Pagans Flock to Stonehenge Solstice

Welcome to the longest day of the year

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 21, 2010 7:13 AM CDT

(Newser) – Thousands of New Agers and neo-pagans danced and whooped in delight this morning as a bright early morning sun rose above the ancient stone circle Stonehenge, marking the summer solstice. About 20,000 alternative-minded revelers crowded the prehistoric site in southern England to see the 4:52am (11:52pm ET) sunrise, following an annual all-night party. They waited for dawn at the Heel Stone, a pockmarked pillar just outside the main circle that aligns with the rising sun.

Unlike previous recent years, when the sunrise has been obscured by cloud, the bright sun bathed the monument in orange and gold today. As the sun rose, a woman climbed a rock in the circle center and blew a horn, welcoming in the longest day of the year north of the equator. Drums, tambourines, and cheers reverberated in the background. "One time in maybe 10 we get a decent sunrise," said a volunteer for English Heritage, which manages the site, "and that was a good one."

People dance as they celebrate the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, early Monday, June 21, 2010.
People dance as they celebrate the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, early Monday, June 21, 2010.   (Lefteris Pitarakis)
People dance as they celebrate the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, Monday, June 21, 2010.
People dance as they celebrate the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, Monday, June 21, 2010.   (Lefteris Pitarakis)
A woman reflects as she touches part of the Stonehenge monument, England, celebrating the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am, early Monday, June 21, 2010.
A woman reflects as she touches part of the Stonehenge monument, England, celebrating the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am, early Monday, June 21, 2010.   (Lefteris Pitarakis)
People raise their hands meditating during the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, early Monday, June 21, 2010.
People raise their hands meditating during the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, early Monday, June 21, 2010.   (Lefteris Pitarakis)
The sun is rising behind the Stonehenge monument in England, during the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am, early Monday, June 21, 2010.
The sun is rising behind the Stonehenge monument in England, during the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am, early Monday, June 21, 2010.   (Lefteris Pitarakis)
People raise their hands meditating during the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, early Monday, June 21, 2010.
People raise their hands meditating during the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, early Monday, June 21, 2010.   (Lefteris Pitarakis)
People dance as they celebrate the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, early Monday, June 21, 2010.
People dance as they celebrate the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, early Monday, June 21, 2010.   (Lefteris Pitarakis)
People raise their hands meditating during the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, early Monday, June 21, 2010.
People raise their hands meditating during the summer solstice shortly after 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, early Monday, June 21, 2010.   (Lefteris Pitarakis)
People wait for the sunrise to celebrate the summer solstice shortly before 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, Monday, June 21, 2010.
People wait for the sunrise to celebrate the summer solstice shortly before 04:52 am at the Stonehenge monument, England, Monday, June 21, 2010.   (Lefteris Pitarakis)
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