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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 07:18 GMT 08:18 UK
Solstice revellers watch sunrise
Revellers at Stonehenge for the solstice
Revellers said the sunrise over the stones was "spectacular"
More than 30,000 people gathered at Stonehenge in Wiltshire to mark the summer solstice.

Ahead of the midsummer event police warned people not to hold any unlicensed "mass gatherings" afterwards.

English Heritage reopened the site to the public after the closures and clashes of previous years.

Astrologer Roy Gillett, who was among the crowds there to watch the sunrise just before 0500 BST, said it was important to celebrate this the longest day of the year.

Mobile phone taking picture
Friends shared the dawn experience
He said druids were joined at the 5,000 year-old World Heritage site by anyone who wanted to "keep in touch with the flow of nature".

Revellers were delighted that the good weather allowed the sunrise to be seen over the ancient stones.

The sight of the sun breaking through trees on the horizon over the Heel Stone was met with a loud chorus of drums, whistles, whoops and shrieks and music from samba-style bands.

Because the solstice was at a weekend many more people were able to make the pilgrimage to Wiltshire from all over the country.

The crowd was a mix of druids, pagans, new age travellers, nature lovers and anyone else curious to take part in the experience.

Primary school teachers Eileen Horner, 61, and Maggie Shepherd, 53, were first-timers despite living nearby in Salisbury.

"It's good fun and everybody seems to be enjoying themselves.

"We haven't come in the past because it's usually on a work day so we've taken advantage this year."

Party warning

Police were on patrol in case of trouble but a Wiltshire force spokesman said there had only been about 10 arrests.

These were mainly for minor offences such as public order breaches, drunkenness and drug possession.

Police in the neighbouring county of Hampshire had warned they would not tolerate any illegal gatherings after the solstice.

Officers were out in force in the area between Basingstoke, Andover and the Wiltshire border and thwarted any attempts to hold parties.

Earlier Superintendent Mark Chatterton, Andover's divisional commander, said: "We are not being killjoys, we are all in favour of people having a good time provided the event is properly licensed to ensure that it is safe for everyone."




SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Solstice at Stonehenge
21 Jun 03  |  Photo Gallery
Draft Stonehenge plans published
05 Jun 03  |  Wiltshire
Stonehenge tunnel approved
10 Dec 02  |  England


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