The Sun Stones: The Story of the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge

20 12 2020

It was dark, darker than Glynneth could remember. In all of her eleven years she hadn’t known a night like it. It seemed to go on forever. She pondered this as she sat hunched nursing the small fire, huddled in her hand-me-down cloak that always dragged in the mud when she collected kindling or got caught on brambles during the berry moon. With a stick she nudged the unburnt section of log closer to the flames. The embers stirred, glowing and spitting sparks up into the vast night sky, where the gods sat gathered around their own fires.

As a sudden icy gust whipped the flames, Glynneth shuddered and tried to shut out its freezing touch, as cold as her baby brother’s toes as he wriggled into the bed they were humiliatingly forced to share, top-to-toe, within the family hut. He always tried to snuggle close, to steal her warmth – and no matter how she shoved him back she’d always awake to find him curled around her like a dog. Yet even their hound stank less than him at times.

Still, they were family. And as her mother always told her – they had to look after each other. It was a big, hard world out there – and nobody beyond your tribe would give a cowpat about you.

They all irritated her at times, but life was so frail – like the flames she nursed on the longest night of the year – as they all knew. Everyday they were reminded by their father how lucky they were to survive; how lucky they were to still have their mother who recovered from bringing them into this world. There were many families in the tribe who weren’t so lucky.

Yet ‘lucky’ was relative – as their father also reminded them. As it meant more mouths to feed, more chores to do. They all had to pull their weight.

And so Glynneth found herself tending one of the watch-fires burning that night. She could see them like a constellation, glowing in the dark across the stark winter landscape – grass and scrub glittering with a hard frost. And dominating the plain – the Sun Stones. Their negative presence – a deeper darkness against the night – unmistakable.

There, the priests gathered to perform their secret rites. She could hear the throb of their deer-skin drums. They would be at it all night, building to a crescendo by dawn.

Before sunrise she and the other watchers would take a burning brand and process into the stern presence of the stones, crossing over the white ring of chalk into the sacred place. There they would dowse their flames in the frost and greet the rekindled sun.

This is the first time Glynneth has been allowed to tend a watch-fire by herself. It was drummed into her what a great responsibility it was, lighting the way – collectively creating an avenue of golden light to guide the power of the reborn sun into the crucible of the stones, channelling its life-saving energy into the land. Once again tribes from far and wide had gathered.

Once again Glynneth was unnerved by their strange accents and impenetrable tongues. But for the first time she had noticed a boy from one of the seafaring tribes who had travelled down from some remote island in the unimaginable north – a boy with an unruly shock of black hair from beneath which glinted eyes of sky smiling at her as he too prepared his watchfire in the gathering gloom of the previous afternoon. She could not see him now, beyond the small star of his fire, but the memory of that smile made her cheeks burn.

Was he looking across to her fire at that moment? And what was he thinking? What strange land had he come from? And would his lips taste of the sea? She blushed at the thought, and quickly doused such nonsense. She had a job to do!

Impatiently, she poked at the fire – wishing the endless night would end, and she could join in the great dance that always followed the sun’s rebirth. Maybe then she would start to feel warm again.

And maybe she would even bump into the boy.

Every year new fires were made from the stray embers of the old – friendships, marriages, alliances … interlocking like the sun stones, becoming stronger together. Over the next three days there would be much feasting and oath-taking. News of the year would be shared – wry assessments of good or bad seasons, skirmishes and feuds, over a few too many horns of mead or ale. And with sore heads, full bellies, and promises pledged, the tribes would make their farewells and begin their long trek home, scattering to the obscurest groves, vales, and coves of the land.

And with each new sunrise, the sun will linger a little bit longer in the sky and life will slowly return to the slumbering earth.

Glynneth rubbed her arms and exhaled a frozen cloud of breath. That time could not come soon enough, but for now … she could swear that the sky was starting to get a fraction brighter. Now she was able to start making out the lay of the land – the long line of the Avenue, sweeping down to the slowly winding river. The watchfires still glowed, but it would not be long before their light would be overwhelmed by the rekindled sun. She could see the figures huddled over them, blowing on hands, or stretching and stamping feet.

And opposite her, on the other side of the flickering divide of parallel fires, the eyes of a dark boy from a distant isle shone.

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

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Links:
The Rebirth of the Sun: the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Watch the winter solstice LIVEfrom Stonehenge, wherever you are in the world! ENGLISH HERITAGE FACEBOOK
Winter Solstice: Wild tales of slaughtered bulls, human sacrifice and much merriment – THE SCOTSMAN
Winter solstice: Why do pagans celebrate the shortest day of the year? THE TELEGRAPH
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
What has Stonehenge got to do with the winter solstice? – METRO NEWS
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
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Tours – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News
http://www.Stonehenge.News





Stonehenge Summer Solstice Celebrations 2020. Watch the summer solstice LIVE from Stonehenge, wherever you are in the world!

13 06 2020

Every year on the 21 June, the rising midsummer sun and Stonehenge’s ancient monoliths combine to create one of the world’s most fundamental and bewitchingly beautiful natural light shows. 

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As dawn rises on the year’s longest day, the age-old stones, transported hundreds of miles and precisely arranged by our ancestors, refract the primal light of the sun in the northeast to render a spectacle which has entranced humanity for centuries.

No pandemic can halt the rays of the splendid sun or topple these arcane stones and the lights will once more enact their yearly dance. And despite restricted physical access to the stones, this year’s summer solstice will still be available to watch via streaming – the first time in its great history.

Stonehenge Summer Solstice live stream 2020

Watch the summer solstice LIVE from Stonehenge, wherever you are in the world! Official English Heritage Livestream

The Solstice and Stonehenge

The summer solstice takes place when one of the Earth’s poles is at its greatest tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice per year, once in each hemisphere. Every year on these occasions, the sun seems to pause in the sky, taking a break from its primordial journey to bask us in its warmth. Our prehistoric ancestors were keen astronomers and Stonehenge, combined with the summer solstice go a great way to substantiate this. Stonehenge, ever since its construction, has been carefully aligned on a sight-line that points to the summer solstice sunset. Every year humanity lays witness to our ancestors’ ingenuity and  the stones appear purpose built for the crystallizing moment of the midsummer sunrise. 

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Our ancestors, both distant and recent, have come together on the summer solstice, to both celebrate the beauty of nature and the world heritage sites’ rich celebratory tradition. Ancients believed the summer solstice was a time to celebrate the balance of nature, as day defeated night and the height of summer and people rejoiced in the warmth and bounty of summertime.These traditions are still honoured to this day as all people are treated equal under the light of the solstice sun. The festival was once named Litha (in the language of the Wicca)

The perceived suspension of the sun imbued light and energy into the ancients’ rituals and that energy has been retained to this day. The celebrations at the stones are one of the most popular solstice celebrations in the world. 

This year, thousands of visitors will not be able to descend on the Stones. Instead, the Stones and the wildlife surrounding them have had a chance to recharge, whilst we can all still watch the incredible sunrise and keep communities safe from the COVID-19 outbreak. The English Heritage organisation is presenting a livestream version of the celebrations, streaming the sunrise on Sunday morning GMT on 21 June across its social media channels. 

Nichola Tasker, director of Stonehenge said he and the rest of English heritage ‘hope that our live stream offers an alternative opportunity for people near and far to connect with this spiritual place at such a special time of year and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year’

Although times are hard, Stonehenge continues to create excitement and history, and at this time of year it creates one of the  world’s most brilliant natural light shows. English Heritage cameras will capture the best views of Stonehenge, allowing you to connect with this spiritual place from the comfort of your own home.

WHAT TIME IS SUNRISE/SUNSET ON THE SOLSICE? 

The sunset is at 21:26 BST (20:26 GMT) on Saturday 20th June. The sunrise is at 04:52 BST (03:52 GMT) on Sunday 21st June.

More Virtual Summer Solstice Events:
Stonehenge Solstice Festival – Raising money to support the NHS in these troubled times.
Virtual Stonehenge Summer Solstice Ceremony
Glastonbury Virtual Summer Solstice. Hosted by Glastonbury Information Centre
Virtual Stonehenge 2020 Festival  www.stonehenge2020.com
The Glastonbury Festival Experience

Stonehenge Summer Solstice Links:
Stonehenge will be closed during the summer solstice for the first time in decades – THE TELEGRAPH
Avebury closed for Summer Solstice 2020 – NATIONAL TRUST
‘Please don’t travel’ to Stonehenge warning ahead of summer solstice – SOMERSET LIVE
Stonehenge will livestream the sunrise during the summer solstice on June 21 so pagans and travellers in lockdown don’t miss out on the spectacle – THE DAILY MAIL
Summer solstice at Stonehenge to be broadcast live – how to watch – THE BRISTOL POST
The Stonehenge Pilgrims – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge with no crowds? Big changes planned for reopening – THE GUARDIAN
A Pilgrim’s Guide to Stonehenge. The Winter Solstice Celebrations, Summer Solstice and Equinox Dawn Gatherings – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Solstice Photographs on FLICKR
Stonehenge Solstice live video footage on PERISCOPE
Stonehenge may have been pilgrimage site for sick – REUTERS
Background to the Stonehenge Solstice Celebrations – STONEHENGE NEWS
Stonehenge Solstice and Equinox Tours – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
Tour Operator offering exclusive Stonehenge Tours – SOLSTICE EVENTS
Virtual Tour of the Stones – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Virtual Tour: Inside the Stones  – ENGLISH HERITAGE WEBSITE

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge Summer Solstice News
http://www.Stonehenge.News





2020 Summer Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge have been cancelled because of the ban on mass gatherings prompted by the coronavirus.

13 05 2020

English Heritage said it was cancelling the event “for the safety and wellbeing of attendees, volunteers and staff”.

Summer solstice is the longest day of the year

Summer solstice is the longest day of the year

Traditionally about 10,000 people have gathered at the Neolithic monument in Wiltshire, on or around 21st June, to mark midsummer.

The summer solstice is one of the rare occasions that English Heritage normally opens up the stones for public access.

On the summer solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone, the ancient entrance to the Stone Circle, and rays of sunlight are channelled into the centre of the monument.

English Heritage said it had consulted with the emergency services and the druid and pagan community, among others, before making the decision.

Stonehenge Director Nichola Tasker said:

“We are very sorry to be the bearers of this news today. Given the sheer number of major events worldwide which have already been cancelled across the summer, from Glastonbury to the Olympics to Oktoberfest, I doubt this will come as a huge surprise, but we know how much summer solstice at Stonehenge means to so many people.

We have consulted widely on whether we could have proceeded safely and we would have dearly liked to host the event as per usual, but sadly in the end, we feel we have no choice but to cancel.”

Senior druid King Arthur Pendragon said it was disappointing but unsurprising.

Visitors at most other times of the year are usually kept at least 5m away from the ancient sarsen stones and bluestones. Stonehenge special access tours do allow you to enter the inner circle before or after the monument is officially open

You can stream this year’s summer solstice live from Stonehenge and we will provide the link on this website soon.

RELEVANT SOLSTICE LINKS:

Coronavirus: Stonehenge summer solstice gathering cancelled – BBC NEWS
Summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge CANCELLED – SPIRE FM
A Pilgrim’s Guide to Stonehenge. The Winter Solstice Celebrations, Summer Solstice and Equinox Dawn Gatherings – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge may have been pilgrimage site for sick – REUTERS
Background to the Stonehenge Solstice Celebrations – THE STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Solstice and Equinox Tours – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
The Stonehenge Pilgrims – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge and Solstice News
http://www.Stonehenge.News

 





The Stonehenge Pilgrims

1 05 2020

Since our Neolithic ancestors erected Stonehenge thousands of years ago and exulted in its majesty, people have continued to gather at the hallowed stones. Centuries worth of pilgrimage and spiritual congregation have continued to endow the monument with meaning. All visitors, pilgrims and revellers connect with our ancestors and with the enigmatic and arcane origins of the stones, and ultimately give Stonehenge its primal energy and continuity that any visitor enjoys today.  In this piece, I wanted to examine the history of the pilgrimage associated with the monoliths and how the people who visit and celebrate in the presence of the stones are so important to its continued vitality.

A pilgrimage is ‘a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about the self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience.’  The aim of pilgrimage is spiritual growth, enlightenment or even epiphany (the ancient Greek term for encountering and learning from a god) – the aim is to be overawed by something greater than yourself. For over a millennium, the monoliths of Stonehenge have held enough power to be a continued inspirer of pilgrimage.

Many believe that Stonehenge had religious significance for our ancestors who built it, and many would have made the journey to the stones from far and wide, to witness the grandest monument in existence at the time. It could even be said that the stones themselves and the people who carried them made the greatest pilgrimage of all – the blue stones travelling an astonishing 160 miles from south Wales. The point being, that through its dedicated construction, Stonehenge became a spiritual hub, drawing together people and connecting them with one another. Archaeological digs have uncovered evidence of ritualistic slaughter and feasting in and around the landscape of Stonehenge, dating back to the time of construction. Research at the University of Sheffield has even suggested that the specific dates for the feasting, pinpointing Midwinter celebrations. This proves that celebration and community have always been at the heart of Stonehenge.

Today, in our heady modern lives, which are so absorbed by technology, which purports to bring us together but leaves us more isolated than ever, we are more in need of pilgrimage than ever, for renewal, vitality and peace. To this day, Stonehenge plays hosts to gatherings of thousands of pilgrims and recreates the spiritual gathering of the past; gathering to celebrate the modern-day summer and winter solstices.  For centuries the stones fell out of public ownership and the arcane rituals of the past seemed lost for good. However, the Stones were given to the nation in 1918 and the festival scene has returned to Stonehenge over the last century, giving a home to the most spiritual gatherings and modern-day pilgrims. The summer Solstice is especially popular, the nature of which is joyous and brings together people from all walks of life, including: Druids, wiccans, witches, pagans, tourists, astronomers, locals and revellers of all descriptions. In a country with comparatively few national holidays, a celebration with such deep-rooted history as well as joy, is as cleansing as it is necessary, one of the greatest modern festivals.

The true power of the modern celebrations at Stonehenge lay in their connectivity. Not only do todays pilgrims disengage from modern life and connect with their fellow man – but they connect to our ancestors, across the centuries, preserving their memory and continuing to bestow the monument we all cherish with renewed energy for generations to come.

RELEVANT LINKS:

A Pilgrim’s Guide to Stonehenge. The Winter Solstice Celebrations, Summer Solstice and Equinox Dawn Gatherings – STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge may have been pilgrimage site for sick – REUTERS
The Great Stones Way. This pilgrimage links the North Wessex Downs to Salisbury Plain, across the Vale of Pewsey – connecting us with our deep, prehistoric past. – THE BRITISH PILGRIMAGE TRUST
Go on a Pilgrimage. Feed mind, body and spirit with a pilgrimage along these 10 historic trails – ENGLISH HERITAGE
Background to the Stonehenge Solstice Celebrations – THE STONEHENGE NEWS BLOG
Stonehenge Solstice and Equinox Tours. Join the megalithic experts for a magical sunrise tour at the annual access gatherings. – STONEHENGE GUIDED TOURS
A Huge ‘Highway’ of Roads and Rivers Brought Stones and Pilgrims to Build Stonehenge – MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News
http://www.Stonehenge.News

 





Stonehenge Spring (Vernal) Equinox 20th March 2020

14 03 2020

The Spring, or Vernal, Equinox is the point at which the sun crosses the equator, returning to the northern hemisphere, the point when day and night are at equal length.  The exact time of the 2020 Spring (Vernal) Equinox is at 03.49am

Stonehenge Vernal Equinox

As the sun returns, bringing with it the prospect of spring and all its light and warmth, where better to witness this celestial dance then amongst the essential beauty of the world’s most famous megaliths.

English Heritage are expected to give a short period of managed open access from approximately 05.45m to 8.00am. Due to the current climate concerning coronavirus we recommend checking the English Heritage website for any updates.

Spring equinox 2020

This is the first of the four ‘sky points’ in our Wheel of the Year and it is when the sun does a perfect balancing act in the heavens. This is the point of the year when once again day and night are equal – 12 hours. The equinox, (the Latin word for Equinox means time of equal days and nights) is only the very moment the sun crosses the equator.

The return of the sun and the promise of spring has always been a cause for celebration.

At the North Pole the sun will blaze for the next 6 months, here the days will elongate. Across the northern hemisphere, across the centuries, our ancestors have rejoiced in celebration at the end of winter. Globally, it is a time of unity between the northern and southern hemispheres as our days hang in perfect balance with one another. Stonehenge’s connection with the stars has ensured it as a hub for equinox celebrations and to this day the celebrations continue.

The time is for the instant when the Sun crosses the celestial equator moving northwards and has a celestial longitude of 0°

For the ancients, as well as today the celebrations welcomed the spring and the end of a harsh winter; this was the time when crops were resewn and the people celebrated the triumph of light over dark, of life over death. The celebrations have always been full of hope and joy – it is even foretold that as the wind and the weather are at the vernal equinox, so they will be for the next few months.

Public access to Stonehenge currently takes place on four of the so-called ‘quarter festivals’. What exactly are the quarter festivals? And why are these occasions so celebrated by the Druids? The Quarter Festivals and the Druids

Stonehenge and the Druids – who are the Druids?

Visiting Stonehenge this year for the Spring Equinox Celebrations? RESPECT THE STONES

English Heritage –  conditions of entry for ‘Managed Open Access’

If you are considering visiting Stonehenge for the Vernal Equinox and do not have transport you can join a specialist organised small group tour.  Use a reputable tour operator who respect the conditions of entry.  Stonehenge Guided Tours are the longest established company offering award winning discreet tours from London and Bath – click here for their exclusive Spring Equinox tour.  Solstice Events offer small group sunrise tours using local expert guides.

If you are unable to visit Stonehenge on the Equinox you can watch our FACEBOOK or  LIVE PERISCOPE STONEHENGE BROADCAST

The Stonehenge News Blog
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest Stonehenge News
http://www.Stonehenge.News





Stonehenge Winter Solstice Open Access Arrangements 2019

7 12 2019

Winter Solstice Open Access: Everything you need to know

On December 22nd 2019, to celebrate the winter solstice, Stonehenge’s inner circle is open to the public for one of only four times a year! The Stones were originally constructed in conjunction with the solar calendar – there could hardly be a more important time to be at the ancient landmark. Today, visitors from all over the world congregate to enjoy the event and English heritages policy of open access allows everyone, for this very special occasion, into the inner circle of Stonehenge, to enjoy the sunrise and interact with the monument. To ensure you have the best experience possible, we have collated all the vital information about this year’s event:

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English Heritage is looking forward to welcoming people to Stonehenge to celebrate Winter Solstice on Sunday 22nd December.  Visitors will be able to access the monument as soon as it is light enough to do so safely.  Please read the information below before planning your visit. Please visit the English Heritage website for further details

  • DATE AND TIMES

Sunday 22nd December 2019

Stonehenge Respect

RESPECT THE STONES AND EACH OTHER! Click here

The following timings are subject to change. Please do check back nearer the time for the confirmed schedule.

6am: Limited car parking opens
7.45am (approximately depending on light levels): Monument field opens
8.11am: Sunrise
10am: Monument field closes 

Please Note: Due to a ‘Temporary Traffic Restriction Order’ (TTRO) By-ways 11 and 12 will be closed over the Solstice period (18th -23rd December) 

What is the solstice?

Throughout the winter solstice, the earth’s axis is tilted at its furthest point from the sun. In the UK, the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. It is both the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Visitors gather to see the sunrise above the stones – an event celebrated at this time of year for thousands of years, there could hardly be a more ideal time to be amidst the sacred monoliths. Entry is completely free!

When Exactly is the Solstice?

The exact time of the Solstice on the 22nd December is 4.19 am. Open access begins at 7:45am and ends at 10:00am. This should give you plenty of time to enjoy the sunrise, appreciate the stones and meet some interesting new people, speaking of which…

Who celebrates the Solstice?

Anyone is welcome to celebrate the winter solstice and as a result it always draws a diverse and friendly crowd. It is an important spiritual occasion for some groups – so you can join a congregation of today’s druid community, including neo-druids, neo-pagans and wiccans – as well as sightseers from all over the globe.

How do you get to the Solstice?

It is possible to drive yourself to the Stones, parking costs £5 or £2 for motorbikes (Stonehenge’s postcode is SP4 7DE for your sat-nav). However, there is no guarantee – once the car park is full there is very little you will be able to do. Luckily, Salisbury Reds is running shuttle bus service, which could relieve you of a potential parking nightmare. The 333 service will run between 6.00am and 6.50am from Salisbury New Canal– with buses returning from Stonehenge between 9.15am and 10.15 am.

The service will also stop at Salisbury Railway Station and Salisbury Street in Amesbury.

Special buses planned for Stonehenge during Winter Solstice – CLICK HERE

PLANNING YOUR JOURNEY

Parking for Winter Solstice is very limited and we cannot guarantee that there will be space in the two Winter Solstice car parks. We strongly recommend car sharing or using public transport.

  • Travel by Bus – Salisbury Reds buses will be running from 6am from Salisbury via Amesbury.

    Organised Tours – If you are considering visiting Stonehenge for the Solstice celebrations you can join an organised tour.  Use a reputable tour operator who respect the conditions.  Stonehenge Guided Tours are the longest established company and offer guided tours and transport from London. Solstice Events offer small group Winter  Solstice Tours from Bath using local expert guides.

What should you bring to the Solstice?

The most important thing to remember is that it will likely be very cold and potentially wet! Warm clothing and sensible footwear, a pair of wellies for instance, are essential, last years solstice reached lows of 5 degrees C. Glass, drones, tents and pets (with the exception of guide dogs) are all strictly prohibited.

Ultimately, there really isn’t much you need to bring to enjoy this special occasion – a sense of adventure, a smile and a warm jacket will ensure that you have a wonderful experience. And so for all those venturing to Wiltshire’s finest historical site for this magical, midwinter day, I wish you all the very best!

Access to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice is free and is subject to the Conditions of Entry. Please read these before deciding whether to attend.  Stonehenge is in a field on Salisbury Plain and the weather in December will be cold and wet.  Even if it isn’t raining, the ground will be wet from the dew and there may also be frost. Sensible footwear and warm, waterproof clothing is essential. Please note, parking charges apply

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Links:
What has Stonehenge got to do with the winter solstice? click here
Celebrate Winter Solstice at Stonehenge – Click here
Stonehenge, the Winter Solstice, and the Druids – Click here
Winter solstice 2020: Why do pagans celebrate the shortest day of the year? click here
Special buses planned for Stonehenge during Winter Solstice – CLICK HERE
Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access – Click here
Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present. – click here
English Heritage Conditions of Entry – click here

Please help us to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines

For traffic, weather and other updates on the morning of the winter solstice, Follow @St0nehenge @EH_Stonehenge @VisitStonehenge @HighwaysEngland @VisitWiltshire @DruidKingArthur @Wiltshirepolice for #WinterSolstice2019

If you are unable to visit Stonehenge on the Solstice you can watch our LIVE PERISCOPE STONEHENGE BROADCAST

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





Stonehenge Autumn Equinox Open Access Arrangements: 23rd September 2019

8 09 2019

THE Autumn Equinox is rapidly approaching as the last days of summer slowly come to an end. English Heritage are expected to offer a short period of access, from first light or safe enough to enter the monument field (approximately 06.30am) until 08:30am on the 23rd September this year.

The Autumn Equinox (Mabon)
The 2019 Autumn Equinox is at 08.50 GMT on the September 23rd
Sunrise will be 6.55am

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Mabon is a harvest festival, the second of three, that encourages pagans to “reap what they sow,” both literally and figuratively. It is the time when night and day stand equal in duration; thus is it a time to express gratitude, complete projects and honor a moment of balance.

IMG_20190716_103103_985

What is the Equinox?

The equinox is when day and night are actually the same length. It happens several days before the spring equinox, and a few days after the autumn one.

The reason day and night are only almost equal on the equinox is because the sun looks like a disk in the sky, so the top half rises above the horizon before the centre, according to the Met Office.

The Earth’s atmosphere also refracts the sunlight, so it seems to rise before its centre reaches the horizon. This causes the sun to provide more daylight than many people might expect, offering 12 hours and 10 minutes on the equinox.

The word ‘equinox’ itself actually mean ‘equal’ (equi) and ‘night’ (nox).

Respecting the Stones
The conditions of entry for the Managed Open Access.  Click here

If you are considering visiting Stonehenge for the Autumn Equinox and do not have transport you can join a specialist organised small group tour.  Use a reputable tour operator who respect the conditions of entry.  Stonehenge Guided Tours are the longest established company offering award winning discreet tours from London and Bath – click here for their exclusive Autumn Equinox tour. Solstice Events offer small group sunrise tours using only local expert guides.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for Equinox updates and Stonehenge news
The Stonehenge News Blog





Hundreds of pagans and druids descend on Stonehenge to celebrate the 2019 Spring (Vernal) Equinox.

21 03 2019

Visitors headed to the famous 5,000-year-old stone circle in Wiltshire in the dark to ensure they got to see the sun rise. And they made the most of one of only four public annual events that allows people to get so close to the stones.


Big event: The equinox happens twice a year around March 20th and September 22nd, between the summer and winter solstices. On the equinox, day and night are nearly equal because the sun appears to rise before its centre is at the horizon

WHY CAN PAGANS AND DRUIDS GET SO CLOSE TO THE STONES FOR THE EQUINOX?

The famous Stonehenge circle is normally roped off to the public, but special access is granted four times a year.

This is only on the mornings of the summer solstice, winter solstice, spring equinox and autumn equinox.

English Heritage has ‘managed open access’, meaning the public can stand among the stones on these days.

Anyone can turn up on the day to get close to the stones, but people are asked not to touch or climb on them.

Organisers also have a ban on bringing glass bottles or pets onto the site and on playing amplified music.

Today Stonehenge was opened at 5.45am when it was deemed light enough to safely allow people into the field.

Visitors began to leave at 8.30am and then the area was opened to the paying public as normal at 9.30am

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Stonehenge Spring (Vernal) Equinox Open Access: 21st March 2019

20 03 2019

The exact time of the 2019 Spring (Vernal) Equinox is 09.58pm

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English Heritage are expected to give a short period of managed open access from approximately 05.45m to 8.00am.
Sunrise on the March 21st is at 6.11am. A rare supermoon is set to stage a nocturnal spectacular in what will be the third and final occurrence of the phenomenon in 2019. On Wednesday and Thursday, the full moon will be closer to Earth, and so brighter than it usually appears.

This is the second of the four ‘sky points’ in our Wheel of the Year and it is when the sun does a perfect balancing act in the heavens.

At the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox the sun rises exactly in the east, travels through the sky for 12 hours and then sets exactly in the west. So all over the world, at this special moment, day and night are of equal length hence the word equinox which means ‘equal night’.

Of course, for those of us here in the northern hemisphere it is this equinox that brings us out of our winter.

For those in the southern hemisphere, this time is the autumnal equinox that isArthur Pendragon taking you in to your winter. And this is very much how I think of the equinoxes – as the ‘edges’ of winter. This is why they can be quite hard on our bodies as it is a major climatic shift, so it is a good time to give a boost to your immune system with natural remedies and cleansing foods.

Here in Wiltshire (as with the rest of rural Britain), it was traditional to drink dandelion and burdock cordials at this time as these herbs help to cleanse the blood and are a good tonic for the body after its winter hardships.

As the Vernal Equinox heralds the arrival of spring, it is a time of renewal in both nature and the home, so time for some spring-cleaning!

This is more than just a physical activity, it also helps to remove any old or negative energies accumulated over the dark, heavy winter months preparing the way for the positive growing energy of spring and summer.

As with all the other key festivals of the year, there are both Pagan and Christian associations with the Spring Equinox.To Pagans, this is the time of the ancient Saxon goddess, Eostre, who stands for new beginnings and fertility.

This is why she is symbolized by eggs (new life) and rabbits/hares (fertility).

Her name is also the root of the term we give to the female hormone, oestrogen.By now, you may be beginning to see the Christian celebration derived from this festival – Easter.

And this is the reason why the ‘Easter Bunny’ brings us coloured eggs (and if you’re lucky chocolate ones!) at this time of year.

So, as nature starts to sprout the seeds that have been gestating in her belly throughout the winter, maybe you can start to think about what you want to ‘sprout’ in your life now and start to take action.

Visiting Stonehenge this year for the Spring Equinox Celebrations? RESPECT THE STONES

If you are unable to visit Stonehenge on the Equinox you can watch our FACEBOOK or  LIVE PERISCOPE STONEHENGE BROADCAST

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Stonehenge Winter Solstice Open Access Arrangements 2018

1 12 2018

English Heritage will once again welcome people to Stonehenge to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Sunrise is just after 8am on Friday 22nd December and visitors will be able to access the monument as soon as it is light enough to do so safely. Please read the information below before planning your visit and visit the English Heritage website.  There will be a rare Full Moon on the Winter Solstice this year, the next occurrence will be in 2094

pendragon

Senior druid King Arthur Pendragon at Stonehenge. The winter solstice is considered more important than its summer counterpart as it marks the ‘re-birth’ of the sun

Access to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice is free and is subject to the Conditions of Entry. Please read these before deciding whether to attend.  Stonehenge is in a field on Salisbury Plain and the weather in December will be cold and wet.  Even if it isn’t raining, the ground will be wet from the dew and there may also be frost. Sensible footwear and warm, waterproof clothing is essential. Please note, parking charges apply.

DATE AND TIMES

Saturday 22nd December 2018

6am: Limited car parking opens

7.45am (approximately depending on light levels): Monument field opens

8.09am: Sunrise

10am: Monument field closes

CONDITIONS OF ENTRY

Stonehenge is an ancient prehistoric site which has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Winter Solstice for thousands of years and is seen by many as a sacred site.

English Heritage is pleased to provide free Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice and ask that if you are planning to join us for this peaceful and special occasion that you read these Conditions of Entry and the information provided on the following pages before deciding whether to come.

Admission to the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge is free of charge.

Please help us to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines.  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.

These Conditions of Entry are written to ensure enjoyment and public safety for everyone.  Contravention of any of these conditions may result in entry being refused or your removal from Stonehenge.  English Heritage reserves the right to refuse entry.

  • Stonehenge is a world renowned historic Monument and part of a World Heritage Site. It is seen by many who attend as a sacred place.  Please respect it and please respect each other.
  • Amplified Music is inappropriate and will not be permitted.
  • Drunken, disorderly, and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated; ejection, by security staff and/or Police, without return, will be the outcome.
  • Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • To help us reduce the amount of litter on site, leafleting or flyering is not allowed.
  • Camping, fires, Chinese lanterns, Fireworks, Candles, Tea-Lights or BBQs are NOT permitted at Stonehenge, in the parking areas, or anywhere in the surrounding National Trust land.
  • Do not bring drones or any type of remote-controlled aircraft to Stonehenge.  There is a No Fly Zone in place over Stonehenge during Winter Solstice which makes it a criminal offense to attempt to fly anything over the stones below a certain height. The No Fly Zone includes drones. If you attempt to fly a drone from anywhere on site, including the Solstice Car Park, you will be stopped and asked to leave.

For further information about Managed Open Access for Winter Solstice at Stonehenge, please call English Heritage Customer Services Solstice Hotline on 0370 333 1181.

PLANNING YOUR JOURNEY

Parking for Winter Solstice is very limited and we cannot guarantee that there will be space in the two Winter Solstice car parks. We strongly recommend car sharing or using public transport.

  • Travel by Bus – Salisbury Reds buses will be running from 6am from Salisbury via Amesbury.

    Organised Tours – If you are considering visiting Stonehenge for the Solstice celebrations you can join an organised tour.  Use a reputable tour operator who respect the conditions.  Stonehenge Guided Tours are the longest established company and offer guided tours and transport from London. Solstice Events offer small group Winter  Solstice Tours from Bath using local expert guides.

PARKING AND PARKING CHARGES

Limited parking is available in the Winter Solstice car parks, which will open at 6am on the 22 December.

Signs will direct you to the Solstice car parks – please ensure that you follow these.  If directed to parking away from the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, motorists will have access to Park & Ride transport to the Visitor Centre included in their parking charge.

We cannot guarantee entry to the car parks and recommend car sharing or coming by public transport as cars will be turned away when the car parks are full. Last year this happened at around 7am.  Please do not arrive early as there is no waiting on the roads in the area and you will be moved on.

  • £5 – General parking for cars, vans and live in vehicles
  • £2 – Motorbikes
  • £50 – Commercial minibuses (up to and including 16 seats)
  • £250 – Commercial coaches (17 seats and over). Commercial vehicles must pre-book via BookStonehenge@english-heritage.org.uk and terms and conditions apply.

Please note, car parking charges apply to all users of the Winter Solstice car parks, including Blue Badge holders, and members of English Heritage and National Trust.

The parking charge helps the charity cover the costs of providing additional staffing and lighting in the car parks and is designed to encourage people to car share or travel by bus.

Blue Badge parking

Parking for Blue Badge holders is available at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre Car Park. No pre-booking is required.  Visitors are asked to highlight their Blue Badge to stewards on arrival so that they can be directed to an appropriate parking space.

A shuttle will run from the Visitor Centre to the Monument and visitors with accessibility requirements will have priority.

COME PREPARED

  • Stonehenge is in a field on Salisbury Plain and the weather in December will be cold and wet. Even if it isn’t raining, the ground will be wet from the dew. There may also be frost. Sensible footwear and warm, waterproof clothing is essential.
  • There is at least a 30 minute walk in low light or darkness, from the Visitor Centre to Stonehenge itself.  You are strongly advised to wear strong, waterproof footwear, and to bring a torch with you.  A shuttle will run from the Visitor Centre to the Monument and visitors with accessibility requirements will hve priority.  All other visitors should be prepared to walk.
  • There are no catering facilities in the monument field; however the café at the visitor centre will be open for hot drinks and breakfast rolls from 6am.

Please visit the official English Heritage website for full details.

Relevant links:

Respecting the Stones.  Managed Open Access

Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present.

English Heritage Conditions of Entry

The Salisbury Reds special solstice shuttle service

For traffic, weather and other updates on the morning of the winter solstice, Follow @St0nehenge @EH_Stonehenge @VisitStonehenge @HighwaysEngland @VisitWiltshire @DruidKingArthur @Wiltshirepolice for #WinterSolstice2018

If you are unable to visit Stonehenge on the Solstice you can watch our LIVE PERISCOPE STONEHENGE BROADCAST

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