Once upon a time (until 1977, actually) it was possible to turn up and wander around the world-famous prehistoric monument of Stonehenge, touching ancient stones and experiencing wonderment at being in such an atmospheric place, often alone. Not any more – all those hands were contributing to erosion and today’s multitudinous visitors may look but not touch.
Stonehenge began as a circular ditch and earth bank constructed around 3100 BC, with the standing stone circle erected some nine centuries later. Research suggests that Stonehenge marked an important burial site, but this prosaic explanation is not accepted by everyone. The purpose of Stonehenge has long been passionately debated with diverse theories mooted – these include religious ritual, astronomical observation and assorted complex and often outlandish supernatural notions. Was it really a landing site for space travellers? Probably not.
Whatever the truth, the place retains an aura of mystery. It was the site of the
Stonehenge Free Festival 1972 and 1984, when revellers gathered to celebrate alternative culture at the summer solstice. That laid-back era came to end in 1985 when the police did battle with ‘New Agers’ bent on reaching Stonehenge after the festival was banned.
Guardians English Heritage relented in 1999, and those who wish to experience the summer solstice in the company of like-minded people are now permitted to do so. Many thousands who gather to do just that invariably experience powerful emotion at the moment when the sun rises over the mystical circle on solstice morning, and find themselves amidst all sorts of alternative believers like neo-pagans and druids in fantastic garb who are conducting esoteric ceremonies. It’s a magical moment, but reality soon intrudes – the site must be cleared by 08.00 so Stonehenge can revert to lucrative ‘tourist business as usual’. (content extracted from 501 Must-be-there Events (501 Series) by David Brown and Arthur Findlay)
English Heritage are pleased to welcome people to Stonehenge to celebrate this year’s Summer Solstice. This is the 17th year that English Heritage has provided access to the stones and are looking forward to a peaceful and sober celebration.
MONDAY 20th JUNE
Access to monument field – 7pm
Sunset – 9:26pm
TUESDAY 21st JUNE
Sunrise – 4:52am
Monument field closes – 8am
- SOLSTICE CAR PARK OPENS 19.00 hours (7pm) 20 June (see new charges)
- ACCESS TO STONEHENGE MONUMENT FIELD 19.00 hours (7pm) 20 June
- LAST ADMISSION TO SOLSTICE CAR PARK 06.00 hours (6am) 21 June – or earlier if full
- STONEHENGE MONUMENT FIELD CLOSES 08.00 hours (8am) 21 June
- SOLSTICE CAR PARK TO BE VACATED 12.00 hours (12 Noon) 21 Jun
“We strongly advise anyone planning to come to Stonehenge for solstice to leave their cars at home and travel by public transport. Salisbury is easily accessible by train and the local Salisbury Reds bus company will be running a special service from Salisbury to Stonehenge through Saturday night and into the next day. Solstice Events are offering their usual transport from Bath and Stonehenge Guided Tours are offering their popular annual tour / transfer from London.
South West Trains
Tel: 0845 6000 650
Tel: 0845 7000 125
National Rail Enquiries
Tel: 0845 7484 950
Open Access 2016 Arrarangements
English Heritage Conditions of entry (Respect the Stones and staff!)
Official English Heritage Stonehenge Visitor Centre Website
Visit Wiltshire Official Website
If you are unable to visit Stonehenge on the Solstice you can watch our LIVE PERISCOPE BROADCAST