More Than 20,000 Gather to Celebrate Summer Solstice at Stonehedge

by Dr. Enozia Vakil on  June 22, 2013 at 5:57 PM Lifestyle News   - G J E 4
More than 20,000 people gathered at the Stonehedge on Friday to celebrate summer solstice before the start of a £27 million project involving the renovation of the site.
 More Than 20,000 Gather to Celebrate Summer Solstice at Stonehedge
More Than 20,000 Gather to Celebrate Summer Solstice at Stonehedge

Pagans, modern druids, New Age travellers and tourists crowded around the ring of standing stones in Wiltshire to catch a glimpse of the sun rising on the longest day of the year, though cloud cover prevented them from basking in the morning's rays.

The festival, which dates back thousands of years, marks the onset of summer when the sun is at its maximum elevation.

The word solstice is derived from the Latin words "sol" (or sun) and "sistere" meaning to stand still.

Police said the gathering marked the event in a "positive, friendly atmosphere", though there were a total of 22 arrests mainly in relation to drugs offences after sniffer dogs were used.

A section of the road running alongside the neolithic monument, which archaeologists believe was erected between 3,000 and 2,000 BC, will be permanently closed on Monday June 24 as part of a long-awaited refurbishment of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The closure and grassing over of the A344 road is aimed at reconnecting Stonehenge with the landscape, allowing visitors to walk between the stone circle and the prehistoric avenue from which people would have once approached it.

The project, being carried out by English Heritage who manage the site, will include the creation of a visitor centre around 1.5 miles (2.41 kilometres) away from the monument, with a cafe, shop and museum showing artefacts and exploring theories about Stonehenge's origins.

Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge director at English Heritage, said the closure of the road was "a real milestone in terms of the history of the site".

She said that although Stonehenge never failed to impress visitors, the setting of the stones near a road had marred people's appreciation and enjoyment of the monument.

Source: AFP

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