Dawn revellers greet summer solstice
More than 30,000 summer solstice revellers refused to let a chilly, wet morning dampen their spirits as they welcomed the longest day of the year.
It was the biggest turnout for five years at Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, where dawn broke at 4.58am and was met by a large cheer from the gathered crowd.
Thousands arrived at the world-famous stone circle overnight, despite rain falling in Wiltshire, and gathered at the Heel stone
Peter Rawcliffe, 26, a toy designer from Oxford said: “I’ve done this for the last three years, I suppose I’m a bit of a closet druid. Most of the year I go about my business, but summer solstice brings out the hippie in me. It’s a really magical experience.”
A spokeswoman for English Heritage, which runs the 5,000-year-old site, said today's turnout was the biggest since 2003.
She added: “It’s been very wet and soggy. I don’t think it will discourage people from coming again. A lot of people still want to come every year. Quite a few people come every year, and are quite hardy.”
The solstice, also known as the pagan festival of Litha, attracts people from across the country and has been celebrated for centuries.
Stonehenge was constructed so the rising sun only reached the middle of the stones for just one day of the year.
Pagans believe the summer solstice marks the marriage between the sun and the earth. In astronomical terms, it marks the day when the planet is most tilted towards the sun and produces the longest period of daylight of the year in the northern hemisphere.
Source: The Times