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Monday, December 24, 2012

Crowd Gathers at Stonehenge for Winter Solstice

More than 5,000 people have gathered to mark the winter solstice at Stonehenge.

The attendance was equivalent to five times the number that turned out at Salisbury Plain for last year's event.

More people had been predicted to congregate, as the date coincides with the end of the 5,125-year "long count" cycle of the Mayan calendar.

Druids and pagans are among those who head to Stonehenge each December to watch the sunrise on the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

Wiltshire Police said "well over" 5,000 people had gathered to watch the sunrise over the giant stones at 08:05 GMT. The force said one person was arrested for being drunk and disorderly, and given a fixed penalty notice.

BBC Wiltshire reporter Annie Weston, at the scene, said: "This is the only time when people are allowed into the circle of stones.

"It is absolutely packed. People are cheering and chanting and everybody was looking towards the sun for that special moment.

"There are flags flying, druids here too and people of various religions and faiths."

She spoke with Shelby McCabe, from Honolulu in Hawaii, who said it was "the perfect day".

"All my friends are very jealous that I am here. They would love to be here. They told me to take 1,000 photos which I think I've done," she said.

Donna Nicholson, from Swindon, woke up at 03:00 GMT to get to the stones on time.

She said it was "exciting" to be there for the "new birth of a new era".

This year's solstice date also marks the conclusion of the long count cycle of the Mayan calendar, which some people believe indicates the end of the world.

Although the exact time of the solstice this year - when the Earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun - is at 11:11 GMT, English Heritage provided access to the stones earlier in the morning.

Source: BBC


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