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Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2005

Stonehenge Summer Solstice dawn

Sunrise was at 04.58 on Tuesday 21st June 2005


- is a perfect marker for the Summer Solstice - the midsummer sunrise dawns over the magnificent Heel Stone, watched by thousands from within the inner circle of the People's Temple - today as in the past ...

Monday evening 20.06.05 10p.m
Fantastic sunrise

On this warm, balmy summer's evening around 21,000 people gathered at Stonehenge to watch the magical midsummer dawn rise above the ancient megaliths. This June celebration is becoming a permanent fixture to many people's Summer calendar, and this year the conditions for a spectacular sunrise looked perfect.

The Summer solstice on the 21st June marks the longest day of 2005. It is the day when the North Pole is tilted farthest towards the Sun and the Sun reaches its highest latitude north of the equator. From now on the days will begin to shorten. We still had a full night ahead in great company to celebrate.

stonehenge circle
Stonehenge dawn
English Heritage opened up the prehistoric temple to Druids, spiritualists and revellers of all ages, who celebrated the Summer Solstice within the ancient circle with bongo playing, horns, dancing and chanting. Some dressed up for the occasion - with fairy wings and glitter, flowery midsummer wreaths adorned heads, dark velvet hooded gowns, druid capes and loads of exotic hats were seen. The Green man was spotted in all his leafy finery.

Normally visitors to the treasured monument are kept behind a fence, so it is a wonderful experience just to be able to walk amongst the huge sarsens and trilithons and to get close enough to touch their cold, lichen-covered surfaces. There were people touching the stones - hoping to absorb their powerful vibes, some joined hands and danced round them, whilst others nestled beneath the towering trilithons gazing upwards in awe at their size.

summer solstice
Stonehenge solstice dawn
The atmosphere as usual was brilliant, as the golden glimmer of sunrise broke out across the misty sky, at the start of the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Cheers and whistles echoed across the vast Salisbury Plain and amongst the silent stone sentinels, as the sun rose out of the morning mist over the gnarled and weathered Heel stone at 4:58 a.m.
solstice party
stonehenge solstice
Whether Stonehenge was a temple, a burial ground, an astronomy marker, it doesn't matter - it comes alive when filled with people, and so many feel compelled to gather and celebrate together as our ancestors surely did. I stood amongst magical people - all celebrating life and it felt so good!

The solstice celebrations are important to many, there are those that feel such rituals re-connect us with the earth, and also bring the enjoyable company of other like-minded people. Celebrating nature in this sacred circle brings a sharp perspective to life and brings a spiritual calmness that many swear comes directly from the magic stones. Many ancient civilisations marked the Summer Solstice, seeing it as a time to celebrate the forces which controlled the natural cycle of life, death and rebirth.

Before dawn, King Arthur Pendragon, the head chieftain of the British Council of Druids, led a torch-lit dance to celebrate Nature's renewal. King Arthur was reported as saying the Summer Solstice symbolises the mythical Oak King ( who rules for the first half of the year) being beaten in battle by the Holly King ( the ruler of the second half of the year).

King Arthur fought repeatedly for many years for the people's access to Stonehenge following the Battle of Beanfield, in 1985 and the subsequent exclusion zone.
English Heritage has allowed 'Managed Open Access' for the Summer Solstice since 2000, and also allows Winter Solstice access to the circle for those willing to brave the cold Wiltshire winds.

King Arthur

It was a beautiful warm, sunny solstice morning as we all trooped wearily back down the lane and across the fields to the tightly packed car park and the reality of normal life, the mighty stones retreating further into the distance.

English Heritage workers were striking on 21.06.05 against a recent imposed pay deal - luckily it did not affect the Summer Solstice celebrations. The stones are closed to visitors for a day so the site can be cleaned up after the mega solstice party.

Happy Summer Solstice!

dawn over the Heel Stone
solstice sky

The Summer Solstice is the high point of the solar year, when the forces and energies of nature are at their peak. The Solstice - literally meaning 'a stopping or standing still of the sun' - occurs twice a year. For several days around 20th June the sun - which has been slowly moving northwards - appears to be stationary.

The midsummer sunrise marks the furthest point northwards along the horizon at which the sun ever rises.

Battle of the Beanfield 1985 - twenty years on

Last year marked 20 years since the 'Battle of the Beanfield', in June 1985 - involving 500 policemen and 400 travellers.
A convoy of 140 vehicles, beginning at Savernake Forest near Marlborough, was stopped by a police road-block on their way to a festival at Stonehenge.

The convoy were determined to set up the Stonehenge Free Festival, despite court injunctions raised by the National Trust and other landowners, including an English Heritage ban on midsummer festivals at the stones. When stopped within 7 miles of Stonehenge by police blockages of gravel and council vehicles, 200 of the convoy retreated into a nearby field and there followed a 4 hour confrontation. Vehicles were smashed and men, women and children were taken away by the police - 420 people were arrested with obstruction of the highway.
See news archive video : BBC
In 1985, even the Druids weren't allowed access to the Stonehenge circle - the midsummer dawn rays fell on the empty stone circle. The People's Temple was off limits to the people.

After the Beanfield battle, a 4-mile exclusion zone was created at Stonehenge every summer solstice. It took six years before 24 of the travellers won their case against the police for wrongful arrest, criminal damage to their vehicles and assault.

Thanks to the people who continued to fight over the following years for access to the Henge, it is now possible for us to touch the megalithic marvels rather than have to gaze longingly at them from a fenced distance. People like Arthur Pendragon and his Warband followers who were arrested year after year. It was only through such persistence that Open Access was finally agreed.

English Heritage's ban was finally lifted in 2000 and over 6,000 people celebrated the midsummer dawn within the mighty Stonehenge sarsens.

Recommended Book

The first full-length book about the Beanfield : The Battle of the Beanfield
(Ed. Andy Worthington) £11.65

Andy's earlier book - an excellent read if you're interested in the solstice, free festivals, Stonehenge and freedom of the people
Stonehenge - Celebration and Subversion £9.72
Battle of the Beanfield

Winter Solstice 2007 - 22nd December

The midwinter sunset can be seen between Stonehenge's uprights - the largest trilithon