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Thousands mark Summer solstice in an annual celebration at Stonehenge

Stonehenge at the Summer solstice
Stonehenge at the Summer solstice Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Philip Andrew Churm with AP
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Thousands of people have celebrated the Summer Solstice by the ancient stone circles at Stonehenge in southern England

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Celebrating a unique, once-a-year experience, a disparate gathering of revellers came together at Stonehenge in southern England to mark the summer solstice, the longest day in the northern hemisphere. 

Druids, hippies and the simply curious sang, danced and chanted as the sun rose over the ancient, mysterious stones, looming over Salisbury Plain.

The World Heritage site was open to the public from 7pm UK time on Tuesday to 8am on Wednesday; the one night of the year when people are allowed to stay for an extended period inside the stone circle.

For druids, modern-day spiritualists linked to the ancient Celtic religious order, Stonehenge has a centuries-long importance, and they will be there to perform dawn rituals around the solstice in their traditional white robes. It's effectively all about the cycle of life, of death and rebirth.

Stonehenge, one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments and a World Heritage Site, was built on the flat lands of Salisbury Plain in stages starting 5,000 years ago, with the unique stone circle erected in the late Neolithic period about 2,500 B.C.

Some of the stones, the so-called bluestones, are known to have come from the Preseli Hills in southwest Wales, nearly 240 kilometres away but the origins of others remain a mystery.

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