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Summer Solstice
Among the Ancient Druid Order
At Stonehenge

by Dirk Vander Ploeg 
<Edited by R.D. Morningsta*>
(Copyright 2009, Dirk Vander Ploeg - All Rights Reserved)

Posted: 11:30 July 16 2009

Summer Solstice Among the Ancient Druid Order At Stonehenge

The sun, although hours from rising, sent emissaries of purple light to herald the coming of the new day. But this was no ordinary day and each hue of regal purple shone bright to proclaim the birth of a new solstice, a summer solstice.

In contrast to the aerial canopy above we were exhausted and bone chilled as we huddled together on a park bench seeking warmth from each other.

It was a few minutes past 4 a.m. on June 22, 2009. We were at Stonehenge to witness the summer solstice and we were the guests of Druids!

We had left Bedfordshire (where my wife was born and her parents still live) and travelled by train to Salisbury. It was the afternoon on the 21st when we arrived and checked into our hotel. We decided to do some sightseeing and visited historic Salisbury Cathedral where we saw the Magna Carta. We had supper at a wonderful Italian restaurant before grabbing the bus to Amesbury. We had read that the night before 40,000 partiers celebrated the beginning of summer and now we as witnesses to the traditional Druid ceremonies would be allowed to touch the stones, and I would be permitted to photograph the proceedings.

Carolyn had heard that Stonehenge was only a couple miles from the village of Amesbury and she cajoled me to walk to the park. As we were departing the bus we asked the driver how far it was to Stonehenge. His reply was:

"Hmmm, its quite a walk you know."

We should have seen this as a warning. He also added that Stonehenge was more than a couple of miles and that we would be walking alongside a busy highway. Not deterred we set off on the final leg of our Stonehenge adventure.

We had walked four or five blocks when the road joined a roundabout and we chose the left path because road signs stated Stonehenge was two miles ahead. We proceeded along the verge of the road and immediately found ourselves on a "dual carriageway, which is a two lane highway each way. Cars and trucks alike zoomed by us at an alarming speed. The road was a long path, uneven or hidden completely, and littered with cans and bottles, unceremoniously dumped by the revellers of the night before.

It was twenty past nine when we stepped off the bus. We were to meet, our Druid contact at 10 p.m. in the Stonehenge parking lot with official registration beginning at 10:30. We believed we had lots of time.

The climb continued onward and upward; the temperature dropping as we walked. The sun had set only about 10 pm and there was no moon or any stars.

The traffic droned on dangerously close to us. We spotted a sign that stated that parking was only one-half mile away and believing that this was Stonehenge, picked up our pace, which in turn picked up our spirits. Deep down I celebrated. The walk, despite my bravado was proving to be extremely difficult and I wished that I had insisted that we take a taxi to the rendezvous. We trudged on and came upon a quarter mile marker and I said to Carolyn that I had forgotten how far a quarter mile was. Fifteen minutes later we arrived, that is to say, that we came upon a parking lay-by on the side of the road for motorists to pull over. In North America we call this simply a "rest stop."

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