Here’s a little prehistoric British inspiration for your own solstice celebration this June 21st.

EACH YEAR IN LATE June, Stonehenge draws a sizable crowd to the Salisbury Plain to celebrate a day that people have been taking note of for thousands of years. Whether you believe the summer solstice represents a convergence of kinetic energy or simply the longest day of the year, it was clearly important to the prehistoric inhabitants of Great Britain.

The stone circles of Stonehenge and Avebury – which are theorized to have charted major astronomical events like the solstices and equinoxes – get most of the press, but there are close to 1,000 such sites throughout the Isles. Below are some shots of both the big names and others you might not have heard of. For more info on any of them, check out the Stone Pages.


Stonehenge solstice party

Though well-visited any day of the year, Stonehenge is overwhelmed at the solstices. This was the scene on June 21, 2009. Below is the famous site during a more reflective moment. Photo: vintagedept


Quiet Stonehenge

Photo: jonrawlinson


Callanish standing stones, Scotland

The massive standing stones in this corner of Scotland's Outer Hebrides date from 1800 BC. They share the ground with younger, more active residents, as shown below. Photo: photojenni


Ram at Callanish

Photo: Donald Macleod


Stanton Drew

The largest of Stanton Drew's three stone circles is 112 meters in diameter, England's second biggest. Photo: Hardo



Lying in Cumbria, near England's Lake District, Swinside is one of the best preserved circles in Western Europe. Photo: SalePhotoSociety


Avebury stones

Avebury is the world's largest circle, and its stones run through part of the town of the same name, making them very much part of daily life, as seen below. Photo: markbarky


Avebury sheep

Photo: Andrew Stawarz


Merry Maidens

Legend says that 19 maidens were turned to stone in this Cornwall meadow for dancing on a Sunday. The petrified band stands nearby. Photo: Le Petit Poulailler


Castlerigg with snow

Castlerigg is one of Britain's oldest circles and lies on a hill among more recently constructed stone walls in Lake District sheep country. Photo: alancleaver_2000


The Hurlers, Cornwall

More capital petrification -- the Hurlers are said to have been caught playing ball on a Sunday. Photo: Le Petit Poulailler


Merrivale standing stone

The site at Merrivale includes a partially preserved circle, a couple stone rows, and this standing stone. Photo: Le Petit Poulailler


Ring of Brodgar, Scotland

Brodgar's 27 remaining stones, on Scotland's Orkney Mainland, stand as tall as 15 feet. Photo: brockvicky


Long Meg standing stone

Long Meg stands at 12 feet and presides over a large circle of 60 of her "daughters," two of which are shown below. Photo: Joccay


Long Meg's daughters

Photo: alllyballly


Rollright stones

The Rollrights make up a site nearly as complex as Stonehenge, with a circle, a large standing stone, and a burial chamber. Photo: Keith@Fibonacci


Sunhoney stone circle, Scotland

This Scottish site is defined by the stand of trees that surround its broken and recumbent stones. Photo: stusmith_uk

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