18,000 gather at a cloudy Stonehenge for all-night summer solstice party

22 06 2011

Tens of thousands of revellers gathered at Stonehenge for an all-night party to celebrate the longest day of the year this morning – despite grey clouds that obscured the sunrise.

Here comes the sun: Revellers cheer as the sun finally breaks through the clouds, more than a couple of hours after daybreak

Here comes the sun: Revellers cheer as the sun finally breaks through the clouds, more than a couple of hours after daybreak

English Heritage say 18,000 revellers descended on the site that is usually roped off to the public to witness dawn at exactly 4.43am. The event is significant for druids, who were joined by hippies, pagans and tourists as well as hordes of younger visitors in search of a good party.

However the number of people who camped out overnight or arrived early to witness the dawn was down on previous years because of the poor weather and the solstice falling on a weekday.

There was no beautiful sunrise into clear blue skies – heavy overnight rain gave way to overcast but dry skies as the sun rose, greeted by cheering and applause.

The self-styled King Arthur Pendragon, the veteran druid who led the event, said it had passed off smoothly.

‘We didn’t get a great sunrise but it was dry,’ he said. ‘Everyone seems happy with the result.

‘It is great to see the stones being used in this way, as opposed to the usual manner with tourists being herded around.’

Stonehenge, which is between 4,000 and 5,000 years old, has in past years been the site of confrontations between revellers and police.

But Superintendent Gavin Williams, of Wiltshire Police, said the majority of the crowd this year were well-behaved and ‘came to see the sunrise in the spirit of the event’, which was policed in the same way as night spots in the county. However, two men were photographed fighting at the event.

Of the 20 arrests, 11 were for drugs offences and five for public

Mr Williams said: ‘Although it was disappointing that some individuals chose to bring drugs with them, they were dealt with robustly.’

English Heritage, which manages the Stonehenge site on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, said the atmosphere had been ‘peaceful and good natured’.

The annual event is a modern take on solstice celebrations which were once a highlight of the pre-Christian calendar. Celebrations focus on the Heelstone, which sits just outside the main circle, and is aligned with the midsummer sunrise.

The solstice is one of the few times access is granted inside the stone circle, which has been roped off since 1978 following years of erosion and vandalism.

Stonehenge’s origins remain a mystery, but one theory is that it is a huge astronomical calendar. Others say an ancient sun-worshipping culture aligned the structure with the midsummer sunrise and the midwinter sunset.

The World Heritage site was used as a cremation cemetery since its inception, archaeologists say, but it is unclear if that was its principal function.

It was build in three phases, with stones brought from up to 150 miles away, between 3000 BC and 1600 BC

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2006112/Summer-solstice-18-000-gather-cloudy-Stonehenge-night-party.html

Sponsored by the Stonehenge Tour Company – www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle website





Druids celebrate summer solstice at Stonehenge for first time as mainstream faith

17 06 2011

When robed Druids gather at Stonehenge for the summer solstice in next week, they will be worshipping at the prehistoric stone-circle monument for the first time as members of an established religion under British charity law. The classification means members of the ancient pagan tradition, which some see as a curiosity of Britain’s ancient past, have mainstream status equal to the Church of England. The change of status, which is controversial, gives them tax advantages.
Stonehenge Druid

Opponents of the change of status regard it as a mistake made for the sake of political correctness by a government agency, the Charity Commission. The see it as the first step to recognition of Scientology, sorcery, witchcraft or even the Jedi as religions eligible for tax-exempt status. The 2001 census recorded the country as having some 390,127 Jedi, the fictional Star Wars religion, in England and Wales.

After a four-year campaign by the Druids, the Charity Commission says it accepts that they worship nature and believe in the spirits of places such as mountains and rivers, as well as in divine guides.

Druids are best known for the gathering at Stonehenge each year on Jun 21 to greet the dawn, but they hold festivals eight times a year to mark stages in the solar and lunar cycles. Encyclopedia Britannica describes the ancient Druids as members of the learned class among the Celts. They do not worship a single god or creator, but seek to cultivate a sacred relationship with the natural world. The earliest known records of the Druids come from the 3rd Century BC. 

RELATED READING:

Druids: Worshippers of nature who were said to sacrifice humans (Telegraph 2 Oct 2010)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/8037258/Druids-Worshippers-of-nature-who-were-said-to-sacrifice-humans.html

MELANIE PHILIPS: Druids as an official religion? Stones of Praise here we come (Daily Mail 4 Oct 2010)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1317490/Druids-official-religion-Stones-Praise-come.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Stonehenge preperations
THOUSANDS of revellers are expected to descend upon Stonehenge for this year’s Summer Solstice.
Sunrise will occur at about 4.45am on June 21, which is the longest day of the year.
English Heritage is opening Stonehenge to the public from 7pm on Monday, June 20, to 8am the following day.
The Solstice car park, just off the A303, will open from 7pm on Monday, June 20, with last admission at 6am on Tuesday, June 21. Access to the stones and car park will be free of charge but organisers have advised people to use public transport where possible.
Wilts and Dorset bus company will be running a regular service from Salisbury railway station, via the bus station, from 6.30pm on the Monday evening through to 1.15am on Tuesday. A return service will operate frequently from 4am to 9.45am on Tuesday – with buses stopping at any recognised bus stop along the Amesbury route

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’  www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin at Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle website





Stonehenge Summer Solstice advice for drivers – 2011

15 06 2011

Traffic on the A303 at Stonehenge is expected to be very busy on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st June during the summer solstice celebrations.
A303 Stonehenge trafficPeople travelling to Stonehenge are advised to use public transport where possible. People arriving by car and through traffic on the A303 are advised to allow longer for their journeys.

Motorists can get up-to-the-minute advice about roadworks and travelling conditions by visiting the Highways Agency website www.highways.gov.uk, or telephone the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000 at any time. Calls from landlines to 0300 and 08700 numbers can cost up to 8p per minute but are free from some landline providers: calls from mobiles usually cost more.

Before using any mobile, find a safe place to park. Never stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway except in an emergency. Make sure it’s safe and legal before you call.

http://www.hgvuk.com/06/15/stonehenge-summer-solstice-advice-for-drivers/

Follow Stonehenge on twitter for all the latest news and updates during the solstice celebrations:  http:www.TWITTER.COM/ST0NEHENGE.COM

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website

 





Druids celebrate summer solstice for first time as mainstream faith

8 06 2011

When robed Druids gather at Stonehenge for the summer solstice in 2011, they will be worshipping at the prehistoric stone-circle monument for the first time as members of an established religion under British charity law. The classification means members of the ancient pagan tradition, which some see as a curiosity of Britain’s ancient past, have mainstream status equal to the Church of England. The change of status, which is controversial, gives them tax advantages.
Stonehenge solstice druids

Opponents of the change of status regard it as a mistake made for the sake of political correctness by a government agency, the Charity Commission. The see it as the first step to recognition of Scientology, sorcery, witchcraft or even the Jedi as religions eligible for tax-exempt status. The 2001 census recorded the country as having some 390,127 Jedi, the fictional Star Wars religion, in England and Wales.

After a four-year campaign by the Druids, the Charity Commission says it accepts that they worship nature and believe in the spirits of places such as mountains and rivers, as well as in divine guides.

Druids are best known for the gathering at Stonehenge each year on Jun 21 to greet the dawn, but they hold festivals eight times a year to mark stages in the solar and lunar cycles. Encyclopedia Britannica describes the ancient Druids as members of the learned class among the Celts. They do not worship a single god or creator, but seek to cultivate a sacred relationship with the natural world. The earliest known records of the Druids come from the 3rd Century BC. 

RELATED READING:
Druids: Worshippers of nature who were said to sacrifice humans (Telegraph 2 Oct 2010)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/8037258/Druids-Worshippers-of-nature-who-were-said-to-sacrifice-humans.html

MELANIE PHILIPS: Druids as an official religion? Stones of Praise here we come (Daily Mail 4 Oct 2010)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1317490/Druids-official-religion-Stones-Praise-come.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Sponsored by ‘The Stonehenge Tour Company’ www.StonehengeTours.com

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website
Follow me on twitter for all the Solsice news: http:/www.TWITTER.COM/ST0NEHENGE





Archaeostrononomer Gerald Hawkins died today 2003

26 05 2011

Gerald Stanley Hawkins

Gerald Hawkins

Gerald Hawkins

Astronomer who claimed Stonehenge was a computer

· Gerald Stanley Hawkins, archaeoastronomer and author, born April 20 1928; died May 26 2003.

(1928–2003) was an English astronomer and author most famous for his work in the field of archaeoastronomy. A professor and chair of the astronomy department at Boston University in the United States. In 1965 he published an analysis of Stonehenge in which he was the first to propose its purpose as an ancient astronomical observatory used to predict movements of sun and stars. Archeologists and other scholars have since demonstrated such sophisticated, complex planning and construction at other prehistoric earthwork sites, such as Cahokia in the United States.

Gerald Hawkins’ work
Gerald Hawkins’ work on Stonehenge was first published in Nature in 1963 following analyses he had carried out using the Harvard-Smithsonian IBM computer. Hawkins found not one or two alignments but dozens. He had studied 165 significant features at the monument and used the computer to check every alignment between them against every rising and setting point for the sun, moon, planets, and bright stars in the positions they would have been in 1500 BC. Thirteen solar and eleven lunar correlations were very precise against the early features at the site with precision falling during the megalithic stages. Hawkins also proposed a method for using the Aubrey holes to predict lunar eclipses by moving markers from hole to hole. In 1965 Hawkins wrote (with J. B. White) Stonehenge Decoded, which detailed his findings and proposed that the monument was a ‘Neolithic computer’.

Atkinson replied with his article “Moonshine on Stonehenge” in Antiquity in 1966, pointing out that some of the pits which Hawkins had used for his sight lines were more likely to have been natural depressions, and that he had allowed a margin of error of up to 2 degrees in his alignments. Atkinson found that the probability of so many alignments being visible from 165 points to be close to 0.5 (or rather 50:50) rather that the “one in a million” possibility which Hawkins had claimed. That the Station Stones stood on top of the earlier Aubrey Holes meant that many of Hawkins’ alignments between the two features were illusory. The same article by Atkinson contains further criticisms of the interpretation of Aubrey Holes as astronomical markers, and of Fred Hoyle’s work.

A question exists over whether the English climate would have permitted accurate observation of astronomical events. Modern researchers were looking for alignments with phenomena they already knew existed; the prehistoric users of the site did not have this advantage.

Later Stonehenge theories

Although Stonehenge has become an increasingly popular destination during the summer solstice, with 26,000 people visiting in 2010, scholars have developed growing evidence that indicates prehistoric people visited the site only during the winter solstice. The only megalithic monuments in the British Isles to contain a clear, compelling solar alignment are Newgrange and Maeshowe, which both famously face the winter solstice sunrise.

The most recent such evidence supporting the theory of winter visits includes bones and teeth from pigs which were slaughtered at nearby Durrington Walls. Their age at death indicating that they were slaughtered either in December or January every year. Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield has said, “We have no evidence that anyone was in the landscape in summer.”

From the Guardian 2003

In 1961, Gerald Hawkins, who has died of a heart attack aged 75, was professor of physics and astronomy at Boston University in Massachusetts. It was then that he returned to Salisbury Plain to film the sun rise over the marker Heelstone at Stonehenge. Assistants meanwhile plotted every stone and pit, punched coordinates on to cards and fed them, and astronomical data, into an IBM 704.This was at a time when computers were rare and glamorous. Asking that age’s technological wonder to decipher the ancient world’s icon was a gesture of timely genius. The journal Nature published Hawkins’s first results in 1963. Two years later Stonehenge Decoded, written by Hawkins with John B White, was published in the US.The IBM machines, Hawkins argued, showed Stonehenge to be a neolithic computer-observatory for predicting eclipses of the sun and moon. From New York to Iraq, newspapers praised the professor and his computer for rewriting prehistory. Stone-age savages were revealed as skilled scientists.

Archaeologists were less happy. They sniffed at his “overconfident style”, resented his publicity and questioned his results. Hawkins’s statistics were shown to be dodgy; he had contrived a computer from a monument believed to have developed piecemeal over centuries.

Stonehenge excavator Richard Atkinson described Hawkins’s book as: “tendentious, arrogant, slipshod, and unconvincing” – for him the builders of Stonehenge were “howling barbarians”.

The popular archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes, meanwhile, observed that “every age has the Stonehenge it deserves – or desires”.

Hawkins claimed surprise at the response. That contribution to Nature was his 61st scientific paper and many of his others, on subjects such as tektites, meteors and steady-state universe theory seemed to him more exciting. But none of his other dozen books was as successful.

Hawkins had changed the way we think about Stonehenge, and inspired the science of archaeo-astronomy. Repeated studies have failed to do more than support a few solar, and perhaps lunar alignments, and deny a computational function. Yet in the public mind, Stonehenge is now fixed as an observatory and computer. Stonehenge Decoded initiated a debate still alive, and inspired the first generation of archaeo-astronomers.

Hawkins also analysed the Nazca lines in Peru and the temple of Amun at Karnak, Egypt. He recently developed a crop circles theory based on Euclidean geometry and musical intervals. He first saw Stonehenge in 1953, when working at nearby Larkhill camp. He read that the monument was aligned on midsummer sunrise, a fact first noted by William Stukeley in the 18th century, and made much of by Sir Norman Lockyer in 1906.

Hawkins’s hometown was Great Yarmouth. He obtained his first degree at Nottingham University in 1949 in physics, with pure maths subsidiary, and a PhD in radio astronomy under Sir Bernard Lovell at Manchester University in 1952.

Manchester awarded him a DSc in 1963 for astronomical research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Observatories. He was professor of astronomy and chairman of the department at Boston University (1957-69), and dean of the liberal arts Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (1969-71).

Boston presented him with the Shell award for distinguished writing in 1965. Other awards came from the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academy of Sciences, and he was a proud member of the prestigious intellectual Cosmos Club, Washington DC. He was a science advisor to the US Information Agency.

Hawkins was dedicated to his research, and enthusiastic and generous with those ready to listen. He was due to address an Oxford conference with a new Stonehenge study and, to the surprise of some British academics, he continued to see himself as an Englishman. He leaves his second wife, Julia Dobson.

Links: http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=2146410963
Sponsors: The Stonehenge Tour Company, www.StonehengeTours.com

Respect!

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Stonehenge: Could 2011’s solstice mass event be the last?

8 05 2011
 

As we recently observed people are fully entitled to see Stonehenge as their temple. However, while such claims are harmless in themselves they have also been responsible for some unwelcome effects. For isn’t it clear that a wish to avoid offending people of a spiritual nature has led to a reluctance to say that no, access by tens of thousands of revellers at Summer Solstice is unseemly and damaging and really must end?
1995 Stonehenge Summer Solstice

Get off those Stones! 1995 Stonehenge Summer Solstice

It seems to us there’s an easy and equitable solution that balances tourism, spirituality and conservation in a proper manner:

1. No more thousands of tipsy revellers standing on the stones. (It’s recent, not traditional, it carries a risk of damage to both the monument and the revellers and brings shame on our country – and it simply shouldn’t happen as English Heritage knows full well.)
2. Spiritual people yes. Of course. But in limited numbers, selected by ballot from the membership of well established pagan organisations.
3. Other people (whether non-spiritual or spiritual but without demonstrable group affiliations), yes of course and also in limited numbers, selected by ballot from those who apply.

So how many in total? That’s entirely EH’s affair, depending purely on how many they think can be safely and sensibly admitted without imposing a risk of damage or broadcasting an image to the world that we don’t treat Stonehenge as it should be treated.  It’s certainly time they decided what they could cope with rather than unsuccessfully trying to cope with many times more than they can!

So let’s SHARE Stonehenge, it’s the obvious thing to do. But not abuse it, which is also obvious.

If spiritual people agree to that and people in general agree to that (following a consultation) then English Heritage could surely have a mandate to make radical changes to what happens at Stonehenge as soon as next year? 

How about it?

Article extracted rom the excellent Heritage Journal – http://heritageaction.wordpress.com/
Sponsored by the Stonehenge Tour Company

Follow us on twitter for all the Stonehenge Summer Solstice News: http://www/twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website





Stonehenge Summer Solstice Celebrations 2011 – June 20th / June 21st

27 04 2011

English Heritage are again expected to provide “Managed Open Access” to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice. Please help to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the conditions (see below).

Please note that a high volume of traffic is anticipated in the Stonehenge area on the evening of Sunday 20th June. The car park (enter off the A303 from the roundabout – it’s signposted) will open at around 7pm on Monday 20th June, and close at around noon on Tuesday 21st June.
Note that last admission to the car park for vehicles is at around 6am. Access Access to the stones themselves is expected to be from around 8.30pm on Monday 20th June until 8am on Tuesday 21st June.

Stonehenge Summer Solstice

 There’s likely to be casual entertainment from samba bands & drummers but no amplified music is allowed. When you visit Stonehenge for the Solstice, please remember it is a Sacred Place to many and should be respected. Van loads of police have been present in the area in case of any trouble, but generally a jovial mood prevails. Few arrests have been made in previous years, mostly in relation to minor drug offences.

Facilities Toilets and drinking water are available and welfare is provided by festival welfare services. There are normally one or two food and drink vans with reasonable prices but huge queues, all well away from the stones themselves.

Sunrise is at around 4:45am.

Conditions Rules include no camping, no dogs, no fires or fireworks, no glass bottles, no large bags or rucksacks, and no climbing onto the stones. Please use the bags given free on arrival and take them out, filled with your litter, to the skips provided.

Please respect the rules so that we’re all able to enjoy the solstice morning at Stonehenge for years to come.

Getting there: Where possible, please travel to Stonehenge using public transport. The local bus company, Wilts & Dorset, will be running a service from Salisbury railway and bus stations to Stonehenge over the Solstice period. This bus service will commence at 1830 hours (6.30pm) on Monday 20th June and run regularly until 0115 hours (1.15am) on Tuesday 21st June. A service taking people back to Salisbury will start again at 0400 hours (4am) and run frequently until 0945 hours (9.45am). Access to Stonehenge from the bus drop off point is through the National Trust farmland. More information will be here when available.  Needless to say this service is extremly busy, please allow plenty of time.

From London: Our friends at the ‘Stonehenge Tour Company’ will be offering their usual small group unobtrusive tours to the solstice from London.  There are two services departing London at 4pm and 1am – Click here: ‘Stonehenge Summer Solstice Tour 2011’
Stonehenge summer solstice tours

LINKS: http://www.efestivals.co.uk/festivals/stonehenge/2011/
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/explore/summer-solstice-2011/:
http://www.thestonehengetour.info/

TWITTER: Follow Stonehenge on twitter.  Get all the latest news and Solstice uddates – http://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

FACEBOOK: Join Stonehenge on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stonehenge.tours

See you all at the Summer Solstice, yipee……………..

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website








%d bloggers like this: