As predicted, the occasion was a great success. Thanks to mild weather a record number of people turned out but as Peter Carson, head of Stonehenge at English Heritage, said, it was “an extremely busy but enjoyable and peaceful event for the record 5,000 visitors who came along. The record numbers were rewarded with a wonderful sunrise and this builds on the success of the celebrations of previous years.”
So there’s the proof, it’s all down to numbers. We now know that up to 5,000 is manageable whereas 20,000-plus isn’t and we’re well on the way to knowing what is the optimum manageable figure in the Summer. All that will then be needed is to publish it and find ways to ensure it is kept to!
The event was very notable for something else as well ……
“AN ancient tradition could be making a permanent comeback after the first one to be held in 5,000 years proved a huge success…… more than 500 people took part in the Amesbury Lantern Parade to mark the mid-winter solstice, walking from Stonehenge to the nearby town along the original processional route of the Avenue carrying glowing lanterns.
According to Mayor Andy Rhind-Tutt: It was an incredible sight, to look back as we walked away from Stonehenge to look back and see all the lanterns leading back towards Stonehenge. I wasn’t sure if it would go that well but everything fell into place, the weather was good to us and everyone seemed quite overwhelmed by how good it really was.”
Joining people from the local area were those who had read about the plan online and joined the occasion from as far away as Bolivia, Australia and the USA. Mulled wine, mince pies, craft stalls and plenty of festive cheer greeted them as they arrived in Amesbury, complete with a Solstice Lantern made for the occasion by art students at Avon Valley College.”
Of course, the evidence for such a parade 5,000 years ago is zero. (But since when did lack of evidence for previous usage have a bearing on any celebrations at Stonehenge?!) More to the point it “might” have happened in ancient times. And even more to the point it obviously hugely appealed to people – including us! Here’s our prediction: it is the birth of a tradition that will carry on into the far distant future!