Secrets of Stonehenge
The Children of the summer's end
Gathered in the dampened grass
We played Our songs and felt the London sky
Resting on our hands
It was God's land
It was ragged and naive
It was Heaven
Touch, We touched the very soul
Of holding each and every life
We claimed the very source of joy ran through
It didn't, but it seemed that way
I kissed a lot of people that day
Oh, to capture just one drop of all the ecstasy that
swept that afternoon,
To paint that love upon a white balloon,
And fly it from the topest top of all the tops that
man has pushed beyond his brain....
- Memory of A Free Festival
At 04.58 BST this morning, a record crowd of around 36,000 people gathered on Salisbury Plain to witness the Solstice sunrise at Stonehenge, however overcast skies obscured the sun.
The event to mark the dawn of the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere has grown in popularity since a four-mile exclusion zone around the site was lifted nine years ago. English Heritage, which manages the ancient monument, said the car park was full with 6,500 cars two hours before sunrise. With a crowd that size I wonder how many actually managed to see the sun rising over the Heel stone?
Police were expecting it to be busy this year, but have praised the crowd saying there were only a small number of arrests for minor offences; the majority of people had observed the Conditions of Entry issued by English Heritage ensuring that it has been a peaceful and enjoyable solstice.
English Heritage announced that it would be providing Managed Open Access to the event and closed its normal visitor operation at 15.00 hrs on Saturday, 20th June 2009 not re-opening again until 09.00 hrs on Monday, 22nd June 2009.
Solstice celebrations are spreading to Avebury, a limit of 200 tents was set at a field near the Avebury Ring after residents complained about the number of visitors to that site in 2008.
Although thousands flock to the mid-summer sunrise it is the mid-winter sunrise that was the most significant in ancient solar worship as the death and rebirth of the new sun.
Directly opposite the Stonehenge mid-summer sunrise north east axis is the mid-winter sunset. By the time of the mid-winter solstice the sunrise will have moved 78 degrees along the horizon to almost south east.
Boxing Day 2009 and New Year’s Day 20010 Opening Times
Due to popular demand Stonehenge will be open to visitors on the 26th December 2009 and 1st January 2010 between 10am and 4pm. Groups do not need to pre-book their visit. Stone Circle Access visits will not be available.
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