THOUSANDS gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the first sunrise after the winter solstice.

23 12 2017

Thousands of people gathered at Stonehenge to witness the sunrise on the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

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Crowds arrived at the Wiltshire landmark before dawn with many others travelling to the Avebury stone circle, which is also in the county.

The winter solstice marks the point when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun.

The solstice occurred at 04:49 GMT, with the sun rising at 08:04.

Pagans and druids dressed in traditional clothing joined families and a choir to mark the end of the longest night of the year.

Thick cloud at the prehistoric site in Wiltshire meant the sunrise, at 8.10am, was not visible.

Kate Davies, of English Heritage, said: “We were delighted to welcome approximately 5,000 people to Stonehenge to celebrate winter solstice this morning.

“It was an enjoyable and peaceful celebration despite the damp weather and it was great to see so many families enjoying the music and chanting around the monument.

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Thousands gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice

22 12 2016

Thousands of people gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice.

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Stonehenge was built over 5,000 thousands years ago and remains a place of spiritual significance for many. Credit: PA

Druids and pagans were among the crowd that watched the sun come up at 8.13am on the shortest day of the year.

People, some dressed in traditional pagan clothing, danced, played musical instruments and kissed the ancient stones.

One South African woman said she had made the trip to the UK “especially for the solstice”.

She said: “I am a Pagan, a witch and this is about the best place to be.”

Kate Davies from English Heritage, who manage the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, said: “We were delighted to welcome approximately 5,000 people to Stonehenge to celebrate winter solstice this morning.

It was a very enjoyable and peaceful celebration and the ancient stone circle was filled with the sound of drumming and chanting.”

There will be just seven hours, 49 minutes and 41 seconds of daylight on 21 December, almost nine hours less than the year’s longest day in June.

Stonehenge was built over 5,000 thousands years ago and remains a place of spiritual significance for many people.

Crowds gather at the UNESCO World Heritage Site on the shortest and longest days of the year as the stones are aligned to the sunset of the winter solstice and the opposing sunrise of the summer solstice.

Some experts believe the winter solstice was more important to our ancient ancestors than the summer solstice as the longest night marked a turning of the year as the days begin to grow longer.

Article source: ITV NEWS

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Why Thousands Of Pagans Gather At Stonehenge For The Winter Solstice

17 12 2016

The prehistoric site holds spiritual significance for many Pagans and Druids.

While some are buying presents and trimming their tree for Christmas, a very different kind of spiritual celebration gets underway every year at Stonehenge. It’s the winter solstice, also known as Yule in some Pagan circles, and the occasion draws thousands of Pagans, Druids, spiritual seekers and tourists to the prehistoric site for a reverent and ecstatic ceremony.

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The sun peeks through clouds during a winter solstice ceremony at the ancient neolithic monument of Stonehenge near on December, 2015. MATT CARDY VIA GETTY IMAGES

The December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and this year it falls on Wednesday, December 21 at 5:44 EST.

In ancient Pagan traditions, the winter solstice was a time to honor the cycles of life and death and celebrate the sun’s rebirth as the days would slowly begin to lengthen in the months leading into spring. Many modern practitioners of Pagan and earth-centered spiritual traditions observe the holiday, and at Stonehenge, the celebration is particularly special.

Stonehenge, which celebrates its 30th year as a World Heritage site this year, is believed to be roughly 4,500 years old. Its significance as a link to British prehistory has drawn countless visitors over the years who come to gaze upon what’s considered to be the most architecturally advanced, prehistoric stone circle on the globe.

Apart from its architectural significance, Stonehenge holds a place of sacred importance to many. Much of its history is still shrouded in mystery, though one thing that’s sure is that it was built upon a landscape that had long been used for religious purposes. The stones that make up the massive circle are thought to have been collected from distant places, some as far as 150 miles away, and brought to this particular location. They were then erected using sophisticated, interlocking joints ― but how exactly the builders accomplished these feats is unclear.

It’s also unclear what exact purpose the site served to those who built it. English Heritage, a UK-based charity, notes that speculations on Stonehenge’s original function include “a coronation place for Danish kings, a Druid temple, an astronomical computer for predicting eclipses and solar events, a place where ancestors were worshipped or a cult centre for healing.”

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Rollo Maughfling, Archdruid of Stonehenge & Britain, conducts a winter solstice ceremony at Stonehenge on December 22, 2015 in Wiltshire, England. MATT CARDY VIA GETTY IMAGES

Whatever its intended purpose, Stonehenge remains a place of wonder for thousands who visit the awe-inspiring structure every year. And its significance is especially potent at the winter solstice.

“One of the most important and well-known features of Stonehenge is its alignment on the midwinter sunset-midsummer sunrise solstitial axis,” a spokesman for England Heritage told BBC. “The midwinter sun sets between the two upright stones of the great trilithon.”

In other words, on the two annual solstices ― summer and winter ― the sun respectively rises and sets in perfect alignment with the site’s massive stones.

To witness the astronomical event, visitors typically arrive early in the morning on the day of the solstice to watch the sunrise and stay through to the sunset. Local Druids host a ceremony during the day, as revelers and tourists alike bask in Stonehenge’s ancient atmosphere.

“What we’re really here for is to celebrate the fact that the cycle of the world turns, and from now on the days get longer and it’s the return of the sun,” Druid leader and activist King Arthur Pendragon told BBC at the Stonehenge winter solstice celebration in 2014. “It’s a time of change and hope is renewed ― the same message really from a pagan perspective as from a Christian perspective. That’s what this season is all about ― a message of hope.”

Article source: Antonia Blumberg  Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Open Access Arrangements

Please visit the official English Heritage website for full details.

Solstice Events are offering their usual  Stonehenge Winter Solstice guided tour from London and Bath.

 

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Stargazing in June: From the Stonehenge summer solstice to a cosmic embrace

1 06 2015
Two of our solar system’s most sensational planets will get together for a tryst

Two of our solar system’s most sensational planets will get together for a tryst

Let’s start by winnowing out the mythical chaff from the factual wheat. The Druids didn’t build Stonehenge; they came on the scene about 2,000 years later, and – according to the Roman writer Pliny – they didn’t worship in stone temples but in ‘‘forests of oak’’.

It was only in the 7th century that the antiquarian John Aubrey associated the Druids with Stonehenge. In 1740, a fellow neo-Druid called William Stukeley measured Stonehenge, and realised that its central line pointed ‘‘full northeast, being the point where the sun rises at the summer solstice’’. At that point, the link between Stonehenge, the Druids and the midsummer sunrise was set in tablets of stone.

But hang on. Instead of standing in the centre of the great stone circle and looking outwards, you could equally well place yourself at the Heel Stone and look through the centre of Stonehenge, towards the south-east. That’s the direction where the Sun sets, at midwinter.

In fact, Stukeley’s original account describes this bearing, with ‘‘the principal diameter or groundline of Stonehenge, leading from the entrance up to the middle of the temple to the high altar’’. So why did he choose the opposite direction as being critical to the Druids?

Stukeley was a Freemason. For Masons, the western part of the sky is the direction of death. The north-east is spiritually all-important because it is the point where the Sun rises on the feast of St John (the traditional Christian date for midsummer, on 24 June).

That’s why Stukeley picked out midsummer as the key season for Stonehenge. There’s no reason, though, to believe that our distant ancestors felt the same way. In fact, there are two great monuments in the British Isles which are unambiguous markers for the solstice, because they contain deep passageways that are lit up by Sun only once a year. In the case of Newgrange in Ireland and Maeshowe in Orkney, that date is the winter solstice..

Now archaeologists have provided the clinching evidence that Stonehenge, too, was erected to mark midwinter’s day. Mike Parker Pearson has excavated Durrington Walls, a huge settlement near Stonehenge. Here he’s found the remains of orgiastic feasts: bones of cows and pigs that had been brought vast distances – some from Cornwall, and others from the far north. Clearly, people came from all over the country to hold ceremonies at Stonehenge.

And the bones reveal the season that they travelled. The growth of the pigs’ teeth, and the amount they had worn, showed that they had been slaughtered for the table at the age of nine months. Given that piglets are naturally born in the spring, Parker Pearson is adamant that people were ‘‘feasting on pork at midwinter  most likely around the midwinter solstice’’.

So, if you want to truly celebrate as our ancestors did, don’t go to Wiltshire this month. Instead, go to Stonehenge on 22 December, to view the sun setting behind the giant portals of stone.

What’s Up

This month, two of our solar system’s most sensational planets are about to get together for a tryst. For the whole of spring, luminous giant Jupiter has been lighting up our evening skies. But dazzling Venus – Earth’s twin in size – has been sneaking up in the opposite part of the sky. Our neighbour world, cloaked in a dense atmosphere of carbon dioxide, reflects sunlight amazingly: it is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon.

On 30 June, the two brilliant worlds tangle in a cosmic embrace. Separated by a space less than the diameter of the moon, Jupiter and  Venus will make a stunning sight low in the western sky. Otherwise, the summer constellations are making their appearance. Orange Arcturus, in Boötes, lords it over the night skies. Next to it, the small-but-perfectly-formed Corona Borealis – the Northern Crown – is a beautiful reminder that warmer days are on the way.

What to look out for

1 June: 5.19 pm: full moon

6 June: Venus at greatest eastern elongation

9 June 4.42 pm: moon at last quarter

16 June 3.05 pm: new moon

24 June 12.03 pm: moon at first quarter; Mercury at greatest western elongation

30 June: Venus and Jupiter close conjunction

Read the full story in the Independent. Heather Couper , Nigel Henbest

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Stonehenge Winter Solstice Managed Open Access 2013

14 11 2013

The celebration of the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge will take place at sunrise on Saturday 21 December 2013 (approximately 08:09 hrs).

English Heritage is pleased to be offering ‘Managed Open Access’ for those who wish to celebrate the Winter Solstice peacefully

Visitors will be allowed into the Monument when it is considered sufficiently light to ensure safe Stonehenge Winter Solsticeaccess. Entry will be available from approximately 07:30 hrs until 09:00 hrs when visitors will be asked to vacate the site. All vehicles must vacate the area by 09.30.

Access might not be possible if the ground conditions are poor or if it is felt that access might result ¡n severe damage to the Monument.

Toilets are available at Stonehenge for the duration of the access although these facilities will not be available prior to access commencing.

Public car parking will be made available on Byway 12, the old Visitor Centre Car Park and along the A344.

Disabled parking will be in the old Visitor Centre Car Park, and will require a special permit.

TRANSPORT FROM LONDON: Our friends at Solstice UK events are offering their usual transport from London and can be booked here: http://www.stonehengetours.com/html/stonehenge-winter-solstice-tour.htm(mention us for a £20 discount)

New theory of a Winter Solstice Sunrise Alignment – Stonehenge and the Winter Solstice leaflet (ISBN 9780957093010)
(Background on the Winter Solstice Sunrise Alignment theory is here)

Follow Stonehenge on Twitter for Solstice updates and Stonehenge news:

Merlin @ Stonehenge
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A Pilgrim’s Guide to Stonehenge. The Winter Solstice Celebrations, Summer Solstice and Equinox Dawn Gatherings

13 12 2012

The Winter Solstice Celebrations, Summer Solstice and Equinox Dawn Gatherings

‘The Pilgrims Guide to Stonehenge‘ has been developed as a guide for anyone wanting to visit Stonehenge during the four annual times of Managed Open Access, the summer solstice celebrations, winter solstice and equinox dawn gatherings. Its aim is to provide information for anyone wanting to know more about what goes on and how the quality of the experience can be enhanced through ritual and understanding. As a result, this book focuses on ideas, suggestions and information about what to expect. This pilgrim’s guide has been clearly designed to help the modern visitor to become more of a proactive participant. Apart from wandering freely amongst the stones, much of the information can also be applied to the normal visiting times throughout the rest of the year. Also included is an overview of the historical context, a proposal to reveal the Altar Stone and an examination of how the summer solstice could potentially be developed in the future. Contains over seventy photographs and illustrations.

pilgrims-guide-stonehenge“The notion of people gathering together under their own terms is in some ways a lost art in Britain outside the confines of major sporting occasions, concerts, weekend shopping trips and nights out on the town. Major royal and civic events could also be added to this list. The festival scene however, has given more alternative gathering a real boost. The nature of celebration is to have a joyous time and it is interesting to note that the United Kingdom has amongst the least number of public holidays in Europe. We work increasingly long hours and stresses of modern living can take a toll on the body, as well as the mind. There is certainly a market for a successful summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge for people intending to free their spirits in a communal gathering at an age-old and identifiable site.”

A Pilgrims Guide to Stonehenge (book review)

 Its aim is to provide information for anyone wanting to know more about what goes on during Managed Open Access (Summer Solstice Celebrations, Winter Solstice and Equinox Dawn Gatherings) and how the quality of the experience can be enhanced through ritual and understanding. Much of the information can also be applied throughout the rest of the year. Includes photographs, illustrations, visitor information, ritual guide, historical context, solstice chart and discussion on the future.

This has come from Jim Raynor’s experience of having attended MOA. He felt there was a need for a pilgrim’s guide that enabled the modern visitor to become more of a proactive participant. As a result, this book focuses on ideas, suggestions and information about what to expect. Apart from wandering freely amongst the stones, much of the information can also be applied to normal visiting times throughout the rest of the year. Also included is an overview of the historical context, a proposal to reveal the Altar Stone and an examination of how the summer solstice could potentially be developed in the future.

Search Amazon “Pilgrims-Guide-Stonehenge-Celebrations” to find and buy a copy.
Historical link: https://blog.stonehenge-stone-circle.co.uk/category/pilgrims-guide-to-stonehenge/

Merlin says” This book has been developed as a guide for the modern day Stonehenge pilgrim.”

Winter Solstice updates: Follow Stonhenge on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/ST0NEHENGE

Merlin @ Stonhenge





2nd Historic Stonehenge – Amesbury Lantern Procession along the original Avenue

22 11 2012

AMESBURY will be holding its second lantern parade on Friday, December 21st

Following the success of last year’s event, the parade has been organised to bring the community together before Christmas.

More than 500 people are to hold a procession from Stonehenge to Amesbury

More than 500 people are to hold a procession from Stonehenge to Amesbury

The 2nd Lantern Parade from Stonehenge to Amesbury will take place on Friday 21st December 2012 (not the 20th as we suggested earlier). This year’s route will be different to the one taken last year too. From the heel stone it will follow the original Avenue route to Kings Barrow Ridge, turning left on to the byways to join Countess Road (North) at the junction with Byway 9a & 37 and then following the footpath in to Amesbury to the Methodist Church.

Tickets cost £5 including bus travel from Amesbury to Stonehenge and a lantern, which can be decorated, with a prize for the best one.

If people already have a lantern they can take it along and buy a bus ticket for £2

There will be no parking at Stonehenge for the event and refreshments will be available after the procession, which starts at 4pm.

More information and tickets are available from the Bowman Centre or the Amesbury Community and Visitor Centre, call Alice Membery on             01980 622999       or emaildeputyclerk@amesburytc.org.uk.

More about the Lantern Parade

The parade, along the original processional route of the avenue, is believed to have been started centuries ago when the ancient monument was first built.

“We’ve just discovered that life began in Amesbury as early as 8,250 years ago with a settlement by the River Avon,” said Mr Rhind-Tutt.

Sun sets
“And the processional route would have been the route that led people from Amesbury to Stonehenge.”

During the winter solstice the sun is closer to the horizon than at any other time in the year, meaning shorter days and longer nights.

And the recreation of the procession has been timed to leave Stonehenge as the sun sets on the eve of the longest night of the year.

“It’s about a mile-and-a-half but it isn’t like walking down a road,” said Mr Rhind-Tutt.

“In daylight you can do it an hour – in the dark it may take up to two hours but it’s proving extremely popular and we’ve even got a stilt walker signed up.”

Link Source:
 http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-16284687
https://heritageaction.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/stonehenge-this-years-lantern-procession-details/

Stonehenge news blog sponsored by ‘Stonehenge Guided Tours’  www.StonehenegTours.com

Merlin says “It was a fantastic experience last year and I look forward to the procession this Solstice”

Merlin @ Stonehenge








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