This peculiar group of monoliths is widely known as a historical monument. However, it holds significance as an ancient astronomical observatory. The throngs of people who want to see the summer solstice at Stonehenge every year are not merely there to visit, but to be a part of tradition that spans millennia.
What is Summer Solstice?
Summer solstice usually falls between June 20th and 21st in the Northern Hemisphere, simultaneously the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.
There’s astronomical significance behind these dates, too. In the Northern Hemisphere, including continents like Europe, Asia and North America, the solstice occurs the instant the sun touches its peak northern point on the celestial sphere.
The day of the summer solstice is the day of the year when the Northern Hemisphere has the longest period of daylight. On the contrary, it is also the shortest day for the Southern Hemisphere.
Believed to be built somewhere between 3,000 and 2,000 BC, Stonehenge depicts how carefully the sun was watched and observed by our ancestors. These astronomical observations once dictated their survival and activities such as sowing crops/harvest, cattle mating/rearing, and storing up reserves during harsh winters.
Summer Solstice – Celebrations Today
With all its astronomical significance, Stonehenge, today, stands as a place to commune and mediate, particularly during the summer solstice.
Being there for the solstice and facing north-east towards the Heel Stone, a rough-hewn stone outside the circle, you can witness the spectacular sight of the sun rising above the stone.
The sight of the sunset the day before the summer solstice is also one widely enjoyed among its visitors.
Festivities abound for a couple of days so visitors can spend time taking in the ambiance and enjoying the light music (amplified music is not allowed at Stonehenge) and meditative atmosphere.
The stones and their architectural significance have been acclaimed and argued about for generations, but it is believed they have healing properties. Although visitors are no longer allowed to touch the stones, Stonehenge has remained a global monument of significance for its culturally rich history.
Campsites around the grounds offer a vibrant atmosphere for visitors to stay a few days to take in this entire astronomical experience and architectural spectacle.
If you’re passing through the UK, Stonehenge tours from London offered by City Wonders take you there with a traditional English lunch in the town of Bath.