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This event saw around 200 local people gather to mark the midwinter Solstice on December 21. Having settled into a tradition over the last seven years, the occasion was launched with an ornate lantern transported to Stonehenge to be lit at sunset in an act representing the capturing of the dying rays of the old year.

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Commissioned by the Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust in 2011 and created by Andy Rawlings and Michelle Topps, the lantern is an astonishing work of art with stained glass leadwork representing the World Heritage Site landscape. The transportation of the lantern to the globally famous stones is undertaken by a local woman chosen annually as the Solstice Fairy.

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The lighting of the lantern is undertaken whilst a guardian ritual is enacted by an overseeing Druid.

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Having been lit the lantern is transported to Blick Mead, where it is placed adjacent to the spring to await the lantern procession that has been gathering meanwhile in Amesbury.

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The Solstice Fairy then leads the gathering of adults and children, each carrying their own lanterns, in procession to Amesbury Abbey.

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Here the participants are greeted with mulled wine and mince pies, thanks to the generosity and hospitality of the Cornelius-Reid family and the Amesbury Abbey Nursing Home.

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On departing the Abbey refreshed and proceeding to Blick Mead, the procession forms a circle around the lantern to take part in an enjoyable and thoughtful ceremony reflecting on the year that has passed and the year to come.

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When the circle breaks the participants return home, meanwhile the lantern is safeguarded overnight then transported back to Stonehenge to be extinguished on the midwinter Solstice line as the sun rises the following day.

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Participation in the lantern procession is free and the tradition has been embraced by local people in an act reconnecting them with Stonehenge and the Mesolithic community that inhabited Blick Mead. Many thanks to Jeff Welch for sharing his wonderful photographs of the event this year. Please note that Blick Mead is on private land, access is not possible throughout the remainder of the year.

 

 

 

 

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