The Summer Solstice at Stonehenge is an annual tradition where over 20,000 people come to see the sunrise thru the inner circle. Although historians don’t know exactly why these stone were erected in this formation, it shows how our ancestors watched the sun. Stonehenge is aligned with both solstices, 6 months and 180 degrees apart! Every year people come to see the sun rises between the Heel Stone, which is only in perfect alignment on the summer Solstice!
Can you see me?
There I am!
Normally, if you visit Stonehenge, which is 80 miles southwest of London, you must stay behind a wire fence about 100 yards away. I did my research and applied to have a private tour at 5 am to see the sunrise one week before the Summer Solstice! It was me and one German couple (with 2 security guards of course). It was very intimate and amazing to be able to walk around these magnificent stones at sunrise in such serenity.
These stones were created into monuments around 3000 and 2920 BC, however, smaller stones have been found in the area as old as 8000 BC! This shows the area was used long before its main period of construction.
Here comes the sun!
There I am!
And there I am with the sunrise! The stone in the center of the middle window is the Heel Stone; where the sun rises adjacently with it just a week after my visit! When this happens, its first rays shine right into the heart of Stonehenge and that gives people a reason to celebrate. If only I was there with thousands of other people to experience that.. I think I would have gotten lost.
The engineering behind shaping and raising the stones is truly incredible. In order for these massive stones to stay in place, our ancestors had to shape lintels and then create a join locking system with mortise and tenon joints.
Proof I wasn’t trespassing…
The one guard was nice enough to hold me, since you CANNOT touch the stones!
Other fun facts about Stonehenge:
-It took over 200 people to move each stone, some weighing over 35 tons. Some rocks came as far as 150 miles! It could take on average 12 days to move stones that were only located 19 miles away.
-One reason for the careful placement of the rocks was to create a calendar. Our ancestors depended on successful crops, so knowing the time of year was very important to planting, harvesting and breeding livestock.
-There are circular hedges all around the surrounding area of Stonehenge, where singular people were buried. This may be because it was considered a place of healing, where people traveled and then died in the area. Or, it was a tribute to dead ancestors; a cemetery.
-The term “Stonehenge” was created around 645 AD when the Roman’s were conquering much of the United Kingdom. When the Roman’s moved from place to place, they tried to bring their own religion into already established buildings. In this case, they used this monument as a burial ground for a man who had been decapitated. The term “Stonehenge” was created from the words “stone” and “henge,” which means “hanging.”
–Druids did not build Stonehenge!! Druids were priests who flourished in the Iron Age, around the time the Roman’s began occupying Britain in 43 AD. The reason for this common myth is a writer named William Stukeley, who stated Stonehenge was not created by the Roman’s or the Danes, but by the previous inhabits living in Britain. Stukeley published his opinions in the early 18th century, and although he was correct in most of his hypotheses about Stonehenge, he was wrong when he declared Druids the builders. Since the monument was recognized as a temple, the only other ancient priests he knew, and therefore he believed created the structures, where the Druids.
Please feel free to leave any questions you may have… I have an entire book directly from this Wonder of the World and World Heritage Site. I always love to continue to share!