Thousands danced and sang and celebrated the sunrise at Stonehenge on Saturday on this summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.
The Associated Press said the site was filled with new-agers, revelers practicing yoga, pagans and modern-day Druids — what the Guardian calls a “bogus deep-time tradition.”
The peaceful crowd numbered about 37,000, with 25 arrests, mostly for drug-related offenses. The sunrise was visible and the weather was dry, which The Bath Chronicle says hasn’t happened in years.
The stones, on Salisbury Plain about 80 miles southwest of London, is part of one of the densest concentrations of prehistoric structures in the world, writes Laura Miller in the New Yorker. The stone structure itself is closed off to foot traffic except on the summer and winter solstices.
The visitor center at Stonehenge was rebuilt this year, further from the ancient stones and designed to blend with the landscape. A highway, the A344, which paved over a 4,500-year-old path worn into the field, was decommissioned and reseeded with grass, Miller explains.
“These changes, along with the more distant placement of the new visitor center, are intended to return the landscape of Stonehenge to the ‘solemn and lonely’ setting described in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, when Tess and Angel Clare stumble into the stones in the dark after her flight from the law.”