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Stonehenge Winter Solstice Turnout Reduced by Weather-related Traffic Chaos

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Bianca Markos
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« on: January 01, 2010, 07:33:53 am »


Stonehenge Winter Solstice Turnout Reduced by Weather-related Traffic Chaos
Submitted by MalcolmJ on Tue, 12/22/2009 - 20:11

Most of you won’t have relished venturing out from under the duvet at all on this snowy Tuesday morning, let alone doing it before the break of dawn. But around 600 intrepid souls were up before the birds today, and wrapped in the their woollens in time to trudge out into the middle of a frozen Wiltshire field for the rising of the sun shortly after 8am, and the celebration of the winter solstice at Stonehenge.

Attendance at the event – a chilled-out, smaller-scale alternative to the much headier summer solstice – is usually a lot higher (2000 people turned out in 2008), but weather-related travel chaos in the south of England must have prevented many from making the journey. Spirits were high nonetheless, as the first rays broke through the icy mist, and were greeted with customary chanting and dancing.

Pagans in full bonkers regalia were, as ever, out in force for what represents one of the key dates on their calendar, an occasion which – according to archaeologists currently researching at nearby related site Durrington Walls – was thousands of years ago marked by the sacrificing and roasting of hundreds of cattle and pigs. Also in attendance at the 2009 Stonehenge winter solstice was a healthy swathe of much more normal-looking observers – regulars note that the event has become an increasingly popular public spectacle in recent years.

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Bianca Markos
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2010, 07:34:38 am »



The public enjoy a rare - if chily - chance to see Stonehenge up close at the winter solstice. Picture by akhen3sir.
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Bianca Markos
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2010, 07:36:11 am »

Pagans Have More Fun

Guardian journalist Steven Morris’s quizzing of some of the non-Druidic element of the assembled throng revealed a plethora of reasons for the winter solstice piquing peoples’ interest. Among them seemed to be a desire to experience something rootsy and traditional, yet also out-of-the-ordinary, in the ever-more-commercial festive season.

“We're here for an anti-religious reason, if any,” said Alison Marcetic from Birmingham, who had travelled to Stonehenge with her husband and her two young children. “Pagans seem to have more fun so we’d thought we’d give it a go. We’ll be celebrating Christmas but this is about showing the children that this season isn’t just about getting presents. What goes on here is more basic, more tangible.”

Jill, a Stonehenge regular, visited the winter solstice with her 10-year-old daughter Jasmine. “For us this time of year is about starting to come out of the dark,” she commented. “It’s a very positive time of year. I think people who aren’t pagans come here to enjoy that feeling too.” As a mum and gran, she’ll be celebrating Christmas as well, albeit reluctantly. “I don’t have much choice,” she added, “but we do it as modestly as possible.”
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Bianca Markos
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2010, 07:37:02 am »

Seasonal Feasting, Prehistoric-Style

It’s turkeys that traditionally get carved-up on the Christmas dinner tables of families such as Alison’s and Jill’s around this time of year in Britain. But it seems that there were once other animals that had reason to fear December coming round too.

Stonehenge Riverside Project director Mike Parker Pearson – who spoke to Heritage Key a while back about progress at the ongoing and thus-far remarkably successful archaeological investigation he leads – recently revealed that large quantities of pig and cattle bones have been discovered among other remains at Durrington Walls, an inter-linking companion site to Stonehenge.

4,500 years back the Stonehenge landscape was apparently a scene of heady celebration and ritual feasting at the solstices.

“Occupation and consumption were intense,” Parker Pearson wrote in a report, quoted by Discovery News. The animal remains were found alongside pottery, flint arrowheads and lithic debris. It seems that Durrington Walls and Stonehenge were the scenes of pockets of intense activity, as prehistoric people celebrated and gorged at very specific times of year. “The small quantities of stone tools other than arrowheads, the absence of grinding querns and the lack of carbonised grain indicate that this was a ‘consumer’ site,” Parker Pearson continued. “The midsummer and midwinter solstice alignments of the Durrington and Stonehenge architecture suggest seasonal occupation.”
 
The animals were apparently driven from hundreds of miles around to be slaughtered immediately at Durrington Walls in time for the winter solstice. Considering the treacherous travel conditions currently thwarting transport up and down the UK, the pagans of 2009 can be thankful that tradition has long since died out.


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Bianca Markos
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2010, 07:37:59 am »



Archdruid Rollo Maughfling performs a ritual winter solstice ceremony. Picture by akhen3s
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Bianca Markos
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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2010, 07:38:30 am »

About The AuthorMalcolm JackMalcolm Jack

Malcolm Jack is a freelance arts and entertainment journalist based in Glasgow, Scotland. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2004 with an MA Honours Degree in History.

Last three pieces by this author: Life of Adventure - Opening one of the Sarcophagi discovered at Gisr el-Muder, Saqqara, Treasures from KV62 - King Tut's Funerary Figures, Missing In Action: 5 Armies That Vanished From H
http://heritage-key.com/blogs/malcolmj/stonehenge-winter-solstice-turnout-reduced-weather-related-traffic-chaos
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