Summer Solstice: Stonehenge
Monday 21st June officially marks the Summer Solstice in the UK, the Longest Day, the day when we have the most amount of sunlight. Here in the West of England the sun will rise around 04:52 BST and will set around 21:26 BST allowing us to enjoy just over 16.5 hours of sunlight! I love this time of year - it is perfect for sightseeing with lots of daylight to see places.
For thousands of years people have marked the Summer Solstice with festivities and ceremonies. During the era of the Stone Age, people created monuments which incredibly highlighted the movement of the sun at this time. One of these monuments, and arguably the most famous, is Stonehenge which lies just over 30 miles (48kms) from Bath.
On the Summer Solstice the sun rises next to the famous Heel Stone which is located on the perimeter of the stone circle at Stonehenge and the first rays of light strike into the heart of the stone circle. There may have been another stone next to the Heel Stone which would have framed this sunrise. The stone circle at Stonehenge also highlights the movement of the sun during the Winter Solstice which takes place in December. No-one knows exactly what the purpose of Stonehenge was but the fact its design highlighted the solstices suggest that it was used to mark these occasions and people may have carried out rituals or ceremonies at Stonehenge at that time.
Today modern druids, pagan groups and others gather at Stonehenge to mark the solstice. Normally they would be allowed inside the stone circle to do this but sadly due to the ongoing pandemic this will not be possible this year. Stonehenge however will be live-streaming the sunrise on the 21st June (and the sunset on the 20th June) on the English Heritage Facebook page. To watch this please visit their Facebook event page here. Please be aware of imitations and scams - the event is free and you do not need to enter payment details to watch.
If you would like to learn more about Stonehenge why not join me on one of my tours of this fascinating stone circle. Please click here for more information on the different types of tours that are available.
Did you know: June 21st will officially mark the start of our summer and summer will officially end on the 22nd September. Happy summer everyone!