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Thousands celebrate summer solstice at Stonehenge

Published 21/06/2016

People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire to see in the new dawn during this year's Summer Solstice
People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire to see in the new dawn during this year's Summer Solstice
Members of the public take part in a yoga class as people gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire to see in the new dawn
People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire to see in the new dawn
Memebers fo the public make their way back to the car park at Stonehenge in Wiltshire after seeing in the new dawn
Members of the public rest against one of the stones at Stonehenge in Wiltshire
People gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire to see in the new dawn during this year's Summer Solstice
Members of the public watch the sun rise at Stonehenge as they see in the new dawn during this year's Summer Solstice
People gather at Stonehenge to see in the new dawn after this year's Summer Solstice
People take part in a yoga class as people gather at Stonehenge in Wiltshire

Thousands of people have celebrated the sun rising over Stonehenge for the summer solstice.

Approximately 12,000 people attended the neolithic Wiltshire monument to witness the sunrise at 4.52am.

The figure was down on the 25,000 expected and the 23,000 who descended on the site last year.

Wiltshire Police described events at Stonehenge and at the stone circle in nearby Avebury as "positive and peaceful".

There was a no-fly zone over the monument for drones and unmanned aerial vehicles during the solstice.

Revellers with alcohol, drugs, sleeping bags or pets were not allowed access to the site.

Police said a 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault, while a 33-year-old woman, from Burford, was held on suspicion of drink-driving. They were taken into custody at Melksham.

Another man was given a fixed penalty notice for a drug offence.

Superintendent Mark Sellers said: "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."

Up to 400 people marked the solstice at Avebury, where there were no arrests.

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

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

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