Stonehenge enjoys a moment in the sun at summer solstice

21 06 2012
Crowds at Stonehenge at dawn for the summer solstice. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

Crowds at Stonehenge at dawn for the summer solstice. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

As worshippers and revellers descend, the Wiltshire landmark is thriving – inspiring bouncy art and more wild theories than ever

In the 1930s there was an advertisement for an oil company that went: “Stonehenge Wilts, but Shell goes on forever.” In 2012, with oil supplies falling and the remnants of the iconic slabs indomitable on the windswept plains of Wiltshire, the truth is surely otherwise.”The stones themselves still stand, enduring in a society which is not,” argues Christopher Chippindale, of the University of Cambridge’s museum of archaeology and anthropology, who is also author of the book Stonehenge Complete. Today the World Heritage’s foremost lintelled sarsen structure is not just enduring but thriving, spawning more academic research, wild theorising, bouncy art, and pagan robe sales than ever.

Just consider some of the Stonehenge activities that will take place in the next few weeks. At sunrise on Thursday, the 14,500 transcendence questing druids and varied revellers may have been outnumbered only by world weary media drones as they tried to celebrate the summer solstice at the 4.52am sunrise (ideally in line with English Heritage’s stringent Conditions of Entry document, which might be downloaded by socially responsible pagans). Heavy rain overnight reduced the number of people who camped out or arrived early to witness the dawn compared with previous years, which have seen numbers of around 20,000.

And in Wales there was also a chance to get excited about mid-summer – for Stonehenge’s inflatable simulacrum has arrived at the National Botanic Garden in Carmarthenshire. Although the rain may have dampened spirits.

Jeremy Deller’s Sacrilege, first placed in public on Glasgow Green, will be inflated to pop up in the capital as part of what sceptics would call that oxymoron the Cultural Olympiad.

Is there anything more fun than a 35-metre bouncy castle that looks like Stonehenge, you ask? Not until they make a bouncy Warwick Castle with water slide into a moat laced with gin, I reply.

What is Deller, the Turner prize-winning artist, up to? “It’s a very entry-level way into thinking about ancient history for five-year-olds,” he says. True, but several bouncing Glaswegians were at least 45 years older than that target demographic. “It’s good to play with our history and culture. Stonehenge is part of British identity but no one knows what it was for.”

Good point. Ever since King Arthur’s dad, Utherpendragon, invaded Ireland, defeated an army and shipped Stonehenge from Ireland to Salisbury with the help of the wizard Merlin, the stones have sunk themselves ever deeper into British national consciousness.

In chapter 58 of Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, for instance, slimy Angel Clare and the dopey heroine are walking fugitively through darkling Wessex when “on a sudden, Clare became conscious of some vast erection close in his front [Oh grow up!], rising sheer from the grass … ‘It is Stonehenge!’ said Clare. ‘The heathen temple, you mean?'”

Tess lies down on a sun-warmed stone. “‘Did they sacrifice to God here?’ asked she. ‘No,’ said he. ‘Who to?’ ‘I believe to the sun. That lofty stone set away by itself is in the direction of the sun that will presently rise behind it.'”

Victorians wrote yards of this stuff: anybody who was anybody in 19th-century fiction got arrested, died, or got it on on those stones.

Incidentally, if you are Irish and thinking that the paragraph above suggests Stonehenge is like the Elgin Marbles and should be repatriated immediately, think again; according to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s marvellously unreliable 12th-century History of the Kings of Britain (the leading medieval account of Stonehenge’s origin), Irish giants transported the stones from Africa to Ireland earlier and used them as a curative bath until they were nicked by King Arthur’s dad.

Part of Stonehenge’s appeal is that it’s a riddle wrapped in mythology, swathed in druidical vestments and draped in a dodgy, if grand, relationship to the cosmos. Over the millennia, intellectuals have cast it as vast cosmic clock wound up by woad-daubed neolithic nudists (a theory embellished recently by archaeologists at Birmingham University’s Ludwig Boltzman Institute).

Other thinkers, like the 17th -century architect Inigo Jones, maintained ancient Britons were too thick to have created such a sophisticated edifice, and concluded it must have been Roman.

Today we aren’t sure who built it or why. Was it a burial ground, a magnet for crusty rave-ups, a sacred zone where our bearded forebears chillaxed old school, or a mystic portal to the celestial superhighway?

“Stonehenge sets a puzzle that has never been solved,” notes Chippindale.

Could Stonehenge have functioned as a helipad for Lord Sugar’s neolithic ancestors? It’s not impossible. More likely it resembled a lecture theatre with uncomfortable seating and no power sockets. Archaeo-acoustic researchers at Salford and Huddersfield universities suggested as much recently after examining the 5,000-year-old-structure’s acoustic properties.

Their work, at the site and at a concrete replica in Washington, indicates that Stonehenge had the sort of acoustics desirable in a lecture hall.

It wasn’t only the sight of Stonehenge that would have blown ancient visitors away.

Bruno Fazenda, professor at the University of Salford, says: “As they walked inside they would have perceived the sound environment around them had changed in some way.” Lucky them: all you can hear nowadays is the traffic howl from the A303.

Ever since those ancient days of magic stones shipped from Ireland, Stonehenge has satisfied a yearning among the citizens of these lands for mystic grandeur. That yearning will be kindled in July when the flaming French move in to Stonehenge.

Compagnie Carabosse will turn the site into a “fire garden” with flaming pots animating the stones, and cascades of candles lining the pathways. Think: rows of tea lights running down your garden path as you sink a sundowner, but much, much, more poncy.

Shortly afterwards, in the culmination of Stonehenge’s 2012, diggers will move in to right one of the most grievous historic wrongs in modern Britain. The stones will be moved slightly to the right away from the A303 and into proper alignment with the sun.

I’m kidding. In fact, the bulldozers will rip up the inadequate car park and visitor centre that have been a national disgrace since 1968.

Simon Thurley, English Heritage’s chief executive, said of the £27m makeover: “These are crucial steps which bring closer the transformation of the currently blighted Stonehenge landscape.” The centre will be moved 1.5 miles away and visitors will get to the stones on a low-key transit system or, as others call it, a Noddy train. Noddy Goes To Stonehenge – what a film!

There have been films, indeed. In National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985), Mr Griswold gives an affecting speech on the monument’s indomitability before climbing into his rental car and (can you see the gag yet?) reversing and toppling the thing like dominoes. Hilarious: in reality an Austin Maxi couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding.

In the no less amusing Shanghai Knights (2003), this gag is reprised when the two main characters crash their car into Stonehenge. One says: “Who the hell would put a pile of stones in the middle of a field?” Somewhere someone’s writing a PhD on Hollywood’s symbolic castration of British heritage by means of such movie demolition jobs.

Stonehenge’s image reached its mock-heroic apogee in the rocku/mocku-mentary This is Spinal Tap (1984). Picture the scene: the band’s plotting a comeback tour involving a lavish stage show featuring a replica of the monument as a backdrop to their pomp rock classic, Stonehenge. Only one problem, the order for the prop goes wrong and instead of being 18ft high it’s 18in tall, making the band a laughing stock.

Did Deller consider this pitfall in making his scaled-down bouncy version? You’d think.

He never thought, though, of emulating Steven Moffat’s insanely elaborate cosmological topography in the 2010 two-part special of Doctor Who, The Pandorica Opens. All the doctor’s many enemies hover above Stonehenge, while below in Underhenge lies the fabled prison of Pandorica holding the universe’s most detested and feared prisoner, Jeremy Clarkson at the co-ordinates of a worrying fissure in the universe’s frankly baffling structure.

Actually, it wasn’t Clarkson but some being even more unimaginably evil.

Most of the filming took place at Foamhenge, a lightweight replica set up near Port Talbot. It was there that the doctor battled an army of cybermen and others in what proved to be a critic-slaying, award-winning and discombobulatingly mytho-metaphysical fuss. Very Moffat, very Stonehenge.

It was also indicative of what Stonehenge really is: an open text, endlessly interpretable and readily bendable to our times and imagination. “It is a mirror which reflects back, more or less distorted, that view of the past which the onlooker takes there,” Chippindale says. Long may that continue.

Link Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/jun/21/stonehenge-moment-sun-summer-solstice?newsfeed=true

Merln says “Good time had by all!”
Check out my TouTube Channel and Flickr Accoint later

Merlin @ Stonehenge

 





The Ancestor is going to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice

13 06 2012

LOCALLY based soldiers are to move an eye-catching 20 foot high giant man of steel from its current position just off the A303 to the very fitting ancient setting of Stonehenge over 18/19 June  2012.

Personnel from 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, based in Larkhill, will dismantle the six ton statue known as “The Ancestor” at its current site just off the A303 outside the Holiday Inn at Solstice  Park near Amesbury, on Monday 18 June.

The Solstice Ancestor

The Solstice Ancestor

Then the following day, Tuesday 19 June, the team of six soldiers will take the parts to Stonehenge, where they will put it back together near the World Heritage Site, where it will remain until  after the Summer Solstice on Thursday 21 June.

“The Ancestor”, which depicts a man on his knees in praise of the sun, is a big as a double-decker bus. It was created by Andy and Michelle Rawlings with thousands of randomly cut steel pieces  welded on to a super-sized steel frame.

It took them nine months and they did it by eye and without computer aided design.

Following the Summer Solstice, The Ancestor, which now wears a crown fitted with copper diamonds following its crowning to mark the Diamond Jubilee, will be moved to Hudson’s Field in Salisbury for  the Olympic Torch event in July

25ft Steel Ancestor Celebrates Solstice at Stonehenge
Sonehenge summer solstice 2012 is to be marked by the debut of a 25ft-high steel statue. ‘The Ancestor’, created by local sculptors Andrew Rowlings and Michelle Topps with help from Druids and the local community, will sit 70m from the stone circle and provide an alternative focus of revelry and worship at sunrise, easing congestion within Stonehenge itself.   The Ancestor is as tall as a double-decker bus, and weights a huge seven tons. It has been shrouded in secrecy until today to prevent a further swell of people visiting the already overcrowded event in Wiltshire, which tonight is thought to top the 40,000 mark. Local schools, as well as Cub Scout and Brownie groups have been hard at work on the project, which supposedly represents the spirituality of the ancient people who created Stonehenge with nothing but primitive tools (watch a video about how we’ve had Stonehenge wrong for centuries here).

AR Metalcraft: The Ancestor: http://www.armetalcraft.co.uk/

Link Source : http://www.thisishampshire.net/news/9755532.The_Ancestor_is_going_to_Stonehenge/

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

Merlin says”Fantastic news”

Merlin @ Stonehenege
The Stonehenge News Blog





SUMMER SOLSTICE AT STONEHENGE 2012 – CONDITIONS OF ENTRY

9 06 2012

Stonehenge is an ancient pre-historic site. It has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Summer Solstice since time immemorial.

Stonehenge Summer Solstice

Stonehenge Summer Solstice

English Hege is pleased to be providing Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice. Please help us to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines set out on the following pages. We have a duty of care to ensure public safety and are responsible for the protection of Stonehenge and its surrounding Monuments. If we are to ensure that future access is sustainable, it is essential that everyone observes and abides by these Conditions of Entry.

CELEBRATING THE SUMMER SOLSTICE AT STONEHENGE
During the Summer Solstice access to Stonehenge, we support all individuals and groups conducting their own forms of ceremony and celebration providing that they are mutually respectful and tolerant of one another. It is a place seen by many as a sacred site – therefore please respect it and those attending. English Heritage continues to work closely with the many agencies and people from all sectors of the community and we would like to thank them for their help and support. Parking and entry to the Monument will be free, subject to the Conditions of Entry. Please do not arrive at the Solstice Car Park or Stonehenge in advance of the opening times listed below:

TIMINGS FOR SUMMER SOLSTICE AT STONEHENGE

SOLSTICE CAR PARK OPENS
1900 hours (7pm) Wednesday 20th June
ACCESS TO STONEHENGE
1900 hours (7pm) Wednesday 20th June
LAST ADMISSION TO SOLSTICE CAR PARK
0600 hours (6am) Thursday 21st June
STONEHENGE CLOSES
0800 hours (8am) Thursday 21st June
SOLSTICE CAR PARK TO BE VACATED
1200 hours (12 Noon) Thursday 21st June – see the pages on Travel and Parking for further information on travel and parking arrangements.

WE HOPE THE WEATHER WILL BE KIND AND WISH YOU A PEACEFUL AND CELEBRATORY SOLSTICE.
Sunset and sunrise occur at the following times:
Sunset on Wednesday 20th June 2012 is at 2126 hrs (9.26pm)
Sunrise on Thursday 21st June 2012 is at 0452 hrs (4.52am)
ADMISSION TO STONEHENGE

Admission to the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge is free of charge.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Please remember that you will not be allowed access to the Monument with the following items:
– Large quantities of alcohol
– Drugs
– Large bags or rucksacks (or similar items)
– Sleeping bags or duvets
– Flaming torches, Chinese lanterns or candles
– Dogs (with the exception of registered assistance dogs), pets or other creatures
– Camping equipment, including foldaway chairs, garden furniture
– BBQs or gas cylinders
– Glass/bottles or other glass objects
– Trolleys, wheel barrows or any other form of porterage
– Pushchairs or buggies that are not exclusively used for a child

GLASS
Glass is not allowed at the Monument as many people walk barefoot and, in addition, livestock and wildlife also graze in the area. If you bring any glass items with you, they will be confiscated.

ALCOHOL
Drunken, disorderly, and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated; ejection, possibly by the Police without return, will be the outcome. Only small amounts of alcohol for personal use will be permitted on to site. Alcohol is limited to no more than the equivalent of four 500ml cans of beer/cider or 75cl of wine. No further alcohol will be permitted on subsequent re-entry. Be warned, drug/alcohol cocktails can be lethal, so please be fully of aware of what you are doing.

DRUGS
Illegal drugs are still illegal at Stonehenge as they are anywhere else. The police will be on site during the access period and will take immediate action against anyone breaking the law. Summer Solstice is not a good time to experiment with drugs – the crowd, the noise and the sheer size of the place are likely to make any bad reaction much, much worse. As much of the access is at night, if you had a bad reaction it may be difficult to locate you to administer treatment.

MUSIC
Stonehenge is a world renowned historic Monument and it is seen by many who attend as a sacred site. Amplified Music is inappropriate and will not be permitted.

CAMPING AND FIRES
Camping, fires, chinese lanterns, flaming torches, BBQs and fireworks are NOT permitted at Stonehenge, in the Solstice Car Park, or anywhere in the surrounding National Trust land. Please see Useful information for further details of local campsites.

SAFETY
Do not climb or stand on any of the stones – this includes the stones that have fallen. This is in the interest of personal safety, the protection of this special site and respect for those attending. As well as putting the stones themselves at risk, climbing on them can damage the delicate lichens. In order to ensure personal safety, random searching may be undertaken, but we hope that self-policing and personal responsibility will prevail. Any items that might be used in an illegal or offensive manner will be confiscated.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/summer-solstice/conditions-entry/

Merlin says “Stonehenge is  a sacred site – please respect it and please respect each other “

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

Merlin @ Stonehenge





STONEHENGE SUMMER SOLSTICE 2012

25 04 2012

Stonehenge is an ancient pre-historic site. It has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Summer Solstice since time immemorial.

Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2012

Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2012

English Heritage is pleased to be providing Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice. Please help us to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines set out on the following pages. We have a duty of care to ensure public safety and are responsible for the protection of Stonehenge and its surrounding Monuments. If we are to ensure that future access is sustainable, it is essential that everyone observes and abides by these Conditions of Entry.

During the Summer Solstice access to Stonehenge, we support all individuals and groups conducting their own forms of ceremony and celebration providing that they are mutually respectful and tolerant of one another. It is a place seen by many as a sacred site – therefore please respect it and those attending.

English Heritage continues to work closely with the many agencies and people from all sectors of the community and we would like to thank them for their help and support.

Parking and entry to the Monument will be free, subject to the Conditions of Entry. Please do not arrive at the Solstice Car Park or Stonehenge in advance of the opening times listed below:

SOLSTICE CAR PARK OPENS
1900 hours (7pm) Wednesday 20th June
ACCESS TO STONEHENGE
1900 hours (7pm) Wednesday 20th June

LAST ADMISSION TO SOLSTICE CAR PARK
0600 hours (6am) Thursday 21st June
STONEHENGE CLOSES
0800 hours (8am) Thursday 21st June
SOLSTICE CAR PARK TO BE VACATED
1200 hours (12 Noon) Thursday 21st June – see the pages on Travel and Parking for further information on travel and parking arrangements.
WE HOPE THE WEATHER WILL BE KIND AND WISH YOU A PEACEFUL AND CELEBRATORY SOLSTICE.
Sunset and sunrise occur at the following times:

  • Sunset on Wednesday 20th June 2012 is at 2126 hrs (9.26pm)
  • Sunrise on Thursday 21st June 2012 is at 0452 hrs (4.52am)TRANSPORT FROM LONDON: As usual our friends at The ‘Stonehenge Tour Company’ will be providing tours and transport from London – click here

ENGLISH HERITAGE CONDITIONS OF ENTRYCLICK HERE

Helpful links

For directions, click here.
For bookings, dog policy etc., you need to contact English Heritage, click here, the custodians of the site.
For special access to the Stones (not during the Solstice), click here.
The Avebury complex is a must on your itinerary and only a short journey, north, from Stonehenge. There is free, open access to the whole of this huge site. click here for more information.
Stonehenge and Solstice News / updates: https://twitter.com/#!/ST0NEHENGE 

Link Source: http://www.efestivals.co.uk/festivals/stonehenge/2012/
Link source: http://www.visit-stonehenge.org/2012/04/summer-solstice-celebrations-at.html

Merlin says “Respect the Stones and see you there”






Stonehenge Summer Solstice Celebrations 2012 – June 20th / June 21st

15 02 2012

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 Wednesday 20th June. The car park (enter off the A303 from the roundabout – it’s signposted) will open at around 7pm on Wenesday 20th June, and close at around noon on Thursday 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 Wednesday 20th June until 8am on Thursday 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 5.14am.- in 2012

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 Wednesday 20th June and run regularly until 0115 hours (1.15am) on Thursday 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 2012’
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 updates – 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








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