An estimated 14,500 celebrated a night vigil at Stonehenge from 8PM on 20th June 2001 until 9PM on the 21st June, and saw the sun rise!

White mist lay over the fields to the North of the Hele stone creating an awesome sight as if the sea had rolled in. A dark cloud seemed to stand in the way but a red spot broke through. Next we saw the upper part of the disk separated by what seemed to be a thin cloud from a flat segment. "My God!" I cried to my companion, "It's a McDonald's bun!" and so it was for a moment until the whole disk was visible over the horizon and a big cheer went up.

During the night strange pagan music was played within the stones. I asked the man next to me, a middle aged druid, what he thought of it. "Oh very like what would have been heard in ancient times, heavy on the percussion" Add the odd horn, a flute and bagpipes. The idea of the circle as a sound chamber occurred to me.

It was an extremely good natured event, with no aggression, despite the occurence of drunkeness. Our Peace Process Goddess, built of green hazel branches, did the rounds of the site, was greeted with enthusiasm and propped against a stone, was the recipient of bouquets of flowers.

The stones were vacated in fairly good time, and opened to tourists soon after 10:30AM. The carpark scheduled to close at 2PM was almost empty when I passed it in the evening. English Heritage will still insist on no climbing on the stones, no dogs, no glass, for future entries, but clever management decreased these breaches this year. The question of fire remains an issue, that we would contest. In practise fire jugglers were allowed to swing in a safe area beyond the crowd, but those who started up within the crowd were snuffed by security. This seemed a reasonable compromise. The Kings Drummers performed without permission, even taking their flares into the stones.

There were NO arrests in the stones, but a few drug related arrests in the carpark. A senior officer said the police had not been looking for drugs. Rather some people had been out "looking" for the police in some way, they got noticed, so they got done.

Click on to: Paul Aitken's news clippings

Click on to: Bringing the Goddess into the stones

Click on to: Solstice picture galleries

Click on to: Individual reports

Click on to: Solstice preparations


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