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.





View the sky above Stonehenge LIVE now with Skyscape. See how this ancient monument relates to the skies above it.

24 06 2019

A new website has been created by English Heritage to enable people around the world to experience the skies above the iconic stone circle, to learn about movements of the sun, moon and planets and to see the solar alignment at Stonehenge.

sky

The visuals are a representation of the view from within Stonehenge, a composite from various sources, not the literal view. Visit the skyscape website here

Day view
The view of the daytime sky is accurate to within a window of approximately five minutes, with the position of the sun accurate to a similar margin. You can use the highlighted squares at the top to view the last sunrise and sunset. Weather conditions are accurate – you may sometimes see raindrops on the camera!

Night view
After dark we switch from a photographic depiction to a computer generated one, which accurately displays the live location of the stars and the five visible planets. Neptune, Uranus and Pluto (as a dwarf planet) are consciously not included, as, being invisible to the naked eye, they remained undiscovered until the 18th century or later, and were consequently unknown to the builders of Stonehenge. As the night sky is a computer model it does not reflect weather conditions at the site.

Enjoy the experience!
Aside from the technical and informational aspects of Skyscape it’s also our hope that you’ll enjoy it from a more human perspective. We’ve created a webpage which offers a small escape, a pleasant place to visit, to which you can return frequently, even within a single day, and connect with the land, the stones and the skies above.

To capture the sky, a custom Raspberry Pi based, solar powered camera equipped with a 220° Fish Eye lens was built. You can see the status of the camera at freeboard.io .

How to use the site
Skyscape makes use of many modern web standards, so performs best with a modern browser and operating system. Older software, such as Internet Explorer, cannot always provide a good experience. Latest versions of browsers such as FirefoxChrome, Edge and Safari will perform best.

Visit the Skyscape website  here

If you are experiencing issues, try updating your system and graphics drivers to the latest version.

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http://www.Stonehenge.News





Thousands of people gathered to greet the sun as it rose over Stonehenge for the summer solstice.

23 06 2019

About 10,000 people gathered at the Stonehenge to greet the start of the longest day of the year, according to Wiltshire Police. The celebrations at Stonehenge came as people descended on sites across the UK to celebrate the first day of summer.

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Kate Logan, from English Heritage, said: “There was a lovely, friendly atmosphere, the sun shone and the dawn was greeted with loud cheers.”  For the first time, people from around the world were also able to join in from the comfort of their homes as English Heritage launched a live feed from a camera set up close to the stones.

The crowds encountered a chilly morning accompanied by clear skies as the sun rose at 4.52am. 

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.

Summer solstice takes place as one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the sun and the sun reaches its highest position in the sky, ensuring the longest period of daylight in the year.

It is believed that solstices have been celebrated at Stonehenge for thousands of years.

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RELEVANT LINKS:
Evening Standard
BBC
TIME MAGAZINE
MSN





Hundreds of druids and pagans descend on Stonehenge to celebrate the Autumn Equinox

24 09 2017

Hundreds of pagans and druids descended on Stonehenge on the 23rd September to celebrate the equinox as autumn began.

Visitors headed to the famous 5,000-year-old site 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.

Photographs showed attendees singing and wearing a variety of extravagant outfits as onlookers watched on.

 

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Stone Circle (“Special”) Access

20 08 2017

Before 1978 you were free to walk around inside the stone circle at Stonehenge once you’d paid your admission fee. The lack of any guards overnight meant people also hopped the fence once the site had closed.

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Stonehenge at dawn.  A special access ‘inner circle’ visit at sunrise.

Finally, in response to the over 800,000 annual visitors, access was restricted. An article entitled “Heritage Under Siege” in New Scientist (Sept 27th, 1979) reports the Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings as saying:

“The whole problem of Stonehenge is numbers … all through the year. What menaces Stonehenge are the millions of feet (and hands) of the ordinary visitors.”

… and continues:

“An archaeologist calculated that if each visitor walked around the central area just twice during his or her visit, the effect would be the same as having one man standing on each square foot inside the ring and jumping up and down on that spot 62 times every day throughout the year.”

After March 1978, everyone was banned from inside the circle – including archaeologists and other researchers, much to their annoyance. Department of the Environment officials said that the plans to allow out-of-hours access to “those with a special interest” had to be abandoned because the custodians were unwilling to work overtime. And so it remained for a long time.

Eventually things changed and these days it’s possible to book to go inside the stone circle on what is called a “Stone Circle Access” or “Special Access” visit. These are one-hour long slots before and after the monument is open to the public during the day, and a maximum of 30 people are allowed inside at a time.

You can book as an individual, or via a tour company who may (or may not) provide a well-informed guide to show you some of the hidden features that you might otherwise miss.

Once inside, if the light’s right you can pick out some of the hundreds of examples of wrencarved initials and names on the stones. One of them might even be that of Christopher Wren – a local lad who made good and went on to design the new St. Paul’s Cathedral after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

One thing that a lot of people fail to notice is the sound of the place – there’s a definite sense of entering into an enclosed, peaceful space a soon as you come in through the primary entrance beneath the central lintel of the three on the northeast side of the circle.

It’s only when you’re up really close to the monument that the epic scale of the stones really strikes you – the tallest one is over 7m from grass to top, and there’s a further 2.5m in the ground. Weighing in at over 40 tons it’s a beautifully shaped monolith that was part of the tallest trilithon on the site. Sadly its partner upright fell and broke long ago, leaving the lintel they both supported lying on its side in the southwest part of the central area.

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The bluestones, though much smaller than the sarsens, are still impressive rocks – the tallest one stands leaning in front of the highest sarsen stone and has a wide groove worked all the way down one edge. No-one knows why.

There are a few rules – no standing on the stones, no touching them, no smoking – but apart from that you’re free to wander around and properly appreciate both the enormity of the large sarsen blocks, the elegance of the bluestone pillars and the ingenuity of the builders who created the monument over 4,500 years ago.

If you have the chance, by far the best way to see Stonehenge is through a Stone Circle Access visit.  

Stonehenge Guided Tours pioneered these Stonehenge access tours and offer frequent scheduled coach tours at sunrise and sunset. They can often arrange private custom inner circle tours with expert guides.  The Stonehenge Travel Company are based in nearby Salisbury and are considered the local Stonehenge experts.
Article by guest blogger and local Stonehenge historian Simon Banton

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Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2017: Crowds gather on the longest (and hottest) day of the year

21 06 2017

About 13,000 people watched the sunrise at Stonehenge on Wednesday morning, on the longest day of the year.

The sun rose at the historic monument in Wiltshire at 04:52 BST.

English Heritage opens the site up every year for the solstice, giving people a rare chance to get up close to the monument.

sunrisest

Read this story on the BBC Wiltshire website

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Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. From Past to Present.

4 06 2017

Although there was historically a Summer Fayre at Stonehenge held on traditional midsummer’s day of the 24th of June, it was only comparatively recently that the association between Stonehenge and the Summer Solstice Sunrise was realised.

Before Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, the summer solstice had slipped out of sync with the old Julian calendar by 11 days. This meant that the Sun didn’t appear to rise from the Heelstone on 24th June. People somehow knew that they should be at Stonehenge on “midsummer’s day”, but the reason had long been forgotten.

Indeed, it was only in 1771 that the first link between the Heelstone and the Summer Solstice Sunrise was mentioned by Dr. John Smith, even though William Stukeley had identified that the Avenue lead off towards the solstice sunrise point some 30 years earlier. Smith churlishly didn’t even acknowledge Stukeley’s work in his book.

These days, of course, everyone knows about it.

Heelstone SunriseFrom about 3pm on the 20th June, Stonehenge closes to regular visitors in order for preparations to begin for the largest mass pilgrimage to a solar temple in modern times.

Up to 40,000 people begin arriving across the landscape on foot, or by car and coach to the fields by the Visitor Centre (parking charges are £5 per motorbike, £15 per car, live-in vehicle or minibus up to 19 seats, £100 per coach with coach-space pre-booking essential, and there is no discount for disabled badge holders) in advance of the monument being reopened at 7pm.

This is the one time in the year when anyone can spend the night inside the stone circle, and it gets crowded very quickly with travellers, drummers, pagans, druids, cosplay wizards and faeries, as well as more “ordinary” folk. Alcohol has been banned in recent years but evidence is obvious of prior indulgence in that and other recreational substances amongst the revellers. This “managed open access” has the feeling of a massive outdoor party rather than a respectful observance but most people seem to have a good time.

The locals tend to come for the evening on the 20th before escaping ahead of full nightfall, and the atmosphere is more family-friendly between 7pm and sunset around 9.30pm.

Solstice Eve

Ahead of sunset a number of groups tend to perform “all welcome” ceremonies in the centre of the circle, including the modern Druids usually led by Archdruid Rollo Maughling, King Arthur Pendragon or Merlin of England.

As night falls the entire field around the monument fills up and people gather in groups on and under blankets (no sleeping bags permitted) and while away the hours until the much-anticipated solstice dawn on the 21st.

A number of concession stands near the field entrance serve up tea, coffee and a variety of food to keep everyone warm, and there are first aiders, security marshalls, volunteer peace stewards and a low-key police presence to ensure everyone’s safety. Portaloos are installed all around the site as well as lighting gantries which are gradually dimmed as dawn approaches. Bags are security checked at the entrances to the field to intercept glass bottles or other dangerous items, and no animals are allowed apart from the drugs sniffer dogs on the gate.

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The “managed open access” at summer solstice has been in place since 2000 and I have attended all bar two of them. In 15 years, I’ve seen a clear solstice sunrise only twice – so if you plan to come, be prepared for a cloudy morning with no sight of the Sun.

Bring waterproofs and wear many layers – it can be unexpectedly cold at 2am in the middle of a field in Wiltshire, and it frequently rains (on occasion very, very heavily) overnight. Umbrellas are forbidden but a black plastic binbag makes an acceptable, if unfashionable, substitute.

Dawn occurs at 4.52 BST, but the Sun is always a few minutes late because the trees on the horizon to the northeast delay its appearance. As the centre of the circle is by now absolutely rammed solid, the Druid ceremony usually takes place by the Heelstone after sunrise.

The monument field has to be cleared by 8am so that the site can be tidied up and put back to normal in time for it to re-open to regular visitors by about 3pm on the 21st.

The attendees drift away back towards the car park and peace, of a sort, descends.

Crowds leaving

Now the real work begins for the on-site Historic Property Stewards who care for the monument all year round, and the army of temporary contractors.

The grass in the centre of the circle is “groomed” with rakes having been trampled flat by thousands of feet for 13 hours and the whole area of the monument within the henge bank and ditch perimeter is litter-picked on hands and knees. Lost property is gathered together in case the owners come back for it – though how anyone can forget a baby buggy is hard to imagine.

The visitor barrier ropes are re-installed around the circle, the interpretation panels are re-erected, the bench seats on the path are returned and the overnight infrastructure is taken away, along with several tons of rubbish. Sprinklers are deployed to revivify the turf.

The Stonehenge Summer Solstice experience is unlike any other – for some people it’s a lifetime’s ambition, for others it’s an excuse for a party.

For Stonehenge, this year will be something like the 4,517th time it’s seen people gather at this turning point in the seasonal round – it must have some stories to tell, and Stone 28 is probably the one to tell them – you just have to listen closely.

Article by guest blogger and local Stonehenge historian Simon Banton

If you are considering visiting Stonehenge for the Solstice or Equinox celebrations you can join an organised tour and save all the hassle.  Use a reputable tour operator who respect the conditions.  Stonehenge Guided Tours are the longest established company and Solstice Events offer small group Solstice tours using only local expert guides.

Relevant links:
Stonehenge Summer Solstice Open Access Arrangements.
Respecting the Stones
English Heritage Conditions of Entry
The Salisbury Reds special solstice shuttle service
Stonehenge Summer Solstice Tours and transport from London
Stonehenge Summer Solstice Tours from Bath

Follow @St0nehenge @EH_Stonehenge @VisitStonehenge @HighwaysEngland and @Wiltshirepolice for #summersolstice updates on the night.

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
http://www.Stonehenge.News

 

 

 








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