The summer solstice this year was celebrated in Orkney at the Comet Stone, the Ring of Brodgar. The ceremony, with full permission from Historic Environment Scotland, was conducted with respect by Helen Woodsford- Dean and her husband Mark.
A freezing wind whipped across the iconic World Heritage site which is in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.
The celebration started at 3am and soon there were many visitors and locals alike gathered around the Comet Stone. There was humour and respect throughout and people were free to come and go as they wished. Some took a more active part by joining in with readings. Libations were offered consisting of beer and bread.
As the sun rose there was a stillness in those there as they watched it rise over the Harray Loch. Numbed with cold those who had been there all came away feeling that bit better.
Helen and Mark must be congratulated for conducting such an inclusive and heart warming celebration managing to combine the importance of the event with a lightness of touch.
What a contrast to what happened next when a bus arrived, after the sun had risen, and its occupants proceeded to barge their way past protective barriers at the Ring of Brodgar where valuable conservation work is still taking place.
The group then trampled through the heart of the Ring with no thought to the potential damaged they may be doing.
This is the bus they came on.
Unfortunately there are visitors who come to Orkney, a minority, who show no respect to our iconic sites. In recent years The Italian Chapel has had to introduce security measures having had items removed. Skara Brae and stones at Brodgar have had to be repaired after people left their marks.
What we have in Orkney has lasted for over 5,000 years. It is central to our heritage and culture.
The Comet Stone solstice ceremony left those attending feeling peaceful and uplifted despite the challenges of the Orkney weather.
The Orkney News live streamed the ceremony. To watch that you can go to the Orkney News Facebook page.