An eclectic mix of druids, hippies and sun worshippers gathered at Stonehenge this morning to watch dawn break on the longest day of the year.
Revellers cheered at 4:52am as the sun rose over the ancient stone circle on Salisbury Plain, in the English county of Wiltshire. In past years spirits have been dampened by the unpredicatable British weather, but the 2010 Summer Solstice saw the crowd treated to clear views of the sunrise.
20,000 people gathered at Stonehenge – an impressive number despite a marked reduction from last year’s record of 36,500, which probably came as a relief to police (who only made 15 arrests!) and those tasked with the preservation of the stones themselves.
Last week it was announced that £10 million funding for a new visitor centre at the prehistoric monument had been axed in the light of Britain’s fragile economic state. Even so, it’s unlikely to diminish Stonehenge’s popularity with tourists, druids, hippies and pagans from around the world.
(Image available in public domain)
Stonehenge is more than just a prehistoric monument built and reveered by ancient man before being revitalised by a group of modern day pagans and those who enjoy staying up all night. The enigmatic stones have been part of the fabric of local folklore for millenia. In the last several hundred years, Stonehenge has appealed to countless landscape artists who’ve all sort to capture its solitary beauty in their own unique ways. John Constable’s painting above captures the monument in all its mysterious glory, bathed in sunlight as a storm brews above Salisbury Plain.