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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December 2004, 11:00 GMT
Stonehenge marks winter solstice
Sun rising over Stonehenge
Dozens attended the event
Hundreds of people gathered at Stonehenge on Tuesday to celebrate the winter solstice.

A crowd of around 600 braved the cold and cloudy conditions in the hope of witnessing sunrise at the prehistoric site in Wiltshire.

A further 60 also celebrated the solstice at the ancient stone circle at Avebury, also in Wiltshire.

The Winter solstice is the cause for a pagan celebration held on the shortest day of the year.

Peter Carson, Stonehenge director, said hopes of a dramatic sunrise had been scuppered by poor weather conditions.

People are becoming more aware it is possible to get into Stonehenge
Peter Carson, Stonehenge
"We were very hopeful that there may be a chink in the cloud and there may be sunrise," he said.

"But unfortunately, lower cloud came over and obscured the view."

Mr Carson said the crowd, a mix of druids, pagans and curious tourists, still enjoyed the celebrations.

Usually, around 300 to 400 people visit the site for the winter solstice.

Mr Carson believes a heightened awareness of Stonehenge may be behind the increased levels of interest.

Plans to build a new visitors' centre at the site and re-route a busy road away from the stones have recently received much publicity.

"People are also becoming more aware it is possible to get into Stonehenge for the winter solstice, as well as the summer solstice," Mr Carson said.

More than 20,000 people usually attend the annual summer solstice celebrations at the site.

Thousands gather at Stonehenge
21 Jun 04 |  Wiltshire


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