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1 July 2007
Summer solstice welcomed at Stonehenge

Druids, drummers, pagans and partygoers welcomed the sun as it rose above the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge on the longest day of the year the summer solstice. About 24,000 people gathered at the stone circle in Wiltshire, in southwestern England. Dancers writhed to the sound of drums and whistles as floodlights colored the ancient pillars shades of pink and purple. Couples snuggled under plastic sheets.
     Solstice celebrations were a highlight of the pre-Christian calendar. Bonfires, maypole dances, and courtship rituals linger on in many countries as holdovers from Europe's pagan past. In more recent years, New Age groups and others have turned to Stonehenge to celebrate the solstice, and the World Heritage Site has become a magnet for men and women seeking a spiritual experience or just wanting to have a good time. But the celebrations can also attract their share of troublemakers. Police closed the site in 1984 after repeated clashes with revelers. English Heritage, the monument's caretaker, began allowing full access to the Stonehenge again in 2000.
     Police and about 200 English Heritage stewards were deployed to keep the hedonists from getting out of hand. Police reported four arrests for public order violations.

Sources: Associated Press, Yahoo! News (21 June 2007)

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