Wiltshire

Stonehenge crowds gather to celebrate winter solstice

Winter solstice Stonehenge 2013
Image caption More than 3,500 people watched the sunrise at 08:09 GMT

Thousands of people have gathered to mark the winter solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire.

English Heritage said more than 3,500 people watched the sunrise at 08:09 GMT and described the event as "a success".

Druids and pagans are among those who mark the solstice at Stonehenge on the shortest day each year in the northern hemisphere.

Wiltshire Police said it was more difficult to accommodate people during the winter due to "limited parking".

Insp Christian Laynge said: "We try our best to plan for this but we can't use the local fields like we do for the summer solstice where we get 20,000 to 30,000 people turning up.

Image caption English Heritage said Stonehenge was filled with "drumming and chanting"

"We're really limited here because we can't use local fields for parking and we can't use anywhere else, so once we're up to 5,000 people, that's it, we have to close it off."

Kate Davies, who manages Stonehenge for English Heritage, said: "We were delighted to welcome over 3,500 people to Stonehenge to celebrate winter solstice.

"The wind and the rain did not dampen the celebration. And the ancient stone circle was filled with the sound of song, drumming and chanting.

"We are grateful to everyone who helped to make this winter solstice a success and we look forward to seeing people at the summer solstice next year."

Claire, a pagan from Bristol, attended the event with her seven-year-old daughter. She said: "We arrived at 5.30am - it's a wonderful place. You don't have to be pagan to enjoy it - even the weather won't put you off."

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