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Thousands mark summer solstice

Published 21/06/2015

Thousands of people have descended on Stonehenge to mark this year's summer solstice.

Police said around 23,000 attended the neolithic site in Wiltshire, with others - including hippies and pagans - visiting the nearby Avebury stone circle to witness the sun rising on the longest day of the year.

The figure was down on the estimated 36,000 who attended last year and the 30,000 expected, but they were able to get a glimpse of the sun after it came over the horizon at 4.52am, despite cloud in the area.

Police said arrests were lower than in previous years, with nine people being held for drugs offences at Stonehenge and a handful being cautioned for possession of Class A drugs, while no arrests were made at Avebury.

Wiltshire Police Superintendent Gavin Williams, who led the policing operation, said: "Solstice 2015 has been a great success with approximately 23,000 people celebrating at Stonehenge in the positive, friendly atmosphere as they waited for the sunrise. This year the crowds were able to see the sun as it appeared over the horizon, before it disappeared under low cloud.

"The success of the event depends largely on the good nature of those attending and we are pleased that people could enjoy solstice in the spirit of the event."

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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