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British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

 
 
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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
Longest Day of the Year
 

The longest day of the year, the Summer solstice, is on or near 21 June. It is the day when the sun is at its most northerly point and this is why it is "the longest day".

On this day you can see a very old custom at Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England.

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

What is Stonehenge?

Stonehenge is one of Europe's biggest stone circles. A lot of stones are ten or twelve metres high. The earliest part of Stonehenge is nearly 5,000 years old. It is thought that the Druids used Stonehenge for a calendar.

Stonehenge as it might have looked

Who are/were Druids?

The Druids were the priests in Britain 2,000 years ago. They used the sun and the stones at Stonehenge to know the start of the months and seasons. There are Druids in Britain today too.

What happens at Stonehenge on June 21st?
- the Longest Day of the Year

Stonehenge

Every June 21st hundreds of people go to Stonehenge to watch the sun rise. The sun shines on one famous stone - the Heel stone. For the Druids this is a very important moment of the year.

Druid celebrations also take place on Midsummer's Eve. Bonfires are lit to show respect for the Sun God, whose power is greatest at the Summer Solstice. The fires also represent an attempt to ward off the coming winter. Practice of this ancient ritual, which also includes a Summer Solstice Circle Dance, is now mainly confined to Cornwall, the West Country, and London's Hampstead Heath.

Back to facts and tales about the month of June

Find out more about solstices

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© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2014

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites projectbritain.com and primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consultant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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