Stonehenge Summer Solstice Sunrise

Walking amongst the towering remains of Stonehenge was a profoundly spiritual (in the modern, alcohol-soaked, sense) experience. Surrounded by thousands of people and hundreds of portaloos, the site was eerily lit by floodlights. Walking closer, the blueish tint of the rocks gave way to elongated and bizarre shadows. Gradually the music grew louder. Inside the stone circle itself, (wannabe) druids formed rhythmic drum circles and the air was rent with their chants. We pushed our way into the crowds of spectators, relishing the body heat even as we could see the clouds of our breath forming.

Couples curled up in blankets on the rough ground and long-skirted hippies with eyes like mirrors stroked the stones. Queues stretched in front of the vegan burger stall. Teenage girls flirted through their aluminium heat jackets with the ambulance staff. Elderly gentlemen stood watching the spectacle with sober reverence.

As the sky began to glow with an almost greenish hue, we found ourselves drawn into the midst of the circle and slipping through mud to reach a spot on one of the few fallen rocks. Gradually, inevitably, the sky lightened. The rocks lost their tinge, the crowd quietened and the air warmed. A crimson crescent surfaced between the arches and slowly soared above the trees. At long last, it was followed by the sun, heavy with the weight of the clouds but not obscured.

The rest of the day followed in a haze of heat, yoga and cider. We lay in fields watching kestrels and swifts swirl above us. Dancing was held in the campsite barn to the tune of Irish folk. The nearby stream provided a much needed, icy respite from the sun and so many of the campers spent hours bathing, preferring Death-by-Mosquito to sunstroke. When at last the evening cooled to a bearable level and cardigans began to appear, the campsite organised a spectacle of drums and fire throwing. It all added to the air of pseudo-hippie-ness and I liked it.

Some of the more regular summer solstice goers claimed that it had been years since it was last possible to see a successful sunrise. Privileged we were to witness such a spectacle, the sunrise and all its accompaniments.

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