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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Peaceful start to summer solstice
Sunrise at Stonehenge - picture courtesy Paul McQuillan from Coombe Bissett, Wiltshire
Paul McQuillan took this photo of sunrise at Stonehenge
Celebrations to mark the summer solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire have passed off peacefully with only four arrests.

Police estimate around 17,000 people watched the sun rise at 0458 BST on Wednesday despite cloudy conditions.

English Heritage allows the public access to the 5,000-year-old stone circle for the annual event.

Drum-beating and chanting turned to cheering as the sun broke through the clouds shortly after 0500 BST.

Heavy overnight rain ensured numbers stayed well below the 20,000 expected to attend the annual revelry at the ancient stone circle on Salisbury Plain.

'Spectacularly unspectacular'

Although the rain had stopped by dawn this year's sunrise was cloudy, unlike the strikingly clear spectacle witnessed last year.

One reveller said: "Today's sunrise was spectacularly unspectacular."

Every year people flock to the 5,000-year-old site for an all-night party culminating in sunrise on the longest day of the year.

sunrise gary bray

A Wiltshire Police spokeswoman said officers made four arrests overnight, two for drunk and disorderly and two for minor public order offences.

"All in all it was quite a quiet night," she said.

"Not a massive turn-out and fairly subdued in atmosphere, even when the sun came up."

Police were urging drivers to take extra care around Stonehenge, Amesbury and Salisbury because of the large number of pedestrians.

Around 1,000 people are also reported to have gathered at the nearby Avebury stone circles to celebrate the solstice.

See the people at Stonehenge in Wiltshire

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