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19 June 2005
Stonehenge open for sunrise event

English Heritage is again allowing public access to the 5,000-year-old Stonehenge stone circle for this year's summer solstice celebrations. Sunrise will occur at 0458 BST on Tuesday, 21 June, on what is the longest day of the year. The monument and car park will be open throughout the previous night. Access to the stones will be free but subject to safety conditions. Animals, fireworks and loud music are banned and climbing on the stones is prohibited.
     Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: "We are very pleased to be welcoming people to Stonehenge once again to enjoy the summer solstice. This builds on the considerable success of the celebrations in previous years. Summer solstice is a special time which means different things to different people. We work closely with many agencies and people from all sectors of the community to ensure that everyone who comes to solstice is able to enjoy the occasion safely and peacefully. Over the last few years, English Heritage has successfully balanced the solstice with the need to protect the stone circle and its surrounding monuments.
     Staff at Stonehenge and other English Heritage sites are planning a two-hour stoppage later the same day. Their union said it was protesting at an imposed pay rise of 1.5% coupled with job losses and claimed that the heritage body was facing a financial crisis.
     An EH spokeswoman said Stonehenge would be totally unaffected because the site closed every year following the summer solstice gathering. She said they expected around 21,000 people for the celebrations, starting at 2200 BST on 20 June and finishing at sunrise on 21 June. The site is cleared and tidied up from 0900 and reopens on 22 June, she added.

Source: BBC News (16 and 17 June 2005)

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