2003 - Looks like a pattern emerging

First an apology. Due to technical problems I have not been able to grab stills from the video recording I made this year. I'm still trying to work the problem out but in the mean time I have uploaded some images taken with a digital camera - larger versions of which are available on the downloads page linked below.


This year I arrived later than in previous years. I had invited my daughter and a family friend to join me and I thought they may find it a little too much getting up at three in the morning. So as it was we were panicking a little in case we missed the magic moment, but not to worry we made it in time to witness a glorious, glorious sunrise.

The first thing that struck us as we walked from Amesbury and came in to our first view of Stonehenge, was the sheer number of people that surrounded the stones. An incredible scene, as if the monument was standing on an undulating cloth of black.

Surprisingly we passed a large number of people leaving the area before the sunrise with many whom, going by what they were wearing (in one case boob tube, miniskirt and high heels), must have thought it was a good idea to come down after night 'clubbing' it ... and, by the comments overheard, not been particularly impressed.

The nearer we got to the stones the more another worrying aspect appeared.

For the first time there didn't appear to be any rubbish bags available, either that or so many people turned up that the usual free bags supplied by English Heritage had run out. The amount of rubbish left lying around, much of it hazardous to other visitors and animals in the form of empty bottles, was disheartening to say the least. For crying out loud people, just remember if you bring it with you then you should take it away. Have some respect for the place you are visiting!

All of this negative feeling was removed though as the sun eventually tipped the horizon when various cheers, whoops and generally noise rose up from the gathered crowd - including a voice that couldn't be more English in asking us to cry, 'Three cheers for the Solstice. Hip-hip, hooray, hip-hip, hooray, hip-hip hooray!" The sun, the sky, the clouds moved through a myriad of colours as the dawn broke on a clear day and for a few moments it was breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking ...

In the end as my daughter, Katy, and our friend, Tom, wended our way home - walking around amongst the varied crowd of hippies, suburban families, druids, clubbers, pagans, tourists, and the just plain curious - she told me that she intends to return next year with her friends, while I said I may well head for Avebury for a change. I also suggested to her that they'd best bring an umbrella each, "As it looks like a pattern emerging on the weather front, with the best sunrises appearing on an odd numbered year and rain on the evens."

Well take a look and tell me, what do you think?

Regards, Neil
August, 2003

Please note:
The times are actually correct as I finally adjusted my video clock to British Summer Time!

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.