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Summer solstice celebrated at Stonehenge for first time in three years

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Revellers gather to celebrate the Summer Solstice at sunrise at Stonehenge stone circle near Amesbury
Revellers gather to celebrate the Summer Solstice at sunrise at Stonehenge stone circle near Amesbury   -   Copyright  Credit: Reuters

Thousands of druids, pagans and New Age revellers greeted the summer solstice at Stonehenge, England, on Tuesday, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

About 6,000 people gathered at the ancient stone circle in southern England to watch the sunrise at 4:49 am local time, police said. 

It was the first time revellers have been permitted to gather for the solstice since 2019. The sunrise was streamed online in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The festival at Stonehenge is one of the oldest and most well-known summer solstice celebrations in the world.

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP
The festival at Stonehenge dates back thousands of yearsJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

The stone monument, carved and constructed at a time when there were no metal tools, symbolises Britain's semi-mythical pre-historic period and has spawned countless legends.

Andrew Matthews/PA
People watch the sunrise during the Summer Solstice festivities at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, Tuesday, June 21, 2022Andrew Matthews/PA

After two years of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people dressed as pagans and druids, as well as nature lovers and party-goers flocked to the great stone circle to watch the sunrise.

Andrew Matthews/PA
A woman dressed in pagan attire watches the sunrise at StonehengeAndrew Matthews/PA
Andrew Matthews/PA
Arthur Uther Pendragon, center, joins people as they gather at the Heel Stone at Stonehenge.Andrew Matthews/PA
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP or licensors
Revellers take photographs of the sunrise at StonehengeJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP or licensors
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP or licensors
The sun rises at StonehengeJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP or licensors

Stonehenge was built between 5,000 and 3,500 years ago on a windswept plain in southwest England by a sun-worshipping Neolithic culture. Experts still debate its purpose, but it is aligned so that on the summer solstice the sun rises behind the Heel Stone and rays of sunlight are channelled into the centre of the circle.