Cultural Spotlight #19 – Summer Solstice

June 20, 2016

The Summer Solstice falls on June 21st in Ireland. This is the longest day of the year, when the Sun is at its highest point of the year in the northern hemisphere. In ancient pagan societies the Summer Solstice was hugely significant, it was a time when the power of the Sun was at its highest and was seen as an important time for fertility, when the harvests of the coming year were blessed.

Ireland is home to a wealth of Neolithic and megalithic sites ranging from tombs like Newgrange to standing stones, dolmens and fairy forts. Interest in these ancient places peaks around the Summer Solstice, when the midsummer sun brings their secrets to life.

This significance is mirrored in the places of worship and burial sites, from standing stones to pyramids and tombs that Neolithic pagan cultures built throughout the world and many were designed in alignment with the sun at this sacred time of the year, when the sun was at its most powerful.

newgrange_aerial

 

There are some 40,000 ancient megalithic and Neolithic sites across the British Isles and Ireland, from burial chambers, to stone circles and former dwellings of ancient societies.

Ireland’s most prominent Neolithic site is Newgrange an ancient passage tomb, dating back nearly 5,000 years, predating the Egyptian pyramids by 6 centuries. Newgrange is the best example of a Stone Age passage tomb in Ireland and one of the most remarkable prehistoric sites in Europe. The burial mound is some 80m in diameter and 13m high, and is similar to sites built around the same time at Maes Howe in Orkney and Carnac in Britanny.

 

For events and more information about aspects of the summer solstice check out the following;

http://www.taracelebrations.org/summer-solstice/

 

 

 

 

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