The Stones, The Solstice

The Economic and Social Research Council has sent out a press release (thanks to Wren for the link) on the culmination of their ‘Sacred Sites, Contested Rights/Rites‘ project. Their conclusion? Modern pagans and historians need to have more open and mutual communication.


“For many pagans, prehistoric sites are not ruins but living temples or sacred sites. They feel drawn to these places to perform seasonal rituals or to observe astronomical events. Many pagans, including Druids, accept the ‘preservation ethos’, regarding such things as stone circles, barrows and iron age forts as artefacts of pre-Christian paganism, and therefore sacred…The study points out that archaeologists investigating the religious significance of sites rarely consider rituals of the present day, dismissing them as invalid. Some heritage managers speak directly with pagan and other groups, and may even attend festivals, yet this is seldom recorded officially….Pagans sympathetic to preservation are interested in archaeological views and want to become involved in site maintenance. They also try to explain their perceptions about landscapes as ‘living’ entities. But archaeologists who take part in pagan conferences tend to provide information rather than seek it, and the result is frustration for the groups. “

This issue has also been covered in Archaeology Magazine.

“The publicity surrounding the ban on solstice celebrations and the efforts of druids, wiccans, and others to regain access to the stones only increased the numbers of Britons seriously considering becoming pagans. Tim Sebastian, founder of the Secular Order of Druids (SODS) and one of the most prominent druids in Britain, put it to me bluntly–“You can thank English Heritage for the numbers of pagans today.” – Eric A. Powell

Who knows if it was timed this way, but the study comes out just in time for the Summer Solstice one of the “busy” seasons for these ancient monuments (which usually measured the passage of the seasons). Even in America it seems that people are getting into celebrating the Solstice by building their own monuments.

“Artist Tom Hesse created the blue glass ball, and Connie Ernott designed the oval bronze plaque with ancient Celtic motifs in which to mount it. They did three such plaques: one with the blue ball for the summer solstice on June 21, one with a red ball for the winter solstice on Dec. 21 and one with a purple ball for both the spring and fall equinoxes on March 20 and Sept. 22. Greg Johnson designed the overhead lens in the shape of an eye through which the beams will shine for all four events. The Solar Calendar, shaped like an Indian medicine wheel, was finished in May as part of the $5.5 million in renovations to Central Riverside Park. Because of the standing rocks — up to 14 feet tall — some have already dubbed it Wichita’s Stonehenge.” – Bob Curtright

Here are some more articles on local Solstice events and musings. Near my home we have our tribute to the sun, the Sun Singer statue at Allerton Park.

“The sun singer is easily the largest statue in Allerton Park. The sun singer is a bronze statue of the Greek sun-god Apollo. A story associated with its origin is that Robert Allerton had expected a life size statue of Apollo. Instead, he received a sixteen foot tall sculpture.”Percy Morales

Jason Pitzl-Waters