum. – The Conservative Post
The local Stonehenge touring experts based in Salisbury – The Stonehenge Travel Company
British Museum seeks loan of Ireland’s priceless artefacts for landmark exhibition – The Indepedent
World’s oldest map of the stars — is to go on display at the British Museum – Daily Mail

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http://www.Stonehenge.News





Stonehenge’s Builders May Have Feasted on Mince Pies and Sweet Treats

2 12 2021

Excavations near the iconic English monument revealed traces of fruits and nuts.

  • Excavation work has been led by English Heritage at Durrington Walls, Wiltshire
  • Durrington Walls was inhabited by the builders of Stonehenge in about 2,500 BC
  • Evidence suggests traces of hazelnuts, sloes, apples and other fruits at the site 

Previously it was thought they had consumed pork, beef and dairy.

But excavations of the Durrington Walls settlement, inhabited by the builders of the monument in about 2,500 BC, suggest they collected and cooked hazelnuts, sloes and crab apples too.

Researchers said evidence of charred plant remains suggest they might have followed recipes to preserve the food.

There was no direct evidence for pastry being used, but people knew how to grow cereal crops and could have made pastry from wheat, hazelnut or acorn flour, English Heritage said.

Neolithic “mince pies” could have been baked on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire using a flat stone or ceramic pot heated in the embers of a fire, much like a Welsh cake, it added.

Travelers visiting Stonehenge this month can sample a dish that may have been enjoyed by the monument’s builders some 4,500 years ago. As Alex Green reports for PA Media, volunteers with English Heritage, the organization that cares for the prehistoric site, are cooking up mince pies with ingredients used by these Neolithic workers, including hazelnuts and crab apples.

‘We know that midwinter and feasting were really important to the builders of Stonehenge,’ said Susan Greaney, the charity’s senior properties historian.

‘Thanks to the Stonehenge Riverside Project, we’re lucky to have evidence which tells us that they had access to nutritious fruit and nuts, and that they may even have made and cooked recipes.’  

Durrington Walls is two miles (3.2 km) north-east of Stonehenge, but it’s located within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

Earlier this month, a a series of deep pits which were discovered at Durrington Walls last year were confirmed as having been made by ancient Britons – after some experts dismissed them as mere natural features.

The 20 pits, which are more than 30 feet across and 16 feet deep, are arranged in a circle shape around Durrington Walls.  

Stonehenge Relevant Links
Rock cakes? Stonehenge builders may have enjoyed mince pies – The Guardian
Stonehenge builders fuelled themselves on sweet treats including ‘Neolithic mince pies’, excavation suggests – Daily Mail
NEOLITHIC MINCE PIE RECIPE: Download open fire mince pie recipe card. English Heritage
Stonehenge’s Builders May Have Feasted on Sweet Treats – The Smithsonian
Visit Stonehenge and sample a mince pie – Stonehenge Guided Tours
Stonehenge builders had a sweet tooth, artefacts suggest – BBC News
Stonehenge builders fuelled themselves on sweet treats, excavation suggests – The Evening Standard
Private Guided Stonehenge Tours with the local experts – The Stonehenge Travel Company

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Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News
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