Before sunrise on 21st December, thousands of people gathered at Stonehenge to mark the Winter Solstice. This year, the date also coincided with the end of the Mayan calendar.
The Winter Solstice is one of the only times that the public are allowed into the stone circle itself and it is a very special time, marking the shortest day of the year.
Arch Druid of the standing stones in Wiltshire, Rollo Maughfling, led the celebrations in the inner circle of Stonehenge before the sun was welcomed in just after 8am with cheers and the sound of horns.
At 11.11am, Senior Druid, King Arthur Pendragon and his Priestess Calliope Muse issued a statement – The Stonehenge Message – calling on the peoples and leaders of the world to unite behind their call for world peace, an end to economic slavery and a ‘greener’ planet: “There is an opportunity for ‘A Brave New Dawn’,” they said.
Peter Carson, Head of Stonehenge at English Heritage said: “over 5000 people celebrated the winter solstice at Stonehenge this morning. The weather was particularly fine and the ancient stones were bathed in beautiful winter sunshine.”
“It was a great success and the atmosphere was good natured. English Heritage would like to thank everyone involved in organising the celebrations.”