Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2010

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Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2010 - PHOTOGRAPHER COMMENT

21st June, 2010, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when 20,000 revellers, including Druids, Morris Dancers, Sikhs and Hare Krishnas, gathered at Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain to witness the sunrise.
Stonehenge was built between 3100 – 1100 BC. with the stone circle aligned with the midsummer sunrise, the midwinter sunset, and the most southerly rising and northerly setting of the moon.
(Photo © D. Etherington)

Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2010 - FURTHER INFORMATION

Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2010 - Salisbury visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2010' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Wiltshire.

Stonhenge is one of the most famous, and most important, prehistoric monuments in the world. Standing in a field not far from Salisbury in Wiltshire, Stonehenge is one of the top tourist attraction in England. Hundreds of thousands flock to see these enigmatic stones, drawn by the hidden meaning from aeons past. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and listed as one of the Seven Wonders of Britain.

Stonehenge is far more than a circle of standing stones. It is thought that construction of the entire site, which includes several hundred burial mounds, earth circles as well as the Stonehege stones, was probably built over several phases.

Stonehenge - The Mystery

The mystery of Stonehenge is that no-one is totally sure why it was built, why the builders took stones from as far away as Wales, and what it was built for. There are many theories, some quite fantastical, but the people who built Stonehenge left no records. The site contains countless burial mounds leading to contradictory theories as it being either a 'city of the dead' or a place of healing. It is also proposed that Stonehenge was a place of worship, a celestial temple with the stones set in specific orientation.

Stonehenge - Visiting

Since 1977 the stones of Stonehenge have been roped off to prevent damage and erosion. Visitors can explore the explanatory visitor center and then walk to within a short distance of the stones. Special access is given to the stone circles during the summer and winter solstice, and the spring and autumn equinox. At other times, special Stonehenge Access tours can be booked through English Heritage.

Entrance to Stonehenge is ticketed and entrance fees apply. English Heritage members can enter for free. The opening times vary with the seasons.

Stonehenge - Construction

It is now thought that the construction of Stonehenge occurred over several distinct phases:
  • Stonehenge - Phase 1: ca. 3100 BC, during this time the large earthwork (henge), ditch and bank of Stonehenge was built along with the Aubrey holes. The 56 pits , 1m round and 1m deep, form a circle just inside the henge. It is thought that the holes may have been used to create a bluestone circle.
  • Stonehenge - Phase 2: ca. 3000 BC, parts of the ditches silted up and it is thought that some form of timber structure was built within the enclosure. There are a number of post-holes, about 0.4m diameter, within the circle. Evidence also suggests that some of the Aubrey holes were used for burial and, in some cases, cremation.
  • Stonehenge - Phase 3: This phase is the longest and most complicated, spanning some 1,500 years. It is often broken down into distinct sub-phases:
    • Stonehenge - Phase 3 I: ca. 2600 BC, the wooden structure is removed and a ring of up to 80 standing stones installed. The bluestones used are thought either to have been transported from Preseli Hills in modern-day Pembrokeshire, or glacial erratics deposited much closer by the Irish Sea Glacier. Other monolithic stones come from various other sources, used as large standing stones and lintels, each weighing up to 4 tonnes.
    • Stonehenge - Phase 3 II: 2600 BC to 2400 BC, enormous Oligocene-Miocene sarsen stones are brought to Stonehenge, dressed with mortise and tenon joints. 30 stones are stood in a circle 33m across and surmounted by lintel stones. Each standing stone is about 4.1 metres high and 2.1 metres, weighing around 25 tons. Inside this circle were placed five trilithons of dressed sarsen stone, each weighing 50 tons, arranged in a semi circle and decorated with dagger and axe head motifs.
    • Stonehenge - Phase 3 III: Late Bronze Age, it appears the bluestones may have been trimmed and re-erected within the circle of outer sarsen stones, possibly with lintels.
    • Stonehenge - Phase 3 IV: 2280 BC to 1930 BC, bluestones rearranged again in a circle between the two rings of sarsen stone. All the stones stand upright without lintels. The Altar Stone was moved within the oval at this time and re-erected vertically. The newly-placed blues stones were not well grounded and soon begin to tilt.
    • Stonehenge - Phase 3 V: 1930 BC to 1600 BC, some of the blue stones erected in the northeastern section during phase 3 IV are removed creating a horseshoe shape, similar to the shape found at Seahenge site in Norfolk from the similar era.
  • Stonehenge - 1600 BC on: from this time on little is changed within the site, and some artefacts throughout various time periods (like Roman coins and a decapitated 7th century Saxon man) show the site was known about and visited if not used for religious or other purposes.

Stonehenge Through the Ages

Stonehenge passed through various hands throughout the centuries before finally being brought for £6,600 by Cecil Chubb in 1915 and given to the nation in 1917. Buildings began to encroach on the site and a nationwide appeal resulted in the surrounding land and Stonehenge itself being brought and given to English Heritage in 1928. Thereafter there have been extensive restoration works to preserve and excavate the site. Stonehenge is now open to the public, and is still regarded as a religious place by neo-pagans and druids. It often draws large crowds during the summer and winter Solstice.


near Amesbury, Wiltshire
Phone: 0870 333 1181


Bus: Stonehenge Tour Bus from Salisbury Railway and Bus station.
Road: Stonehenge is 2 miles west of Amesbury and 9 miles north of Salisbury on the junction of A303 and A344/A360

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