The solstice itself may have been a special time of the yearly cycle, even during neolithic times. Astronomical events, which during ancient times controlled the mating of animals, sowing of crops and metering of winter reserves between harvests, show how various cultural mythologies and traditions have arisen. This is can be shown physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological sites such as Stonehenge in the UK.
The primary axes of Stonehenge seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunset. As one of the most iconic, and historic, places in the UK, Stonehenge will draw many to celebrate the Winter Solstice.
I first visited Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, South-East England, on a coach trip to Bath over 10 years ago. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had the opportunity to enter the enclosed area as we didn’t have enough time on the trip, and the day was very damp and wet. It wasn’t as large as I had imagined – but I knew I had to revisit.
I have visited the site a couple of times since, and have found the place a very spiritual one. In what felt like the middle of no-where, and with a motorway nearby, I did find the monument rather peaceful.
I also found the stones fascinating, and have wondered what the meanings were behind them. I also found myself in awe as to the stones were transported and assembled. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to actually get too close to the stones, but I was still able to photograph them.
I could have photographed the monument in b&w, but I visited on a beautiful day, and thought that colour capture the interplay of the blue sky, green grass, the lighting and the stone. While Stonehenge is used to celebrate the solstices during the year, I found that even when I visited the moment in the height of summer, lighting could still play a dramatic affect when photographing the stones.
I used Fujifilm Velvia slide film (50 ASA and 100 ASA) in this instance as I like the quality and feel of the film. I am sure on another day, particularly on a moody grey day, b&w would be quite effective.
Trying to capture Stonehenge with few people in the shot could be a bit tricky, but the photographer just needs to be a bit creative. I was happy with my results – the textures of the stones and the grass coming through with the sky and clouds giving a bit of contrast.