When they arrived in the British Isles, the Saxon invaders brought with them the tradition of calling the month of June Aerra Litha. They marked Midsummer with huge bonfires that celebrated the power of the sun over darkness. For people in Scandinavian countries and in the farther reaches of the Northern hemisphere, Midsummer was very important. The nearly endless hours of light in June are a happy contrast to the constant darkness found six months later in the middle of winter.
The period following the solstice was called Aefterra Litha, according to the Venerable Bede’s eighth century writings about the “heathen” Anglo-Saxons.
Author Sandra Kynes says in A Year of Ritual: Sabbats and Esbats for Solitaries and Covens, “The ancient people of Europe left their legacy in stone all over the continent, the Mediterranean area, and the British Isles in the form of standing stone circles, alignments, and dolmens… It has been known for a long time that these places mark the rising and setting of the sun at the winter and summer solstices. They also mark lunar cycles, eclipses, and other astrological events.”
Stonehenge image by janeb13 from CC0 via Canva