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More than 10,000 gather at Stonehenge to witness Summer solstice sunrise

Credit: English Heritage

More than ten thousand people gathered at Stonehenge to witness the sun rise for the summer solstice.

Approximately 13,000 people descended on the neolithic monument in Wiltshire to watch the sun rise at 4.52am - up from 12,000 last year.

Jennifer Davies, English Heritage's general manager of Stonehenge, said they were "delighted" that so many of all ages came to celebrate the longest day of the year.

We'd like to thank everybody who helped to make it another memorable and good-natured occasion and we look forward to seeing them again next year.

We are pleased with how the celebrations have gone.

Summer solstice at Stonehenge is a major operation and we couldn't do it without our partners, especially Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Council."

– Jennifer Davies, English Heritage's general manager of Stonehenge
Credit: English Heritage

Stonehenge is believed to have been used as an important religious site by early Britons 4,000 years ago. Pagan celebrations at the site began in the 20th century.

Wiltshire Police: Stonehenge solstice - 2 arrests, largely a "... positive, friendly atmosphere"

Two arrests at summer solstice events in Wiltshire Credit: Wiltshire Police

Wiltshire Police have said that Summer Solstice celebrations at both Stonehenge near Salisbury and Avebury have been peaceful on the whole.

About 12,000 people were at Stonehenge to see the sunrise on the longest day of the year. A 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and taken to Melksham Custody; a woman aged 33 was arrested on suspicion of of drink driving; and a man was given a fixed penalty notice for a drug offence.

Around 400 people gathered at Avebury - there were no arrests.

“The policing operation this year focused on protecting the monument and environment by maintaining the integrity of the road network, minimising any impact on local communities and ultimately supporting English Heritage to ensure a safe and peaceful event for all.

"With an event of this size and nature a large amount of traffic is inevitable but our forward planning with Wiltshire Council, security staff and stewards, the Highways Agency and English Heritage meant that any issues were dealt with effectively.

"These changes for Solstice 2016 have proved a great success, with people celebrating at Stonehenge in a positive, friendly atmosphere as they waited for the sunrise."

– Supt Mark Sellers, Wiltshire Police


More pictures from Stonehenge

Around 14,500 people danced through the morning at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice, despite the gloomy weather.

Police say it "has been a positive experience for the majority of visitors".

People dancing through the gloomy morning. Credit: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
'King Arthur Pendragon' leaves the Stonehenge monument in southern England, during the summer solstice Credit: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
People gather at the Stonehenge monument in southern England, during the summer solstice Credit: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
People gather at the Stonehenge monument Credit: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

Seeing in the Solstice

Revellers at Stonehenge this morning Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Poor weather could not dampen the spirits of 14,500 people at Stonehenge at dawn this morning.

The annual pagan celebration of the sun, on the longest day of the year, centred on the famous prehistoric monument where the event was marked with religious ceremonies.

Hugging the stones at Stonehenge Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/Press Association Images

The solstice annually attracts an eclectic mix and among the druids, revellers and sun worshippers were those just curious to experience the spiritual event on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.

English Heritage opened up the stone circle yesterday evening ready to welcome those making the pilgrimage.

Heavy rain overnight reduced the number of people who camped out or arrived early to witness the dawn compared with previous years, which have seen numbers of around 20,000.

The sunrise came at 4.52am and was welcomed by rain-sodden crowds with a loud cheer and applause.


14,500 people enjoy 'Summer' Solstice at Stonehenge

Twitter pictures from Stonehenge Credit: Martha Mavroleon

Wiltshire Police say: "Solstice 2012 has been a positive experience for the majority ofvisitors to Stonehenge. Despite the rain there were approximately 14,500 people who came to enjoy the celebrations.

"Our aim was to make sure that everybody had a safe and enjoyable evening which, along with our partners, we achieved. As with every year, sadly there was a small minority who were determinedto disregard the law.

"These people were dealt with robustly and there were 20 arrests throughout the night. We would like to thank of all our partners for yet another successful event."

Twitter pictures from Stonehenge Credit: Rob Harvey
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