Stonehenge gathering marks summer solstice.

22 06 2013

Summer solstice: thousands descend on Stonehenge to greet longest day

‘Reincarnated king’ among 20,000 revellers gathered at ancient monument to watch sun ascend over misty Wiltshire plain

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

They came in their thousands. Some worshipped, others partied. Many were there simply to enjoy the atmosphere of the summer solstice at Stonehenge.

More than 20,000 people were at the ancient monument to greet the sunrise at 4.52am at the start of the longest day of the year. After a warm, moonlit night the mist and mizzle descended, making it impossible to judge the moment when the sun rose over the Wiltshire plain without an accurate watch.

But it did not matter much. “I’ve had a lovely time,” said Belle Gay, a 21-year-old pagan from Exeter who was on her first pilgrimage to Stonehenge. “It doesn’t concern me that we couldn’t actually see the sun rise. That’s how nature is – you can’t control the elements and that’s why it’s all so special. It’s such a beautiful, peaceful place.”

Arthur Pendragon, who claims to be a reincarnation of the once and future king and is a poster boy of the pagans at solstice, was keen to make peace his key message

As the sun ascended, invisibly, he called for peace in the east, west, north and south. “That’s what it’s all about, we want peace and fairness for all,” he said.

Pendragon, who sports long white robes, set about knighting new followers to his druidic order, the Loyal Arthurian Warband, which he described as the political wing of the religion. “We’re the ones who get into trees to stop roadbuilding and take on people like English Heritage over access to the stones. We’re sworn to fight for truth, for honour and for justice.”

It was a busy time for the king. Overnight he had also carried out around a dozen “handfasting” ceremonies – the pagan equivalent of weddings. Husband and wife vow that they will stay together “for a year and a day, eternity and beyond or for however long love will last”.

The 21st century is proving a good time to be a druid or pagan. Almost 60,000 people in England and Wales described themselves as pagan in the 2011 census.

Professor Ronald Hutton, a leading expert on paganism based at Bristol University, said he believed there were at least 100,000 practising pagans in Britain. He pointed out that only a million Church of England devotees go to mass every Sunday, “so paganism matters”

Rollo Maughfling, who answers to the grand title archdruid of Stonehenge and Britain, said he believed the religion’s green credentials were attractive to many younger people. “More and more people, especially younger ones, are being attracted to our way of doing things,” he said. “People realise that we see the divine in nature and that is attractive to more and more people in these troubled times.”

Steve Harris, 20, from Manchester, had different priorities. “I’ve lost my mates,” he said. He admitted to having drunk an evil-sounding mixture of lager, cider and brandy as well as having smoked “something a bit herbal”.

He had been dancing away the early hours in the stone circle, where drummers took turns in keeping the beat going through the night. “We danced for a few hours, we drank for a few hours. Now I think I may have missed my lift.”

Harris said he intended to stay “pretty sozzled” between now and next week when he would be at Glastonbury. The solstice at Stonehenge used to be a staging post for many hippy types heading to the music festival but Glastonbury and Stonehenge have changed over the years. Gone are the ugly clashes between revellers and police that resulted in the stones being closed at solstice.

In the 14 years since so-called managed access has been taking place, tensions have eased and the head of Stonehenge for English Heritage, Peter Carson, said he had noticed a greater variety of people attending the solstice. “We’re getting more families coming and more overseas visitors. Not everyone is happy at the access but there is much less hostility.”

By this time next year major changes at Stonehenge will be complete. On Monday, one of the roads that runs close to the stones will be closed and by this time next year it should be grassed over as part of a project to restore one of the key approaches to the site. A new visitor centre is to be opened in December.

Meanwhile Wiltshire police were delighted with the night and morning. Superintendent Matt Pullen said: “Solstice 2013 has been a great success, with approximately 21,000 people celebrating in the positive, friendly atmosphere as they waited for sunrise. This year there have been a lower number of arrests compared with previous years, 22 were taken into custody mainly in relation to drugs offences.”

As the sun rose higher (and, oddly, the temperature dropped) Steve and Debbie Jones, who had made the trek from Hertfordshire, were pushing their one-year-old baby, Stan, in a buggy away from the stones. “We’re not pagans, we’re not hippies, we just wanted to come and have a look,” said Steve. “It was a lovely evening, warm, peaceful, memorable. We’ll come back.”

This article was by,

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

Summer Solstice Celebrations at Stonehenge 2013

20 06 2013

English Heritage is pleased to be providing Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice on 20-21 June 2013. Please help us to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines set out on these pages. The full Conditions of Entry can also be downloaded from the link at the bottom of this page. 

Stonehenge during sunrise at midsummer

English Heritage  have a duty of care to ensure public safety and are responsible for protecting  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 

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

During Managed Open Access for Summer Solstice at 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) Thursday 20th June
  • ACCESS TO STONEHENGE 1900 hours (7pm) Thursday 20th June
  • LAST ADMISSION TO SOLSTICE CAR PARK   0600 hours (6am) Friday 21st June
  • STONEHENGE CLOSES  0800 hours (8am) Friday 21st June
  • SOLSTICE CAR PARK TO BE VACATED  1200 hours (12 Noon) Friday 21st June – see 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

Sunset and sunrise occur at the following times:

  • Sunset on Thursday 20th June 2013 is at 2126 hrs (9.26pm)
  • Sunrise on Friday 21st June 2013 is at 0452 hrs (4.52am)

Travelling to Stonehenge for Summer Solstice:

Parking for Summer Solstice at Stonehenge:

Conditions of Entry for Summer Solstice:

Solstice Traffic Bulletin:

Other stuff about Stonehenge

Hopefully it will be warm and clear at Stonehenge for the Solstice, but it might be worth stating:

  • there’s no shelter at Stonehenge. If it rains you will get wet and muddy
  • it typically feels colder in Salisbury than it does in London, and it feels colder at Stonehenge than it does in Salisbury. It’s not going to be winter-solstice-cold but you might want to bring an extra layer or two
  • the English Heritage info is worth reading
  • be careful of your personal safety – it’s easy to assume Stonehenge will be full of mystics and gentle hippies. It’s not! (Link source:

Follow Stonehenge on Twitter for all the latest Solstice News:

Merlin says ” Happy Solstice Folks, lets make it a peaceful gathering.  Respect the Stones and Respect each other!”

The Stonehenge News Blog

Summer Solstice 2013 – Stonehenge managed access

10 06 2013

English Heritage is once again welcoming people to Stonehenge to celebrate the 2013 Summer Solstice. Sunrise will occur at 4.52am on Friday 21 June, on what is the longest day of the year.
Summer Solstice

Peter Carson, Head of Stonehenge at English Heritage, said: “This is the 14th year that English Heritage has provided free access to the stones and we are looking forward to a peaceful celebration enjoyed by thousands of people. This ongoing success is due to English Heritage working closely with the key partners and communities and together delivering an enjoyable and safe solstice. And, as with every year, we will balance the needs of those attending the solstice with our duty to protect the Stone Circle and its surrounding monuments.”

“The opening of the new Stonehenge visitor centre in December this year with its museum-quality exhibitions, a spacious café, and dedicated education space, will herald an exciting new era for Stonehenge. The way in which people visit Stonehenge in the future will change: we will be uplifting the whole experience to a level that befits this extraordinary and important monument.”

Over the night, people have the opportunity to celebrate the Solstice and this includes spontaneous drumming within the stone circle, playing of acoustic instruments and dancing in the performance area.  There will be a number of druid, pagan and other spiritual ceremonies throughout the night and especially at sunset and sunrise at various places around the monument, in particular the Heel Stone.

 For an idea of what to expect, view the Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2012 photo gallery.

Stonehenge will be open from 7pm on Thursday 20 June to 8am on Friday 21 June. The solstice car park, just off the A344 near Airman’s Corner, will open from 7pm on Thursday 20 June, with last admission at 6am on Friday 21 June.

Access to the stones and the car park is free of charge and subject to ‘Conditions of Entry’ which are published on the English Heritage website

Posted on June 5th, 2013 by in Stonehenge

The Stonehenge News Blog

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