Yule 2010 (Winter Solstice) - Stony Littleton, Local Walks, Stonehenge and Avebury

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Yule/Winter Solstice in 2010. This celebration - centred on 21 December, sees the sun rising exactly in the south east and performing its shallowest arc across the sky - giving us the shortest day. With the sun effectively doing little for a few days, the first full minute of extra light was experienced on 26 December. Gradually more light and heat will be evident, taking us on to the first signs of new life we see at Imbolc. In the meantime a good knees-up is deserved as we celebrate the end of the dark days and the re-birth of the sun. I had planned the busiest Winter Solstice yet but bad weather saw events being cancelled and my travel plans severely disrupted. So this report is far from what it should have been. I'm very grateful to the credited photo contributors who were able to cover events that I was not able to attend. My primary activity this time was to capture the rising sun aligning with the Stony Littleton long barrow on 25 December. Later that day I watched the sun go down and looked forward to the following day where there would be a whole minute of extra light. Despite the very low temperature I went out the following morning and found a good spot to watch the sun rising again. I did a lot of walking during this period and I did some snow photos on the date of Winter Solstice - 21 December. The weather was not very co-operative when it came to the full moon and lunar eclipse. So I've just included a BBC News screenshot and a few photos of the waning moon a couple of days later. Managed Open Access at Stonehenge on 22 December is covered by photos kindly submitted by Peter Yankowski. The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri was held on 18 December and this is covered by photos kindly taken by Dennis Wright and Em Franklin. There was another event at Avebury on 21 December. This was for the Winter Solstice and Lunar Eclipse and photos are again supplied by Dennis Wright.

Stony Littleton (25 Dec 2010)

The 5,000-year-old Stony Littleton chambered long barrow faces South East. This means that it is illuminated by the sunrise of the Winter Solstice period, with the sunset of the Summer Solstice period setting exactly behind the entrance. I chose 25 December to visit the site because it was the last day before a full minute of new light was to be provided by the sun post-Solstice. This was a very cold morning but I was rewarded with a visible sunrise. I positioned myself at the back of the long barrow at 08:45 and waited a short time for the sun to break the horizon. The spectacle then gradually built and faded over a period of 12 minutes or so. Photos are shown below, with the first one being from six months earlier when I watched the Summer Solstice sun set behind the barrow.

Six months earlier - the Summer Solstice sun sets behind the entrance of the long barrow (20 Jun 2010)

Six months on - the long barrow waits to be illuminated by the rising mid-winter sun

Facing the dawn sky

At the back of the long barrow with daylight coming in the doorway

The sun begins to rise above the horizon (12x optical zoom)

Extra light begins to enter the long barrow

Extra light begins to enter the long barrow

Extra light begins to enter the long barrow

Extra light begins to enter the long barrow

The sun is now almost fully exposed (12x optical zoom)

An increasing amount of direct sunlight now enters the long barrow

An increasing amount of direct sunlight now enters the long barrow

The sun is now clearly exposed (12x optical zoom)

The intense light brings the long barrow to life

The intense light brings the long barrow to life

The intense light brings the long barrow to life

The intense light brings the long barrow to life

Energy beginning to drop away

The sun is now moving away (12x optical zoom)

Energy continues to drop away

Little direct sunlight is now entering the long barrow

The sun is on its way around once more

The sun is now high enough to shine over the long barrow

Afternoon Walk (25 Dec 2010)

This afternoon walk concluded with me watching the sunset. For me this was the end of the solar year. The next day would see a full minute of extra light with the sun setting a minute later.

Out and about as the sun descends

Out and about as the sun descends

Out and about as the sun descends

Out and about as the sun descends

Out and about as the sun descends

Out and about as the sun descends

Out and about as the sun descends

Now in the final phase

Now in the final phase

12x optical zoom

Now in the final phase

12x optical zoom

Now in the final phase

12x optical zoom

Now in the final phase

12x optical zoom

Gone. When it returned there was a minute of extra light - see next section

Morning Walk (26 Dec 2010)

Half way through this morning walk I was on the top of Farmborough Common watching the sun rise. The significance of the day was it being the first to have a whole minute of extra light since the sun reached its low point. The start of six months of growing light and heat.

The dawn sky - a taste of things to come

The tree lights up against the golden sky

Sheep come to greet their early morning visitor

The first sign of the sun breaking the horizon

Beginning to grow in strength

12x optical zoom

Growing in strength

12x optical zoom

Almost fully revealed

12x optical zoom

The Farmborough Common trees in front of the rising sun

12x optical zoom

Fully exposed but threatened by low cloud and aircraft trails

Back down off the Common and the sheep enjoy the first rays of sun

On the way home again

The milky sun does little to warm up a landscape that has been frozen for several weeks

Winter Solstice Local Dawn Walk (21 Dec 2010)

Darkness begins to lift around the icy lanes

Into the fields, I think!

Trees line my favourite stream

Lots of bridges cross the stream, although not all are as strong as this one

You have to walk through the water to get to the next field

A less substantial crossing

On the other side

On the other side

Looking down on the valley

Farmborough Common

Sheep gaze over at their early visitor

The Moon (21/23 Dec 2010)

Cloud and fog prevented us seeing either the full moon or the rare Winter Solstice eclipse.

We had to resort to the BBC to see the eclipse on 21 Dec

The moon a couple of days into its waning phase

The moon a couple of days into its waning phase - shot against my snow-covered fir tree

The moon a couple of days into its waning phase

My amazing icicle bush, filmed at night with flash

Managed Open Access at Stonehenge - 22 Dec 2010

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Arthur Pendragon (Photo: Peter Yankowski)

Merlin and Linda following their handfasting (Photo: Peter Yankowski)

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Photo: Peter Yankowski

Photo: Peter Yankowski

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri (18 Dec 2010)

People travel from far and wide for this event. The travel difficulties experienced in this period meant this was a much smaller event than normal and it was officiated by Terry.

Meeting at the Red Lion (Photo: Dennis Wright)

Forming up the circle (Photo: Dennis Wright)

Terry talks about the season (Photo: Dennis Wright)

Some welcome warming mead is passed around the circle (Photo: Dennis Wright)

Terry talks about Avebury (Photo: Em Franklin)

Dennis listens in (Photo: Em Franklin)

The group at the end (Photo: Dennis Wright)

Avebury in the snow *Photo: Dennis Wright)

Avebury Winter Solstice and Lunar Eclipse (21 Dec 2010)

This was a joint event organised by the Cauldron and Cerridwen and Steve the Stag.

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

Photo: Dennis Wright

 

The Cauldron of Cerridwen Ritual at Avebury (18 Dec 2010)

Cancelled

The Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr for Alban Arthan (19 Dec 2010)

Cancelled


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Page last updated: 26 Dec 2010