winter solstice 2012

MORE than 5,000 people turned out to greet the sun at Stonehenge on Friday morning.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice 2012

The weather held off for sunrise at the Winter Solstice celebrations and only one arrest was made for drunk and disorderly behaviour.

An English Heritage spokesman said: “This year the weather was particularly fine and the ancient stones were bathed in winter sunshine. The atmosphere throughout was good natured.

“English Heritage would like to thank everyone who helped organise this year’s celebrations.”


Visitors were rewarded with a spectacular sunrise


Stonehenge Guided Tours – 

Looking to join in with Winter Solstice celebrations – then head to Glastonbury or Stonehenge on the 21st December

If the annual hustle and bustle of the Christmas rush is getting you down then how about experiencing a different sort of celebration this December?  The Winter Solstice celebrations at Chalice Well Garden in Glastonbury, and also at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, may just be the trick for a bit of peaceful meditation. 

Stonehenge SolsticeChalice Well is known as a World Peace Garden.  Run by The Chalice Well Trust, it is a place of peace and tranquillity for those of all faiths, and also those who do not have one. People gather together, not in a building or structure of worship, but in the beautiful garden, with the idea being that this will allow a shared acknowledgement of the sacred and divine that members believe transcends borders and differences.

The festivals held here are grounded in the following common principles; welcome, stillness, silence, reflection, grace, communion, community, relationship, celebration, gratitude and blessing.  One such festival, The Wheel of the Year Festival, is a Winter Solstice meditation, and will be held in the Garden on Friday December 21 between 12.00 and 12.30pm.

On this date people will be gathering at the Well Head at 12pm for celebration and meditation until 12:30.  At 12:30 they are invited to join around the fire on the Lower Lawn for informal ’conversation’, the hope being that this will be an opportunity for people to share ideas, thoughts and beliefs, and perhaps also a chance to increase connection through understanding.  Refreshments will be available on the day.

Head to Glastonbury, Somerset, for the Winter Solstice with the Challice Well Trust

If you would prefer to experience the Winter Solstice like the druids do, then you may want to undertake a tour to Stonehenge instead.  Each year on December 21st, visitors from around the world gather peacefully at the English Heritage site early in the morning to mark the most important day of the year at Stonehenge, and to see the sunrise above the stones.

The Winter Solstice is an ad hoc celebration that brings together England’s New Age Tribes (neo-druids, neo-pagans, Wiccans) with ordinary families, tourists, travellers and party people for a magical and spiritual experience.  Stonehenge is carefully aligned on a sight-line that points to the winter solstice sunset.  At dawn the central Altar stone aligns with the Slaughter stone, Heel stone and the rising sun to the northeast.  The exact time for the Solstice on the 21st is 11.39pm, UK time.  The sunset is at 3.53pm and the sunrise at 8.04am.

Coach tours to Stonehenge are available and some come with a guide, allowing you to spend 1-2 hours inside the stone circle and witness the sun rising, Druid Ceremony and festivities.  The complex is usually roped off, meaning visitors normally observe the stones from a distance, but pre-booked winter solstice tours do allow you to be amongst the stones for a short period of access before the site opens to the general public, likely to be from approximately 7.30 to 9.00am.

How exciting! If you fancy joining in in the solstice celebrations, let us know where and do send us a picture!

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Stonehenge Guided

The latest 3D laser technology has revealed new evidence of the importance of the midwinter sunset to the ancient creators of Stonehenge.

The detailed laser scan and digital imaging of Stonehenge commissioned by English Heritage showed significant differences in how various stones were shaped and worked.

The varying techniques and amounts of work confirms not only that the builders intended to align the monument on the axis of the sun at midsummer and midwinter, but also that the view from the north east was particularly important.

Researchers said it was clear the stones were meant to be approached from the north east up the ancient processional avenue towards the direction of the midwinter sunset.

Approaching and viewing the stone circle from this direction meant the winter solstice sunset had particular importance to prehistoric people, and efforts were made to create a dramatic spectacle for those coming from the north east, experts said.

The stones in the outer circle which could be seen on the approach from the north east have been completely “pick dressed”, removing the brown and grey crust of the rock on the surface to reveal the bright, grey-white underneath.

But the outer faces of those on the other side of the outer circle were not worked in the same way.

The stones facing the north east are also the largest and most uniform, and the lintels are very well-worked and finished compared to those elsewhere in Stonehenge.

Stones that flanked the north east/south west axis of the summer and winter solstices were most carefully worked to create straight and narrow rectangular gaps.

The researchers said that as other stones in the monument have more natural, less neat outlines, it seems that the creators were making a special effort to allow a dramatic passage of sunlight through the stone circle at midsummer and midwinter.

Join us at Stonehenge this Winter Solstice:

Stonehenge Guided Tours
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