September 3 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, June 22, 2014
While thousands gathered at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice, a smaller but no less dramatic get together was held on the banks of the River Bure.
The burning of a 15ft reedman marked the midsummer celestial event in Stokesby on Saturday night, with locals and holidaymakers sharing home-cooked food, drinks and a riverside fire on the longest day of the year.
Residents of the Broadland village, near Acle, have long held parties and events on the bank of the Bure and last year, while chatting about midsummer in the pub, came up with the idea of a reedman ‘ritual’.
Now in its second year, locals said the gathering close to the Ferry Inn pub had been “organically” organised.
Neighbours contributed, some bringing food to be shared alongside a barbecue provided by the East Somerton-based Norfolk Sausage Company, and the reed statue was crafted by local artist Russell Canham.
The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year when the sun is at its highest point in the northern hemisphere.
The world solstice comes from the Latin solstitium meaning ‘sun stands still’, a nod to the way the high sun appears to ‘stop’ in the sky before changing direction.
In the northern hemisphere, the solstice takes place between June 20 and June 22. In the southern hemisphere, the longest summer day is in December.
Colloquially known as midsummer, the celestial event has been celebrated by cultures across the world throughout history and in the UK is associated with Druids and pagans who mark the occasion at prehistoric sites including Stonehenge and Avebury.
“The reed is cut down close to here and we just gathered up what is left on the floor and use that,” said Mr Canham, who has a studio on the Green in Stokesby.
“I usually do abstract landscapes so this is becoming my annual foray into sculpture.
“It’s a good night, it’s nice and informal.”
Elsewhere, the solstice was celebrated at a pagan camp near Snettisham over the weekend. The Spirit of Iceni camp featured talks, workshops, arts, crafts, and camping, and raised money for the West Norfolk RSPCA Rescue Centre.