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30 June 2003
30,000 celebrate summer solstice at Stonehenge

Tens of thousands of sun worshippers have been treated to a spectacular dawn as they saw in the summer solstice at Stonehenge. Police and English Heritage said about 30,000 gathered at the ancient monument to witness the sunrise.
     The 5,000-year-old World Heritage site in Wiltshire was opened to the public for the usual mix of druids, pagans, new age travellers. Onlookers were curious to experience what has become a traditional start to the longest day of the year.  
     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 deafening chorus of drums, whistles, whoops and shrieks and an increase in volume from the gathered Samba-style bands.
     The standing stones had been off-limits in recent years following a number of clashes between solstice worshippers and police. But monument caretakers English Heritage reopened the site to the public providing a number of conditions are met, including not bringing glass bottles and pets and no climbing on the stones.
     English Heritage chief executive Dr Simon Thurley said: "Summer solstice is a special time which means different things to different people. This year we are giving more access in daylight hours which will be far safer, and more family friendly than the all-night access we had in the past."

Sources: Ananova, Sky News (21 June 2003), BBC News (23 June 2003)

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