Thousands mark start of year’s longest day at neolithic site in Wiltshire and nearby Avebury stone circle

(The Guardian) Thousands of people descended on Stonehenge to mark this year’s summer solstice.

Police said around 23,000 were at the neolithic site in Wiltshire on Sunday, down on the estimated 36,000 who attended last year and the 30,000 expected. Other revellers – including hippies and pagans – visited the nearby Avebury stone circle to witness the sun rising on the longest day of the year

Despite cloud in the area, visitors were able to get a glimpse of the sun after it came over the horizon at 4.52am. People beat their drums and pointed their cameras at Stonehenge just as the sun appeared. Some visitors said this year’s solstice sunrise was one of the best they had seen.

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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.

More than a million people flock to Stonehenge each year, and thousands attend ceremonies to mark the solstices in summer and winter.

The summer solstice, the longest day of the year, happens when the tilt of Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun and usually occurs on 21 June, but can also occur on 20 and 22 June.

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Source: The Guardian

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