2001 - What a perfect night for a sunrise - part I

At first it felt like walking in to a scene from the 'X-files'. The blinding rig lights that showed the start of the pedestrian path off the dual carriageway cast the rest of the night to pitch darkness, feeling like I was entering into a black hole behind it.

Once beyond the rig the scenery was incredible. Mist filled the valleys that surround the stones. Burial mounds rose up like islands. The clear, clear sky was a deep shade of blue. A long walk to the stones it may have been but it was certainly worth it.

As before music and song could be heard all around and as I arrived a group of Morris dancers marched down from the car park. And this was the first of the many different types of people I saw tonight. From Druids and people dressed as the Green Man, to Morris dancers and Maoris, white witches and hippies, families; young and old, there must have been thousands more here than last year.

The strange thing was that, although I remembered there being a carnival atmosphere last year, and even though there were many more here today, everything was much calmer, more expectant, as if we new it would be a perfect night for a sunrise.

All around people were being nice and friendly and this was especially poignant when the drummers, who had been pounding away most of the night, paused a few minutes before the Sun crested the horizon. Then instead of drowning everyone out as last year they waited while a group of Maoris burst in to native song. And as they finished a loud cheer went up as the Sun burst through the little cloud there was.

Apart from the walk back to Amesbury, this years highlight had to be the powered para-glider who suddenly appeared over the horizon. 'Looks like the police couldn't afford a helicopter this year' said a grinning colleague. Seeming at one point as if he might spoil the view of the sunrise, circling the the Heel Stone as he was, the pilot and his machine disappeared as suddenly as they'd arrived and we enjoyed a sight even more spectacular than in 1999.

Regards, Neil
June, 2001

Please note:
The times are still an hour behind British Summer Time as I still haven't adjusted my video clock, and probably never will now.

Text and images, except drawing of Stonehenge, are © Neil Leacy.

Stonehenge illustration by Heywood Summer F.S.A. taken from the book 'Stonehenge, Today and Yesterday' by Frank Steven, published 1924.