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Solstice – The Return of the Light


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Stone Circle

Tomorrow marks the Winter Solstice. Beginning in the early morning hours, it marks the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern hemisphere. Being an event of significance in the allignment of the stones at Stonehenge, I thought this would be a good time to feature images of my visit there this past August.

The day I visited the site was a gloomy, dark one with no moments of sunshine whatsoever, so I have no iconic photos of the sun shining through the stones to show you. The crowd surrounding the stones created its own photographic challenge. I was nonetheless left in awe of their magnificence and the extraordinary feat of engineering that created the henge. Built in the Neolithic Period, between 3000 and 2000 years ago, with gigantic stones brought all the way from Wales, this accomplishment boggles the mind. And with so few clues as to its purpose and the culture that built it, it remains an intriguing and mystical glimpse into our past.

The approach to the stones was a long one. Seeing the tops of the stones appear filled me with such excitement, only to be dimmed somewhat by the enormous crowd surrounding them, everyone intent on capturing selfies.

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First Sight

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All Those Bright Dots

It took a while to circle completely around the stones, with every few steps offering up a new view and composition to contemplate. While it was disappointing to not be able to enter into the circle, it did make it easier to take photos  and to absorb the splendour of the stones unimpeded by throngs of people. Below are a few close ups and stone vignettes.

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Through the Circle

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Beyond the Stones

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Birds of a Feather

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Capstones

A full view of the stones without people was nearly impossible but the next photos come close.

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Full Circle

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Standing Stones

Some more photos from that day can be found here.

Wishing everyone here a Happy Solstice, and may the lenghtening of days bring light, joy and love into your hearts and lives.

 

 


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Castlerigg – Stone Circle


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Castlerigg Stone Circle

This past summer I travelled to England for the first time. While visions of scones, moors and Big Ben ran through my head, it was its neolithis stone circles which I was most eager to experience. They did not disappoint.

Pictured here and below is Castlerigg, one of England’s lesser known but most complete circles, in one of the most dramatic settings. Standing on a hill and surrounded by mountains in Keswick, Cumbria, near the Lake District, it is an awe inspiring sight. Dating from around 3000BC, little is known of its history, adding to the mystery and allure. It does have a solar allignment and so was most likely used in solstice rituals. It is easy to feel the weight of the past when standing amongst the stones, but mostly I felt sadness at the loss of knowledge of the civilization that built the circle.

But contemplating the past there was at times a difficult exercise, as people came by the carloads and inevitably used the stones for standing on, jumping off and taking selfies in front of. The picture below demonstrates the challenge in trying to capture the circle with the desired for reverance.

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Castlerigg playground

A full view of the circle was unattainable without people that day but these two came close.

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As you can see from the pics, the sun was reluctant to show itself that day, as was the case for much of our visit. But it did make for atmospheric photos.

The final picture below shows the entire circle in a moment of late afternoon light.

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More of my images of Castlerigg can be seen here.

Stay tuned for images of that other stone circle in an upcoming post!