There have been calls for the Stonehenge summer solstice celebrations to be extended in both length and scope. The views of Amesbury Chamber of Commerce have been sought so we thought we’d express our own opinion. In principle we think it’s a great idea and it fits with some of our suggestions on how Stonehenge could be used, for instance an annual community carnival, a relaxed event with low key security and police presence.
However, we wouldn’t like any support for an event at the monument to be confused with supporting an extension to the time people are allowed inside the stones which is an entirely separate issue. Every year scores of the revellers clamber on the stones despite all efforts to dissuade them and we think that’s just plain wrong. We’ve always felt a reduction in the numbers allowed in is the answer but recent scientific research has provided another solution. It now seems almost certain that Stonehenge was built to view the winter solstice sunset from The Avenue and in addition that the summer solstice sunrise, if observed, would ALSO have been viewed from the Avenue or possibly from the other side but not from inside the stones.
So we support extending the celebrations providing there is no downside. Allowing tens of thousands to crowd inside the circle for even longer than now would certainly involve a big downside and a particularly unnecessary one now it has been shown it was not what the monument was built for. We hope that any support the people of Amesbury give to an expanded celebration would be on that same basis.