The Summer Solstice – Where Did You Celebrate?
Last week was the summer solstice. Across the length and breadth of Britain, thousands of people went out of their way to celebrate the longest day of the year.
Stonehenge saw around 9,500 people welcome the appearance of the first rays of the sun from behind the Heel Stone at 04:52 BST. The summer solstice is one of the few occasions when English Heritage remove the barriers surrounding the Neolithic stones and permit direct public access. The thousands who spent the night there last week made the most of it: photographs show colourfully-attired people practising yoga in the shade of the stones, curled up sleeping beneath them or simply admiring the spectacular sunrise.
While Stonehenge has been a traditional focus of Solstice celebrations for thousands of years, there are plenty of other places to celebrate.
For something slightly left-field, Milton Keynes might have the answer. During construction of the town, its designers realised that the main street aligned almost completely with the sun as it rose on the summer solstice. A little sweet-talking later and the engineers responsible for construction had been persuaded to move the road by a few degrees to ensure it provided a perfect frame for the sun on that significant date.
However, if the Neolithic is your thing, why not try Orkney’s Ring of Brodgar? Older even than Stonehenge, the Ring of Brodgar enjoys a spectacular loch-side setting and, thanks to Scotland’s long summer days, there’s even more daylight in which to explore the surrounding area.
If Orkney’s a little too far, Stonehenge has a nearby and much less famous neighbour: Woodhenge. Alternatively, the Lake District is an excellent place to visit in search of the Neolithic. The Cockpit, on the wind-blown slopes above Ullswater, is widely regarded as one of the UK’s best prehistoric stone circles.