BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 21 June, 2002, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Crowds gather for the solstice
People celebrate the solstice and prepare for the England game
Thoughts of Shizuoka at the Stonehenge solstice
The revellers were an eclectic mix of new age travellers, druids, hare-krishnas and others, who celebrated the summer solstice amid a cloud of smoke and incense haze.

There were an estimated 22,000 people at Stonehenge on Friday and police reported just 11 arrests, mainly for drink and drugs offences.

The dawn, although hidden by thick cloud, was greeted by the assembled crowds with a cacophony of gongs, drums, whistles and whoops.

This was only the third time in more than a decade that the stones have been open to the public for the summer solstice.

Exclusion zone

People started to gather at the site on Thursday night and were later allowed to congregate near the stones themselves.

In the past, clashes between crowds and the police - culminating in pitched battle in 1985 - led to a four-mile exclusion zone being set up around the site.

Climbing the stones
Vantage points were at a premium in the crowd
Superintendent Jeremy Wickham, who ran the police operation said: "It's fair to say the majority of people have been very well behaved and there has been a good atmosphere.

"There have been the odd bits and pieces, most of them drink or drug related, but I think we have learnt our lesson about how to do things over the years."

The day's other big event, England versus Brazil, was also celebrated with fans standing on the stones and some watching a portable television.

Throughout the dawn ceremony, the assembled Kings Drums group banged out a rhythm in their torch-lit parade akin to a Brazilian samba.

'Knives and goblets'

Traditional British witch John Rothwell said the atmosphere had been good.

Mr Rothwell, 39, a computer technician from Telford said: "It's such a cool place to be.

"People have been doing this since year dot, even though we have no written records of why.

"Everybody needs a reason to gather together, a place of reverence."

Chemist Dean Feebry, 27, from Staines said: "There's a very bizarre mix of people here, witches and druids with knives drinking out of silver goblets.

"But it's good, it's quite a spiritual place."

Early morning rainfall quickly dispersed the crowds with many expected to be trying to get away to watch the football.

They left English Heritage to reflect on a successful event.

Stonehenge director Clews Everard said: "There's been a really wonderful atmosphere and everyone seems to have been having a good time.

"It's good to see so many people of all different ages, classes, types and creeds enjoying themselves."


Click here to go to BBC Wiltshire

Talking PointFORUM
Ask a druid
Quiz Terry Dobney on summer solstice
See also:

21 Jun 02 | England
21 Jun 01 | UK
20 Jun 00 | UK
Internet links:


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

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes