Solstice events are much improved since English Heritage banned alcohol and imposed a parking charge, thereby reducing misbehaviour and overcrowding. But there’s still room for improvement. For one thing, thousands who are purely revellers use the “don’t pay to pray” mantra to oppose paying an economic price for the event. Consequently many tens of thousands extra pounds are spent on the event that could be better used elsewhere to protect heritage.
For another thing, English Heritage are still utterly pathetic at stopping hundreds of people standing on the stones, thereby broadcasting a message of disrespect. (Three stewards/security guards in high viz jackets and helmets – and heavy boots no doubt – were shown this morning on BBC 1, standing side by side on a stone! EH stewardship, eh? Next they’ll be supporting the wrecking of the landscape with a short tunnel!)
In addition, the gathering takes place at the wrong time and the wrong place. The monument was designed to view the winter solstice sunset from outside the stones not the winter solstice sunrise from inside them. Doing it wrong is no big deal but doing it wrong at great expense when heritage needs aren’t met elsewhere is hard to justify.
You can do it right if you wish (here’s a tour you can book) or if you prefer you could celebrate the event perfectly validly in your local town. In Birmingham for instance there are dozens of roads clearly aligned on the winter solstice sunset! We recommend City Road, Edgbaston. It runs dead straight for a mile pointing to the winter solstice setting sun. Magnificent! All proper pagans ought to be gathering there!