I’ve put together some of the photos from previous winter solstices at Stonehenge. As long as the world doesn’t end this winter solstice I’ll hopefully get to a few more in the future.

One of the great things about the mid-winter celebration at Stonehenge is that there is free access to the stone circle itself. You don’t have to stay behind the ropes.

It’s perhaps only when you’re within the stone circle that you appreciate the bulk and heft of the stones. Pictures like this one – looking up at one of the lintels remind me of that, but a picture can never really communicate it properly.

A Trilithon looming overhead
Salisbury to Stonehenge Winter Solstice - Snowman I met this chap on the way from Salisbury to Stonehenge for the solstice of 2010 (the One Where it Snowed), probably in one of the Woodfords. My guess is he was no longer there for the summer solstice.
Another one from The Year It Snowed. If you’re there in time for ‘opening’, when English Heritage open the gates and allow people on to the Stonehenge site, then you walk in the gloom across the field from the northern end Salisbury to Stonehenge Winter Solstice - The Stones
Stonehenge_Winter_Solstice_henge Taken just before sunrise. The stones look relatively haphazard in this picture.
This is early on at the Solstice celebration. This snap is taken alongside one of the trilithons[1] looking across Stonehenge to the others.

I like the way the flash illuminated the stone I’m standing next to, but Sarsens on the other side of the circle are dark. I could understand if people objected to the use of flash at Stonehenge on solstice morning, but I’ve never found it intrusive, personally. One of my meomories of approaching Stonehenge last year was not being able to see the Stones until they were suddenly illuminated by a flashgun. It was dramatic.

Stonehenge Winter Solstice Murky but recognizable
Stonehenge Winter Solstice between trilithons This is another of my favourites. A combination of poor technique and poor equipment occasionally produces a photo I’m really happy with. This is one of them – it’s the gap between two trilithons.
Looking towards the Sunrise through both sides of Stonehenge Stonehenge_Winter_Solstice_Sunrise
Stonehenge Winter Solstice - sunrise I’ve used this photo a lot – on several posts and as the header image on the Salisbury and Stonehenge Facebook page. You can get this sort of nonsense in your Facebook timeline if you go and ‘Like’ the page.

From an archaelogical point of view the photo is meaningless, as far as I’m aware. I’ve just take the picture at an angle which frames the sunrise between two of the Stonehenge sarsens.

Mucking about on Solstice morning. I must have decided I’d taken enough photo’s of ancient stones at this point. I wouldn’t have taken off my glove for very long. Winter Solstice on Salisbury Plain
A photo from the Year It Was Foggy. I’ve been to the winter solstice three times and I’ve only seen the sun come up once.

On the foggy winter solstice, we’d turned off onto the slip road (A358?) and still couldn’t see Stonehenge because of the fog. As we were walking up the slip road, some Druidical drums started, we both looked up at the same time and the fog lifted slightly. Stonehenge , which was quite close, suddenly loomed out of the fog. A magical moment.

Stonehenge - a foggy winter solstice
People in pink hats at stonehenge winter solstice Another photo from The Year It Was Foggy. You might need to click on the photo here to get a view of what’s going on. The people sat on the ground here were making a sort of music with glass bowls. It was on a similar principle to running your finger around the rim of a wine-glass and it makes a similar noise but much LOUDER. I’ve seem somebody do something similar at last year’s solstice, but on a much smaller scale. I don’t know what the spiritual significance of this is, if any, but it makes a great noise. Also not sure why many of them were wearing pink hats.
Another odd tribe – a few of the media who turned out to cover Winter Solstice last year.

There’s usually some coverage in the press – I think it’s a slow news time.

TV Crews at Stone Henge for midwinter solstice
Stonehenge_Winter_Solstice_Trilithon_half_lt This photo of Stonehenge was taken just after sun rise. The stone on the left is comparatively dark in colour, but the stone on the right has a golden glow. The sun is shining on one side of the trilithon, but another stone is casting it’s shadow on its twin.
I love this photo. It’s lichen growing on one of the Stonehenge Sarsens, taken very close up with a slash. The lichen reminds me of sea-weed on the sea floor. Lichen on Stonehenge
Salisbury to Stonehenge Winter Solstice - There are people in the Henge Depending on the weather, there are a few hundred people at Stonehenge for winter solstice, maybe more. It can be crowded within the stone circle itself – especially while ‘King Arthur Pendragon’ is doing his stuff.
Stonehenge Winter Solstice in the snow …But if you step outside the circle there’s space to walk around.
This pic is still from within the Stonehenge site. I think it shows that you don’t need to get far away from Stonehenge for the people to seem insignificant next to the size of the stones. Perhaps Stonehenge was one of the first man-made structures to make people seem insignificant. Stonehenge Winter Solstice 3
Stonehenge Winter Solstice - the ditch I’ve never managed to get a decent (or even half decent) photo of the ditch that surrounds Stonehenge, but I’ve got a certain fondness for the ditch.

Thinking too hard about Stonehenge can sometimes make your brain hurt, but the ditch seems more human-scaled – you can imagine it being dug.

I always feel a little sad at this point – looking back at Stonehenge on my way back to Amesbury.

Having said which, it’s a nice walk back and much easier in day light than it is at night time!

Stonehenge Winter Solstice - looking back at the Stones
Stonehenge Winter Solstice Old Kings Barrow This is a particularly rubbish photo, but if you look closely you might be able to make out that it’s not just a photo of trees – there’s a barrow amongst them[2]. The trees and the barrow looked really striking during the night on the walk from Amesbury to Stonehenge. It really stood out in the moonlight, but sadly neither my camera nor my photographic skills were up to capturing it.
This old straight track leads back from Stonehenge to Amesbury, and to a sit-down and a cup of coffee.

I think it’s a six mile walk all-in-all, and you’re on your feet all the time you are at Stonehenge, so the sitting-down is something to look forward too.

Stonehenge_Winter_Solstice_Old_Straight_Track
Stonehenge Winter Solstice - clonehenge I’m a keen follower of the Clonehenge website, which is about Stonehenge replicas. This probably doesn’t meet the exacting quality control rules of hengi-ness for that website, but it could perhaps count as an ‘accidental Clonehenge’. This is at the bottom of the track which leads from the A-something-or-other across Salisbury Plain to the barrows and eventually to Stonehenge. It looks quite appropriate.

Footnotes

  1. A trilithon is the upright-lintel-upright arrangement of stones which looks like a door-frame, or pi or a mystic portal depending on your viewpoint []
  2. A barrow is a burial mound. On Ordnance survey maps they are called tumuli. I’m currently reading Aubrey Burl’s book ‘Stonehenge’ – he says that they would originally have been covered in chalk, so they would have stood out bright white against the green landscape. I’m not entirely sure whether this is known for a fact – I’m not sure whether we know for sure they weren’t turfed over or covered in mud. I may have misunderstood []

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