Summer solstice draws thousands to Stonehenge

Crowds gather at dawn amongst the stones at Stonehenge
Image caption The sun rose at 04:52 although the cloud was too dense for people to see it

Thousands of people have gathered at Stonehenge for the sunrise on the longest day of the year.

Spectators were joined by pagans and druids at the ancient monument in Wiltshire, but the dense cloud cover meant the sun remained hidden.

Police, who estimated 21,000 people attended, targeted the crowds with sniffer dogs and took 22 people into custody for drugs-related offences.

The solstice has had spiritual significance for thousands of years.

The word itself means a stopping or standing still of the sun.

Cannabis warnings

A crowd had gathered to spend the night near the giant stones, with police reporting 2,000 people on site by 21:30 BST on Thursday.

The sun then rose at 04:52 on the longest day of the year.

Supt Matt Pullen, from Wiltshire Police, said: "The majority of people respected the conditions of entry and the amnesty bins provided were used.

"Approximately 70 cannabis street warnings were issued. As with previous years, the passive drugs dogs proved very effective."

Twenty-two miles away (35km) at Avebury, where there are three stone circles, the crowd peaked at some 500 people.

BBC Radio Wiltshire reporter Rachel Royce said: "There are some very serious druids here in their long cloaks, taking it very solemnly. There are also some party-goers, and ordinary visitors who love the atmosphere.

"It really is a very peaceful and nice event."

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites