Orkney Celebrates the Summer Solstice

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.

summer solstice 3The 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.

summer solstice 6 trampers


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.

summer solstice comet stoneWhat 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.

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

6 replies »

  1. The thing is – they just don’t get the point, do they? Why are they even there, if they don’t see that that isn’t the way to behave, when there?
    Is it just another ‘tick’ to them? Who knows. I hope they get into deep trouble for it, though, and fined heavily, with the money going to archaeology in Orkney. The ‘phone number is plain to see – but – I suppose, it wasn’t illegal? Hmmm – hard to know how to deal with it. Trespass? – as there are signs telling people not to go past the fences?
    Ban that particular coach company from visiting Brodgar? – but – how to ‘police’ that?

    On a better note – those are wonderful, atmospheric pictures, Fiona – presumably by you? That’s more like it.
    The Spirit of Place will be smiling.

    • It’s not a thing to be policed, it relies on people behaving with respect which they were lacking

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