Staff from the Science Museum Swindon marked the longest day of the year by cycling the 8 miles from the Museum site at Wroughton, just outside Swindon, to Avebury to celebrate the rising of the summer solstice sun, setting off at the shattering time of 3.30am.
The bike ride began at the Hackpen part of the Museum site, taking in the historic Ridgeway arriving at the Avebury rings to watch the sun rise just before 5am. The Science Museum team made the journey on their modern bicycles, early and revolutionary versions of which can be found in the Museum's collections.
Avebury is regarded as a spiritual centre by many who profess beliefs such as Paganism, Wicca, Druidry, and Heathenry. For some people it is more significant than Stonehenge, and importantly to museum staff, it is also thought to be a hub for some of the earliest scientific activity.
The stones provided some of the world's first scientific instruments which were used for measuring the sun's orbit. Through the bike ride Museum staff are keen to appreciate the link between the inspiration that these stones have provided to large numbers of people and the thousands of objects that the Museum will use to enthuse the public through Inspired.
The Pagan festivals at Avebury are renowned for attracting large numbers of visitors from across the country, and the summer solstice especially draws increasingly large crowds ranging from the religious to the idly curious.
Matt Moore, Public Engagement Officer at Science Museum Swindon, said, "Our third annual pilgrimage to Avebury has special resonance for Science Museum staff as these ancient artefacts are part of a long history of inspiring objects that have paved the way for human creativity. Whatever the original function of Avebury, people learn from and enjoy exploring the past, which is a key element of Inspired. At Inspired you will be able to discover more about your past and how we can go on to create our future through fun and exciting experiences."
Science Museum to become Inspired
Unleash your creativity in a wondrous arena that makes science serious fun for all. Inspired at the Science Museum Swindon, opening in 2010, will be a breathtaking showcase unlike any other in the world. From the mind-boggling quarter of a million exhibits to the sheer magnitude of the 545-acre site, Inspired knows no boundaries and neither will you. By injecting wonder and excitement back into science, this treasure-trove will be a hothouse for stimulating aspiring scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs. It will encompass spectacular shows, live experiments, hands-on workshops and artefacts that are the envy of the world. You won't be a visitor to Inspired – you'll become part of a phenomenon that is crucial and seriously fun. It's your future – be Inspired.
How to register support
By texting SMS Inspired to 88833 anyone can sign up to Inspired, receiving free updates and the latest news as it happens on this exciting project or check the website www.voteinspired.org.uk.