Thursday, 3 July 2014

Touching Stonehenge

normal_Stonehenge Remember this? Well, technically I believe everyone who has used Windows laptops or desktops would have seen this classic wallpaper someway or another.

Stonehenge is nothing more than the remains of a ring of standing stones from the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Open to visitors throughout the year (except Christmas and Solstice), the stones are cordon off and visitors could only see them from a distance. Touching Stonehenge is only possible during the Winter and Summer Solstice when all barriers are removed. Winter Solstice is the shortest day in the year which falls on 22nd of December whilst Summer Solstice is the longest day in the year and it occurs on 21st of June.

As an ancient prayer ground, Stonehenge has free access to the public during the solstice. Thousands throng the grounds each year during solstice for a chance to see and touch the stones. And this year, I contributed to the number.

During the solstice, special local shuttles are available from Salisbury and the fares are relatively reasonable. A return ticket cost £10. Arriving at the visitor centre, everyone is expected to walk at least 20 minutes to the stones. The shuttle runs until 1am and the return shuttle starts operating from 4.30am in the next morning. So technically, everyone spends the night under the stars. Although it’s June, spending the night in the open is no joke. It felt very much like winter.

The crowd in the inner circle of the stones
Stonehenge in the middle of the night
Entertainment of the night
Several rows of portaloo and stalls selling food and hot drinks were set up. But well, everything was overpriced. A regular hot chocolate was £3. In the cold with freezing wind, the makeshift food stalls were milking money out of everyone.
The first light of day
Breaking dawn

After an endless hours of freezing in the cold, day break was finally here.  Watching the sun rise over the stones, it was mesmorising. Starting with an orange glow, the sun slowly rises above the horizon into an orange blob on the sky, piercing through the gaps of the stone. The Stonehenge is built in a magnificent way that the sun rays will shine through the gaps of the stones.

An orange glow from behind the stone
Watching the sun rising from the horizon
Caught the reflection of the stones when a lady held her crystal ball up
Touching the stones because I can!
After the sunrise, the crowd begin to disperse to their cars and the visitor centre for a ride back to Salisbury. Despite the long trail of crowd, the shuttle buses were extremely efficient. Almost a bus every 2-3 minutes!
Goodbye Stonehenge
Staying the night in Stonehenge and witnessing the sunrise was an amazing experience. Instead of paying an exorbitant amount for a private time with the stones, summer solstice is a great way to get free access. Also, it was an eventful night watching rituals by pagan and druids.

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