Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2020: how to live stream the event for free.
Stonehenge is synonymous with celebrations for the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, as crowds usually flock to see the sunrise from behind the site’s famed Heel Stone. This year, however, English Heritage – a charity that manages more than 400 historic monuments – is moving the event online, with people all over the world invited to watch via a live stream. The charity organisation will film the event, and post it live on its social media accounts, including YouTube, on June 21 .
With a history stretching nearly five millennia, the ancient mystical site, together with a stone circle at nearby Avebury, forms part of the 6,500 acre Stonehenge and Avebury UNESCO World Heritage Site. As well as being a wonder of the world and a masterpiece of engineering, the prehistoric monuments have great spiritual and cultural meaning.
But with limited evidence around how it got there, or why it was built, the vast stone complex has spurred a number of highly creative theories. From aliens and giants being involved in its construction to its use as a burial site, a music venue, and even being the result of an ancient team-building exercise, its past is riddled with mystery. Join us as we take a step back in time and explore the history of one of Britain’s best-known landmarks.
What we do know is that construction didn’t take place all at once. The first structure to be built at the site around 5,000 years ago was an early henge monument, a circular earthwork enclosure, with the stone circle added during the late Neolithic period – estimated to be around 2500 BC. This was undoubtedly a mammoth undertaking involving hundreds of people using only primitive tools.
The larger sarsen stones – one of two types of stone used for the monument – were arranged in two parallel formations to form a horseshoe and an outer circle. These stones weigh an average of 25 tons and scientists believe they originated in quarries around 20 miles to the north of the site. The smaller ‘bluestones’ were erected between the two sets of sarsens to create a double arc, and their roots have been traced back to the Preseli Hills in south-west Wales, some 200 miles from Stonehenge.
As with the origins of the monument itself, various theories exist as to how the stones came to be in the region. Some suggest that Neolithic builders used sledges and tree trunks to form rollers, or that they floated the stones on barges along the Welsh coast and up the nearby River Avon. Scientists have also championed the idea that the huge stones were moved by glaciers and vast ice floes during one of the Ice Ages. For those that dream of exploring Stonehenge, it’s possible to take a Virtual Tour until they can visit the site themselves.
The role of the sun
Based on archaeological evidence, it’s thought that the Heel Stone – an outlier to the northeast of the main arrangement – may have had a partner stone to frame the sunrise in midsummer. From a central vantage point within the main stone circle, it’s possible to see the sunrise to the left of the remaining stone.
Numerous burial mounds and other archaeological findings from the surrounding area date back to the Bronze Age, while a major hillfort, a little over a mile from Stonehenge, can trace its roots to the Iron Age. Further archaeological excavations have found numerous Roman objects in the region too, suggesting that the site carried great ritual importance throughout their time in Britain too.
For budding astronomers keen to see more, English Heritage have also created Skyscape – an immersive experience detailing the skies above the iconic stone circle.
Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2020 Live Stream
A day of great importance, particularly among the Druid and Pagan communities, for the first time ever the celebrations will be streamed digitally in 2020. English Heritage, which looks after the Wiltshire site, will live stream the sunrise on its social media channels on Sunday 21 June, giving viewers around the world the chance to experience this incredible sight for themselves. “We hope that our live stream offers an alternative opportunity for people near and far to connect with this spiritual place at such a special time of year and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year,” Stonehenge director Nichola Tasker told the Salisbury Journal. While many fans of the event are heartbroken over its cancellation (including Tasker herself) she advises “please do not travel to Stonehenge this summer solstice, but watch it online instead.”