A Neolithic pagan ritual gets the full digital update
The summer solstice traditionally draws tens of thousands of visitors to Stonehenge, the Neolithic stone monument that lies northwest o f Salisbury in the Wiltshire countryside. With a history stretching back 4,500 years, this is an important location for celebrating the changing seasons at a time when ‘the cyclical nature of growth, death, and rebirth were the most essential truths, upon which the balance of life itself was hung’.
‘So it’s about 4 o’clock in the morning on the 21st of June,’ YouTube vlogger Half-Asleep Chris says into the camera in 2019. ‘It’s the longest day, the summer solstice. And when the sun comes up in a about an hour’s time, I’m going to see and experience something that people have been doing for thousands of years.’
Chris was there to watch as the sun rose ‘behind the heel stone precisely in line with The Avenue and perfectly framed between what’s left of the Great Trilithon and the uprights of the Sarson circle’.
It’s an experience that thousands will have to forego this year.
‘We have consulted widely on whether we could have proceeded safely and we would have dearly liked to host the event as per usual, but sadly, in the end, we feel we have no choice but to cancel.
We hope that our [livestream] offers an alternative opportunity for people near and far to connect with this spiritual place at such a special time of year and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year.’Nichola Tasker, Stonehenge Director
So be sure to tune in on English Heritage’s social channels on 21 June to watch the phenomenon. And in the meantime, enjoy Chris’ video on last year’s celebration:
‘As the sun soaked everything in its wonderful light, there was a collective sense of wonder to welcome in the longest day and to continue the traditions of our neolithic ancestors.’Half-Asleep Chris