Rupert Soskin is the writer and presenter of the documentary travelogue Standing With Stones: A Journey Through Megalithic Britain. He lectures and leads groups to ancient sites and natural wonders in Britain and abroad. He is also a much-published nature and travel photographer.
Once again the winter solstice has come around. That magical time when the sun begins to rise again, giving us longer days and taking us into warmer days of plenty. People flock to sites such as Stonehenge and Newgrange to witness the rising or the setting of the sun. Modern-day druids hold ceremonies at these and other ancient monuments, continuing ancient traditions which began so long ago in human history for their origins to be lost in the mists of time.
For many thousands of years man has celebrated this celestial cycle of ebb and flow, seeking to live in harmony with the constant effects of the heavens upon the earth. The British Isles remain one of the most significant places on the planet to find monuments built by our ancestors in celebration of man’s relationship with the sun. Stone circles intricately placed as astronomical calendars; passage graves constructed to allow the solstice sun to illuminate the chambers of the dead; rows of standing stones aligned to the stars, helping the builders plot the comings and goings of the seasons. The accuracy of these constructions still seems extraordinary. How did our ancestors accomplish such feats of planning and building? How many generations placed wooden posts as markers, refining the intricacy and accuracy through the years before finally setting them in stone to remain as permanent as the landscapes on which they stand? When we consider how long it must have taken to plan and build some of the more basic sites, others such as Callanish on the Hebridean isle of Lewis seem almost impossible in their astronomical complexity. Our star-gazing forebears really did have a profound knowledge of the movements of the heavens.
[Disinformation Editor's Note: Standing with Stones is a voyage of discovery, a journey through the extraordinary Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments across Britain and Ireland, from the southern tip of England to the northern Scottish Isles, exploring some of the many marvels of our ancestors deep understanding of the heavens. Never before has there been such an opportunity to see on film the wealth of British heritage which remains as a testament to our ancient connection with the heavens. The trailer is below and the DVD is available in good videostores, online, and here in the Disinformation Store.]