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Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

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by Angela Lord (subscribe)
Freelance writer specialising in arts, travel and entertainment news, previews and reviews.
Event:
Time-honoured tradition at ancient stone circle


Celebrations marking the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge are thought to date back to the prehistoric era.

This time-honoured tradition has been revived in recent years, with crowds gathering at daybreak on 21 June, the longest day of the year, to watch the sun rise over these ancient stones.

Various theories have been put forward as to the precise nature and purpose of the stone circle. It was almost certainly a temple, meeting place and burial site, and could also be considered as a gigantic calendar.

Mystery also surrounds its construction, as some of the huge, heavy stones were transported to the site from a considerable distance away.

In 1740, antiquarian William Stukeley was the first to put forward evidence that the circle was aligned according to the winter and summer solstices (the shortest and longest days of the year.)

Later excavations uncovered Bronze Age artefacts and remains which suggest that the stone circle was built in the late Neolithic period, around 2,500 BC.

This World Heritage Site near Salisbury in Wiltshire is managed by English Heritage. Parking and entry to the Monument is free for the summer solstice, subject to certain conditions of entry which can be found on the English Heritage website, along with further details on opening times and prices.

The Solstice car park opens at 7pm on Thursday 20 June, last admission to the car park is 6am on Friday 21 June. Sunrise on the summer solstice is at 4.25am. Stonehenge closes at 8am that morning.

Regular entry price on other days is 8 for adults and 4.80 for children under 15. Concessions available.


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Why? Summer Solstice celebration
When: 21 June
Where: Stonehenge
Cost: Free on Summer solstice, 8 per adult other days
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