Stonehenge Winter Solstice Celebrations: 22nd December 2017

25 11 2017

English Heritage will once again welcome people to Stonehenge to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Sunrise is just after 8am on Wednesday 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

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PRACTICAL INFORMATION:

DATE AND TIMINGS
FRIDAY 22nd DECEMBER 2017
MONUMENT FIELD OPENS: 07.45am (approximately, depending on light levels)
MONUMENT FIELD CLOSES: 10am

Please note, access to Stonehenge for Winter Solstice is free. Parking charges apply.

CONDITIONS OF ENTRY

Access to Stonehenge for solstice is subject to the Conditions of Entry – please read these before deciding whether to attend.  Please aslo read this article on respecting the Stones.

COME PREPARED

Stonehenge is in a field on Salisbury Plain and the weather in December will be cold and may be wet and windy. Even if it isn’t raining, the ground will be wet from the dew. There may also be frost.

Please be prepared for a 30 minute walk (in low light or darkness), from the bus drop off and from parking areas to the monument. You are strongly advised to wear warm and waterproof clothing and footwear and bring a torch with you.

Toilets at the Monument Field will only be available once the access period begins. There are no catering facilities in the monument field, however the café at the visitor centre is open for hot drinks and breakfast rolls from 6am.

Please note that there are no other amenities or facilities available to visitors until the Monument Field opens.

GETTING HERE:

Parking for Winter Solstice is very limited and English Heritage cannot guarantee that you will be able to park near to Stonehenge. If you are planning to travel by car, wherever you park there may be a 30 minute walk to the Monument. We strongly recommend car sharing or using public transport.

Car Sharing – Request or offer a lift to Solstice at Stonehenge

Travel by bus – Salisbury Reds buses will be running from 06:30 from Salisbury (New Canal, Stop U and Salisbury Rail Station). Check timetable.

Organised Tours – If you are considering visiting Stonehenge for the Winter Solstice celebrations you can even 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 and Solstice Events offer small group Winter Solstice tours from Bath using local expert guides.

Blue Badge Parking – Blue badge parking is in the visitor centre car park and permits must be booked in advance. There is accessible transport to the monument field from the visitor centre beginning at approximately 6.30am. Permits available from Solstice.Stonehenge@english-heritage.org.uk

Parking and parking charges Limited parking is available in the winter solstice car parks, which will open at 5.30am on the 22nd December. (Stonehenge re-opens to all visitors from 11.30am on Friday 22nd December)

As you approach Stonehenge, there will be signs to direct you to the car park – please ensure that you follow these. Please do not arrive early as there is no waiting on the roads in the area and you will be moved on.

Parking may involve a shuttle journey to the visitor centre and wherever you park there may be a 30 minute walk.

  • Cars, private hire minibuses and live-in vehicles £5
  • Motorbikes £2
  • Commercial coaches £100

The car parking charge is designed to encourage people to car share and will help the charity offset  the costs of providing additional staffing and lighting in the car parks.

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.

Motorists have access to a park and ride shuttle from the off-site solstice car parking to the visitor centre. A shuttle will also be provided between the visitor centre and Stonehenge, however visitors are asked to note that disabled people have priority on this bus and should therefore be prepared for a 30 minute walk, in low light, from parking areas to the monument.

English Heritage cannot guarantee entry to the car parks and recommend coming by public transport as cars will be turned away when the car parks are full.

 

Please visit the official English Heritage website for full details.

Relevant links:
Respecting the Stones
Salisbury Reds Local Bus Service

English Heritage Conditions of Entry
The Salisbury Reds special solstice shuttle service

Follow @St0nehenge @EH_Stonehenge @VisitStonehenge @HighwaysEngland @VisitWiltshire and @Wiltshirepolice for #WinterSolstice2017 updates on the day.

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





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

The Stonehenge News Blog





1000’s flock to Stonehenge for Solstice Sunrise

21 06 2014

THOUSANDS of druids, revellers, tourists and families stood side by side to welcome the sunrise at Stonehenge this morning.

Stonehenge Solstice Sunrise

 

The longest day falling on a weekend and the clear sky drew a crowd of about 36,000, 15,000 more than last year, to the Summer Solstice at the ancient monument.

While party-goers banged drums and cheered in the stone circle, the Loyal Arthurian War Band druids performed their spiritual ceremony by the Heel Stone.

People come from all over the world to be a part of the celebrations at Stonehenge and the bumper crowd were treated to one of the best sunrises at the monument in years.

This year’s mood seemed more subdued than previous and Wiltshire Police said 25 arrests were made at Stonehenge and two at Avebury, which were mainly for drug related offences.

Superintendent Gavin Williams said: “We are please the Solstice celebrations have been enjoyable events for the majority of people attending. The road system worked well and many people used the public transport as we advised.

“Every year there are new challenges for us at Solstice but it is always a pleasure to see so many people enjoying the event.”








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