Thousands mark summer solstice sunrise at Stonehenge

Thousands of people have greeted the sun with cheers as it rose over Stonehenge for summer solstice.

Those who observed the spectacle at the neolithic Wiltshire monument encountered a chilly morning accompanied by clear skies as the sun glinted over the horizon at 4.52am.

Kate Logan, English Heritage’s director of Stonehenge, said it was “one of the highlights of the year” at the popular site.

A woman performs yoga at Stonehenge. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

“There was a lovely, friendly atmosphere throughout, the sun shone and the dawn was greeted with loud cheers,” she said.

People watch the sun rise at the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

Stonehenge is a monument built on the alignment of the midsummer sunrise and the midwinter sunset.

On the summer solstice, the Sun rises behind the Heel Stone, the ancient entrance to the Stone Circle, and rays of sunlight are channelled into the centre of the monument.

It is believed that solstices have been celebrated at Stonehenge for thousands of years.

Stonehenge has been drawing in visitors for the solstice for thousands of years. Credit: PA

English Heritage used the occasion to launch its new live feed of the sky above the ancient monument, which globally shares the journey of the stars and the moon from within the stone circle.

The sun marks the summer solstice as it rises above a farmhouse near Honley in West Yorkshire. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock said she hoped the feed inspires “people all over the world to go outside, and look up”.

Summer solstice takes place as one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the sun and the sun reaches its highest position in the sky, ensuring the longest period of daylight for year.