– William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Confession: I’m a teensy bit of a hippie at heart. Not in the bra-burning, hallucinogenic, live-in-a-commune sense. More the peaceful in the know youth subculture that abides by the code: “Do your own thing, wherever you have to do it and whenever you want.” When my parents’ generation were gathering at Woodstock in 1969, new age travellers in the UK were forming peace convoys for the summer pilgrimage to free music festivals at Stonehenge.
The Rollright Stones in the Oxfordshire countryside are a similar ancient monument consisting of a circle of stones. Thought to be a gathering place for Neolithic folk, the ring of limestone boulders dates back to 3,500 BC. With the summer solstice this weekend, I thought it was the perfect place to shake off modern society and celebrate the arrival of the summer season – which is being a bit shy this year!
Summer solstice marks the longest day of the year when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. Solstice has been celebrated since prehistoric times – and the local Cotswolds Order of the Druids were on hand to celebrate. They called for peace in the north, south, east and west and reenacted the battle between the Holly King of winter and the Oak King of summer. The Oak King triumphed in the end – so bring on the sun already!