Summer solstice draws crowds of merrymakers

Stonehenge (United Kingdom), June 21: The Earth’s northern hemisphere welcomed its longest day of the year on Thursday and hundreds of people gathered at Stonehenge in southern England to celebrate the solstice and the coming of summer. Stonehenge, a neolithic stone circle on a plain by the Avon river dating back as far as 3000-2000 BC, has in Western culture become synonymous with the summer solstice, when it attracts hordes of visitors, druids and spiritually-minded folk who spend the night by the ancient monument to watch the sunrise.

Archaeologists have long been perplexed by many aspects of the iconic landmark, such as its original purpose and construction methods. Some modern theories posit the site was used for religious ceremonies, including healing rituals, while others believe it was used as a solar calendar due to its astronomical orientation, according to Efe news. But the blue-stone megaliths appear to have been erected using the solar cycle as a blueprint.
From a standing point looking east from inside the complex of menhirs and dolmens on the morning of the summer equinox, the sun rises directly behind what is known as the heel stone, a sarsen block some 77 metres from Stonehenge. Its light — depending on the weather — drenches the ancient circle and the merrymakers gathered there in an early morning glow. (IANS)