Monday 22 June 2009

Another Solstice

Though it didn't enjoy the perfect clear sky at sunrise, the 2009 Summer Solstice at Stonehenge was a memorable one. Falling as it did on a Saturday night / Sunday morning, it was expected to attract a large crowd...

...and it did! Normally, there is a small queue to get into the car park, but this year it was nearly 5 miles long, stretching back from Amesbury, and running all around the Stonehenge site. I finally turned off the road some time after 2am, and was lucky to be one of the last cars allowed into the parking field which was almost completely full. With miles of traffic still lining the horizon, it's a mystery where everyone parked.

Despite the sea of cars, and the crowds walking the mile and a half over to the monument, the number of people on the site was staggering. Attending the Solstice on many previous occasions, I'm used to the dense press of bodies around the stones but this was unlike anything I'd ever seen. With a vast carpet of people sitting and sleeping all around, it was a challenge to move about in the darkness without treading on anyone - and to those 3 or 4 who yelled "Ouch!" I can only apologize.

The night seemed to pass easily this year - rain makes the hours drag but the weather stayed dry. More than 35,000 people watched the horizon at 4:50am as dawn approached, but the perfect sunrise was obscured by an unfortunately placed cloud-bank.

And yet, it didn't seem to matter. The mood was largely happy - there seemed to be few arguments between the visitors and the authorities, and the party in the centre of the stones went on as though the sun had broken through.

Photographers, who in previous years have made themselves unwelcome by showing little sensitivity to the event, were less apparent this time around. As a result, it was possible for those of us with camera to move around and record the event respectfully and peacefully.

So, a good Summer Solstice to witness and be a part of. Let's hope that next year's can be even better.

1 comment:

  1. Great picture Fergus - I particularly like that one. I worked with someone a couple of years ago who was employed by a very well known engineering company. One of their board directors was a druid and celebrated the solstice in full druid garb which I always found fascinating. Glad you had a good solstice.