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Stonehenge summer solstice: Thousands gather to cheer sunrise

media captionSummer solstice at Stonehenge

Thousands of people cheered sunrise at Stonehenge on summer solstice.

About 10,000 people gathered at the Neolithic monument to greet the start of the longest day of the year, according to Wiltshire Police.

Kate Logan, from English Heritage, said: "There was a lovely, friendly atmosphere, the sun shone and the dawn was greeted with loud cheers."

The celebrations at Stonehenge came as people descended on sites across the UK to celebrate the first day of summer.

Glastonbury Tor in Somerset and the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire also attracted crowds.

Stonehenge is a monument that aligns to 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.

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image copyrightReuters

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.

Ms Logan said it was "one of the highlights of the year" at the ancient site.

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image captionA moment of reflection at Stonehenge

Police arrested four people at Stonehenge and a fifth was detained in Avebury.

A 25-year-old man from Warminster was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving; a 15-year-old girl from Bulford was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly; a 44-year-old man from Salisbury was arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure and a 19-year-old man from the Isle of Wight was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.

In Avebury, a 45-year-old man from Great Somerford was arrested on suspicion of common assault.

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image copyrightReuters
image captionRevellers celebrate the summer solstice as the sun rises at Glastonbury Tor in Glastonbury

Among those taking photographs of the stunning skies above Somerset from Glastonbury Tor was Michelle Cowbourne.

"Look at the beautiful colours in the sky before sunrise," she said in a Tweet, in which she shared her pictures.

"What a beautiful morning," she added.

image copyright@Glastomichelle
image captionGlastonbury Tor

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 in the year.

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

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image captionThe longest day of the year at Seahouses, Northumberland.
image copyrightReuters
image captionA woman watches the sun rise during the summer solstice, seen from atop the London Eye, in London
image copyrightPA
image captionPeople gather around stones at the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire

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Related Topics

  • Historic England
  • Stonehenge

More on this story

  • Armed police to guard Stonehenge solstice celebration