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Thousands gather at Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice

Thousands of people celebrated the winter solstice at Stonehenge. Credit: PA

Thousands of people gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice.

Druids and pagans were among the crowd that watched the sun come up at 8.13am on the shortest day of the year.

Druids and pagans were among the crowd that watched the sun come up. Credit: PA

People, some dressed in traditional pagan clothing, danced, played musical instruments and kissed the ancient stones.

One South African woman said she had made the trip to the UK "especially for the solstice".

She said: "I am a Pagan, a witch and this is about the best place to be."

Kate Davies from English Heritage, who manage the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, said: "We were delighted to welcome approximately 5,000 people to Stonehenge to celebrate winter solstice this morning.

Stonehenge was built over 5,000 thousands years ago and remains a place of spiritual significance for many. Credit: PA

"It was a very enjoyable and peaceful celebration and the ancient stone circle was filled with the sound of drumming and chanting."

There will be just seven hours, 49 minutes and 41 seconds of daylight on 21 December, almost nine hours less than the year's longest day in June.

People have gathered at Stonehenge for thousands of year to celebrate the winter solstice. Credit: PA

Stonehenge was built over 5,000 thousands years ago and remains a place of spiritual significance for many people.

Crowds gather at the UNESCO World Heritage Site on the shortest and longest days of the year as the stones are aligned to the sunset of the winter solstice and the opposing sunrise of the summer solstice.

Some experts believe the winter solstice was more important to our ancient ancestors than the summer solstice as the longest night marked a turning of the year as the days begin to grow longer.