The sun is late, but when it appears, faces light up: clamor and arms rise among the thousand-year-old stones at the English site of Stonehenge at the summer solstice.
At 4:49 a.m. (3:49 a.m. GMT), the time of sunrise on Tuesday, the longest day of the year, the star is very shy in the sky as foggy as the minds of the many revelers who spent the night there.
The event brought together a total of 6,000 people for sunset and sunrise Tuesday – according to the site manager and police – in the first major summer celebration at Stonehenge since the pandemic began.
Constructed about 4,500 years ago, the famous megaliths align with the sun’s axis during the summer and winter solstices.
“Maybe we’ll see that around 10 in the morning,” joked Jade Titlon, who first came to Stonehenge from Leicester, in central England, with a friend.
Surrounded by the rhythms of flute and drum, bird song and sheep bleating, as well as the rumble of trucks on the highway not too far away, the 35-year-old finds herself immersed in the unique atmosphere of the place.
Floating in the air is a mixture of incense and grass smells despite the ban imposed at the entrance to the site.
– Yoga in toga –
But at 5:08 a.m. the sun finally emerged from the mist, greeted with whistling and cheering, but also a huge lift of cell phones.
Facing the star, two women, crowns of artificial flowers in their hair, open and close their arms, saluting the “new energy” of the summer sun, as one of them explains.
A little later, a group, which includes a handful of men in togas, is doing yoga facing the sun.
Members of another group, wearing headphones, hold hands in concentric circles with slight sway before hugging each other in pairs, moving and smiling.
Stonehenge is “the most architecturally complex stone circle in the world” according to UNESCO, which declared it a World Heritage Site in 1986.
In the 17th century the theory, which has since been rejected by historians, emerged that Stonehenge was built by Druids.
– A ‘fragile’ memorial –
Thus the new druids remain very present and celebrate the solstices and equinoxes on the site.
During a ceremony before sunrise, “Chief of Stonehenge,” Rollo Moofling, cast peace incantations at the Four Cardinal Points, invocations to the sun and earth, which were taken up in the choir by the aid. But also spells to release WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, for “peace between Russia and Ukraine”, at the end of global warming.
“People are very respectful when we have our celebrations,” he told AFP, noting that many newcomers sometimes defy the ban on rock climbing, which he says has been resisted for thousands of years.
The site’s curator, Heather Sapir, notes that despite the stones’ size, the monument is “fragile,” “there are many things you cannot see with the naked eye.”
Among the many visitors, some do “almost a celebration of themselves,” as she asserts, “almost a place of worship for them.”
To the point of provoking scenes of hugging and communicating with the stone.
According to local police, this summer’s summer solstice at Stonehenge resulted in only two arrests, for assault and a drug case.
However, the site’s history has known a turbulent past. On June 1, 1985, riot police intervened to stop the “Freedom Caravan” in protest of an exclusion zone set up to protect the site.
After these events with a hotly contested story on every side, in which 400 people were arrested and many more injured, it took 15 years for the site to be reached again for the solstice.