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Summer solstice 2017: Stonehenge crowds as sun rises

  • summer solstice
  • summer solstice

Summer solstice at Stonehenge

About 13,000 people watched the sunrise at Stonehenge on Wednesday morning, on the longest day of the year.

The sun rose at the historic monument in Wiltshire at 04:52 BST.

English Heritage opens the site up every year for the solstice, giving people a rare chance to get up close to the monument.

Armed police were on patrol, and extra security measures were put in place following the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester.

Wiltshire Police said the event passed peacefully, but that there were seven “mostly drug-related” arrests.

“This was a successful policing operation with only seven arrests, and we are glad that attendees were able to enjoy the celebrations in a friendly and positive manner as they waited for the sunrise,” said Supt Dave Minty.

Summer solstice at Stonehenge

Summer solstice at Stonehenge

Summer solstice at Stonehenge

Those visiting were not allowed access if they had brought pets, sleeping bags and duvets, barbecues or camping equipment.

The flying of drones and remote-controlled aircraft was also banned around the monument.

The site’s general manager, Jennifer Davies, said she was “delighted” so many people celebrated the longest day of the year at Stonehenge.

“This year we had extra security arrangements in place and we’d like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding with these,” she added.

More than a million people each year flock to the neolithic site, built more than 4,000 years ago.

It is thought ancient Britons built the massive monument as a religious site, to study and celebrate the movements of the sun and moon, or as a place of burial or healing.

 

Summer solstice at Stonehenge

Summer solstice at Stonehenge

Summer solstice at Stonehenge

The summer and winter solstices hold particular significance for Pagans.

The summer solstice is celebrated as a “time of plenty and celebration”, according to the Pagan Federation, while the winter solstice is deemed even more important because it marks the “re-birth” of the sun for the new year.

This year, armed police were on patrol near to the site, to “reassure” visitors in the wake of the recent terror attacks.

The Pagan Federation said it “sadly accepted” the need for such security measures.

David Spofforth from the organisation said it was “very sad” that armed police were necessary.

“I am not saying I am welcoming this, I sadly accept it,” he said.

English Heritage said it hoped this year’s solstice festival would be the “greenest solstice yet”, by encouraging people to either car share or travel by public transport.

Parking charges of £15 have caused controversy after a senior druid lost a court battle against “pay to pray” charges which he said breached his human rights.

Summer solstice at Stonehenge

Summer solstice at Stonehenge

Pictures from the Press Association.

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