Revellers gather to celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge ancient stone circle, despite official events being cancelled (Image: REUTERS)
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Summer solstice revellers swarmed Stonehenge on the longest day of the year despite Covid cancelling the annual event.
The gathering at Stonehenge was cancelled for the second year running after the Government delayed the next stage of lockdown easing.
But police said they were forced to close access to part of the Ridgeway after a large number of cars turning up.
Photos show a crowd gathered at the ancient stone circle, some with their hands in the air.
One woman looked up at the sky, another stood on top of a stone, while one reveller sat silently alone behind one of the monuments with her eyes shut.
People were wrapped up warm for the early morning chill
People wrapped up warm for the early morning sunrise.
One reveller appeared to be climbing over a fence to get closer to the site despite no official event.
Officers in high visibility jackets could be seen at the scene.
English Heritage also pulled a live feed of the summer solstice sunrise at Stonehenge after people disregarded advice not to travel to the site.
A woman looking up at the sky at Stonehenge
The organisation said safety reasons were behind the lack of an available live feed of the neolithic Wiltshire monument at sunrise at 4.52am.
The feed returned around 5am, but the sunrise was obscured as the skies were cloudy.
Apologising for the outage, host Ed Shires said: “I must say we have been disappointed that a number of people have chosen to disregard our request to not travel to the stones this morning and that is the reason why we haven’t been able to bring you the pictures that we would have liked to have done.
Crowds gathered despite official advice
“It is disappointing to see that happen but unfortunately in those kind of situations we have to put the safety of our staff members first and that’s why we have had some interruption this morning.
“We have been told by police that people have now been dispersed and the situation is under control.”
Normally between 7,000 and 30,000 people would gather to watch the sunrise over the stones on the longest day of the year.
English Heritage took the decision to close Stonehenge in Amesbury, Wiltshire, for the annual celebration this year.
Security in high vis jackets at the scene
But police have closed off an area near to Avebury stone circle in a bid to stop people congregating.
Wiltshire Police has posted on social media that it has closed off access to part of the Ridgeway following the arrival of a large number of vehicles.
It posted: "We have taken the difficult decision to prevent further access to part of the Ridgeway, near Avebury, to maintain public safety and prevent potential damage to nearby farmland.
This is in response to large numbers of people and vehicles in the area."
A reveller seen climbing over a fence to get into Stonehenge
Visit Avebury posted: Avebury update. "@wiltshirepolice have taken the difficult decision to prevent further access to part of the Ridgeway, near Avebury, to maintain public safety and prevent potential damage to nearby farmland. This is in response to large numbers of people and vehicles in the area."
A statement on the English Heritage website reads: "With this week's news that the Government is delaying the lifting of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June and following discussions with Wiltshire Council's Public Health team and Wiltshire Police, English Heritage has taken the extremely difficult decision to cancel the planned Summer Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge this year.
A woman sits on the ground as security stand guard
"Sunset and sunrise will be live-streamed for free on English Heritage's social media channels and will include exclusive interviews and music.
"English Heritage will also ensure that small, pre-booked groups from the pagan and druid community can gather on the days around the Summer Solstice to mark this important moment in their calendar."
On the summer solstice at Stonehenge when skies are clear, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone, the ancient entrance to the stone circle, and rays of sunlight are channelled into the centre of the monument.
It is believed solstices have been celebrated at Stonehenge for thousands of years.