Sunday, June 24, 2007

SUMMER SOLSTICE THIS YEAR AT STONEHENGE

Because I'm the author of Stonehenge, a young adult book written with Cambridge Don Caroline Malone, I'm always intereted in how many and how "crazy" the solstice event is on June 21 each year. (Stonehenge is published by Oxford University Press $24.50 and available on Amazon. com).

For 2007, the count is more than 24,000. To quote the news story: "At 4:58 am, following an all-night party on Salisbury Plain, dawn broke on the summer solstice over the 5,000-year-old stone circle, one of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world ... people from druids to fans heading for a nearby music festival hailed the sun rising on the longest day of the year Thursday at the ancient Stonehenge monument."

"Revellers wearing antlers, black cloaks and oak leaves" were on hand to watch the sunrise which, according to English Heritage's spokeswoman, "was not very spectacular this year because of cloud." English Heritage, which runs the site, said numbers swelled above the 20,000 they expected because people joined the party on their way to the Glastonbury music festival, which begins Friday in a farm in nearby Somerset.

It's good to know that another Summer Solstice party took place at the complex of ancient stones in Avebury, 25 miles north of Stonehenge. If you plan a trip to the west of England don't neglect Avebury, that in many ways is more spectacular than Stonehenge. At Avebury you can still walk amongst the stones that are wonderfully shaped. Nearby antiquities include Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow.

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