Friday, 21 June 2013

Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2013: 20,000 Celebrate Ahead Of Heritage Site Renovation

More than 20,000 people have celebrated the summer solstice at Stonehenge ahead of a "historic moment" in the £27 million transformation of the site. The huge gathering of people marked the event in a "positive, friendly atmosphere" as they waited for the sun to come up, but cloudy skies prevented them from basking in a beautiful sunrise.
summer solstice at stonehenge
Crowds gather at dawn amongst the stones at Stonehenge in Wiltshire for the Summer SolsticeThis year there have been a lower number of arrests compared with previous years, with 22 taken into custody mainly in relation to drugs offences, police said. Superintendent Matt Pullen from Wiltshire Police said: "Solstice 2013 has been a great success with approximately 21,000 people celebrating in the positive, friendly atmosphere as they waited for sunrise.

"The weather held but unfortunately the cloud cover was too dense to see the sun come up." He added: "The majority of people respected the conditions of entry and the amnesty bins provided were used. Approximately 70 cannabis street warnings were issued. As with previous years, the passive drugs dogs proved very effective. The success of the event depends largely on the good nature of those attending and we are pleased that people could enjoy solstice in the spirit of the event. Wiltshire Police worked closely with partners and in particular English Heritage to ensure that everyone had a safe and happy solstice."
A section of the road running alongside the neolithic monument will be permanently closed on Monday June 24 as part of a long-awaited refurbishment of the World Heritage Site. The closure and grassing over of the A344 will reconnect Stonehenge with the landscape, allowing visitors to walk between the stone circle and the prehistoric avenue from which people would have once approached the monument.
It is part of works which include the creation of a new visitor centre around 1.5 miles away from the monument, with a cafe, shop and museum showing artefacts and exploring theories about Stonehenge, as well as three replica neolithic houses. Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge director at English Heritage, said the closure of the road was "a real milestone in terms of the history of the site".
summer solstice at stonehenge
Revellers celebrate ahead of the site's 27m refurbishment

She said that although Stonehenge never failed to impress visitors, the setting of the stones had marred people's appreciation and enjoyment of the site. English Heritage had wanted to close the road since it was nominated as a World Heritage site and inscribed in 1986, she said. "It really is a historic moment," she added.
In the first stage, the road immediately adjacent to the stones will be closed, and work will begin to remove tarmac and grass it over. Once the visitor centre currently under construction opens in December, a longer section of the A344 between Stonehenge and the new facilities will be shut to traffic and become the route for visitors walking or travelling by shuttle to the stones.
The cramped existing car parking and visitor facilities, first built in 1968, next to the monument will be removed and the area returned to grass. Knowles said: "When you are in Stonehenge in the future, when grass is established, you will be able to make the link between the monument and the rest of the heritage landscape to the north, accessing the avenue, the route by which the monument was approached when it was used as a place of great ceremony."
Closing the road was "absolutely fundamental to all the improvements we're making to the setting of the monument and all the improvements we are making to the visitor experience ", she said. The site gets more than one million visitors a year. Barb and Rick Oddy, from Vancouver, Canada, visiting on a coach tour just before the solstice, agreed that closing the road to link up the landscape was a good thing.
Oddy said of the monument: "It's amazing. I can't decide which theory I believe and I think it's amazing how they (the stones) got here from Wales." But concerns have been raised that the changes to the site will adversely affect coach tours, which come to Stonehenge as one of a series of destinations, with suggestions operators may bypass the site because of the extra time involved in transferring groups from a more distant visitor centre by shuttle to the monument.
The busy A303, which runs on the other side of Stonehenge, will remain as plans to put the road into a tunnel proved too expensive. The refurbishment was due to be finished in time for the London Olympics, but was delayed as a result of Government cuts which left English Heritage seeking to fill a £10 million funding gap. It was met by an increased grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources.

PA/Huffington Post UK:

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Monday, 10 June 2013

English Heritage Prepares For Summer Solstice At Stonehenge

The English Heritage is preparing for the arrival of thousands of gatherers at Stonehenge for this years Summer Solstice on the 20 - 21st June. Stonehenge is an ancient prehistoric site in Wiltshire and has been seen as a place of worship and celebration for millennia. Special preparations are underway including changes to visitor opening hours and road closures to ensure public safety and the protection of the site itself.

Summer Solstice At Stonehenge

Last year the event proved hugely popular, with druids and pagans flocking to the site despite overcast skies, wind and rain. BBC reporter Will Walder described the experience ''It was wet, misty and muddy but there was an atmosphere that something really special was about to happen. People were whistling and cheering and then falling silent before starting again. Tambourines and drums were being played but then at 4:52 am people were looking from left to right to try to see the sun and had to resort to watches and mobile phones to mark the moment".
The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year and is celebrated by pagans across the world. The Solstice usually falls in the northern hemisphere on the 21st June each year.
Stonhenge is estimated to have been constructed around 3900 BC. It is believed that the three phases of construction took over 30 million hours of labour to achieve. Speculation for the reason behind its construction varies from human sacrifice to astronomy.

Link Article: Oxford Royale Academy:

Stonehenge Tour Guide

Saturday, 1 June 2013


CONDITIONS OF ENTRY AND INFORMATION Stonehenge is an ancient pre-historic site. It has been a place of worship and celebration at the time of Summer Solstice since time immemorial.  English Heritage is pleased to be providing Managed Open Access to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice. Please help us to create a peaceful occasion by taking personal responsibility and following the Conditions of Entry and guidelines set out below. We have a duty of care to ensure public safety and are responsible for the protection of Stonehenge and its surrounding Monuments. If we are to ensure that future access is sustainable, it is essential that everyone observes and abides by these Conditions of Entry.
During the Summer Solstice access to Stonehenge, we support all individuals and groups conducting their own forms of ceremony and celebration providing that they are mutually respectful and tolerant of one another. It is a place seen by many as a sacred site – therefore please respect it and those attending.

English Heritage continues to work closely with the many agencies and people from all sectors of the community and would like to thank them for their help and support.

Parking and entry to the Monument will be free, subject to the Conditions of Entry. Please do not arrive at the Solstice Car Park or Stonehenge in advance of the opening times listed below: SOLSTICE CAR PARK OPENS 1900 hours (7pm) Thursday 20th June
ACCESS TO STONEHENGE 1900 hours (7pm) Thursday 20th June
LAST ADMISSION TO SOLSTICE CAR PARK 0600 hours (6am) Friday 21st June
STONEHENGE CLOSES 0800 hours (8am) Friday 21st June
SOLSTICE CAR PARK TO BE VACATED 1200 hours (12 Noon) Friday 21st June

Sunset on Thursday 20th June 2013 is at 2126 hrs (9.26pm)

Sunrise on Friday 21st June 2013 is at 0452 hrs (4.52am)

SECTION I – PLANNING YOUR VISIT: What (and what not!) to bring with you Travelling to Stonehenge Parking Facilities

SECTION 2 – ONCE YOU ARE AT STONEHENGE: Conditions of Entry Admission to Stonehenge Facilities Welfare Rubbish Disposal For your Safety In case of emergency

SECTION 3 – OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION: Visit Wiltshire Website Local Camping Facilities Tourist Information Centres Stonehenge Summer Solstice Website Stonehenge Summer Solstice Information Hotline Map 3


In this section: What (and what not!) to bring with you Travelling to Stonehenge Parking facilities

What (and what not!) to bring with you

When thinking about what to bring with you, remember your personal possessions are your responsibility and you will have to carry them with you at all times. Therefore, travel as light as you can. Large bags or large rucksacks will not be allowed at the Monument although small bags and rucksacks (similar size to hand luggage on airlines) will be permitted. • Think carefully about what valuables you normally carry and leave all non-essential items at home. Whilst there is a lost property system, the nature of the access means that if you drop/mislay something in the Solstice Car Park or at Stonehenge it might not be easily found or handed in. If you are bringing your mobile phone with you please keep it safe. Think of the hassle you would have if you lost it, or it was stolen. • Glass is not allowed at the Monument as many people walk barefoot and, in addition, livestock and wildlife also graze in the area. If you bring any glass items with you, they will be confiscated. This also includes any other objects that could cause damage to the Monument or people there. No plastic bottles will be available for decanting purposes. • Please do not bring dogs, pets or other creatures – they are not permitted into Stonehenge, with the exception of registered assistance dogs. Apart from potentially upsetting wildlife and stock in the area, animal faeces present a health risk to children and also to people walking barefoot. • Due to the large number of people in attendance, naked flame is extremely dangerous and it infringes local bylaws/regulations and constitutes a potential fire hazard, so please do not light any fires – this includes BBQs, flaming torches, candles, night-lights, Chinese lanterns or fireworks. • The Solstice Car Park and Stonehenge are ‘fields’ so sensible footwear is essential. • Make sure you wear and bring with you warm clothing, as despite the time of the year, the weather at Stonehenge can be very cold and damp. If rain is likely, then bring a small umbrella for personal use. Please do not wear a hi-viz jacket as this can cause confusion with the officials undertaking a safety role. • In the interests of safety, sleeping bags or duvets will not be allowed on site. Sleeping on the ground can create a trip hazard especially as much of the access is during the hours of darkness. Also, people asleep on the ground could interfere
with the work of the emergency services and hinder their ability to attend an incident. Small ground sheets and blankets will be permitted for people to sit on. If you do want to sleep during the access period, it is strongly recommended that you either return to your vehicle in the Solstice Car Park or go to one of the public gathering areas outside the Monument. • Camping (including erecting any tented structures), fires or BBQs are NOT permitted at Stonehenge, in the Solstice Car Park, or anywhere in the surrounding National Trust land. • Stonehenge is a world renowned historic Monument and it is seen by many who attend the access as a sacred site. Amplified Music is inappropriate and will not be permitted at the Monument, in the surrounding landscape or Solstice Car Park, so please do not bring any sound systems or portable amplifiers. Acoustic instruments will be permitted. • Drunken, disorderly, and anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated; ejection, possibly by the Police without return, will be the outcome. • Illegal drugs are still illegal at Stonehenge as they are anywhere else. The police will be on site during the access period and will take immediate action against anyone flouting the law. Summer Solstice is not a good time to experiment with drugs - the crowd, the noise and the sheer size of the place are likely to make any bad reaction much, much worse. As much of the access is at night, if you had a bad reaction it may be difficult to locate you to administer treatment. • Only small amounts of alcohol for personal use will be permitted on to site. Alcohol is limited to no more than the equivalent of four 500ml cans of beer/cider or 75cl of wine. No further alcohol will be permitted on subsequent re-entry. Be warned, drug/alcohol cocktails can be lethal, so please be fully of aware of what you are doing. As mentioned previously, no glass bottles are allowed on site at any time.
Travelling to Stonehenge

Stonehenge is located approximately 2½ miles (4 kms) from the town of Amesbury. The nearest bus and railway stations are in Salisbury, which is 12 miles (19 kms) away from Stonehenge. • As the roads around Stonehenge will be very busy, it is recommended that you leave your car at home and travel to Stonehenge using public transport. Trains run regularly to Salisbury from London, Bristol/Bath and Southampton and the local bus company, Salisbury Reds, will be running a special service, from Salisbury railway and bus stations to a drop-off point near Stonehenge. The buses will also stop at any recognised bus stop along the line of the route, which is via Amesbury. • This bus service will commence at 1830 hours (6.30pm) on Thursday 20th June and run regularly until 0115 hours (1.15am) on Friday 21st June. A service taking people back to Salisbury will start again at 0400 hours (4.00am) and run frequently until 0945 hours (9.45am). The collection point for the return service is in the same location as the drop-off point.

• The walk to Stonehenge from the bus drop-off/collection point is 1½ miles (approximately 2½ kms) - about a 20-30 minute walk and is through National Trust farmland. Sensible footwear might not be fashionable but is definitely advisable as the land is agricultural and the route includes some sloping ground. Also the route is not lit and you may wish to bring a small torch (not naked flame though!!). • To help you plan your journey to Stonehenge, further details on train and bus timetables and fares are available from the following links: For bus service information:
Salisbury Reds Bus Company
For train information:
South West Trains
Tel: 0845 6000 650
First Great Western Tel: 0845 7000 125
National Rail Enquiries Tel: 08457 48 49 50