The Midwinter Solstice was celebrated at many of the great monuments of the Neolithic, 5,000 years ago. Stonehenge, Maes Howe in Orkney and Newgrange in Ireland continue to be breath-taking sites but, for a few weeks of the year, they were particularly special and spectacular. As the midwinter sun sets, shafts of light illuminate the deep darkness in the carefully aligned tombs; experiencing this is still a very moving moment, even today. We explore what it was all about for the early farmers and what midwinter celebrations may have meant for their life-bringing farming, for their beliefs and their approach to death.
This lecture is about a very human celebration of light in the dark midwinter and an exploration into how great monuments we can still visit can take us back in time to the dawn of our settled lives in society.