STONEHENGE, England – More than 20,000 people braved heavy rain and clouds of cannabis smoke to celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge.
The ancient monument rang to the sounds of drumming and a saxophone as the Sun rose unseen above the Heel Stone at 4:58 a.m.
Druids, pagans, punks and New Age travellers mingled with the merely curious, despite the unfortunate weather.It was the first gathering at Stonehenge since the reclassification of cannabis and police were concentrating their attention on those suspected of possession with intent to supply rather than just smoking it.
The ceremonies were led by the self-styled Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon, who lit a fire to mark the imminent arrival of dawn.
“The fire welcomes the Sun for the longest day of the year, part of the seasonal wheel which we as Druids and pagans celebrate,” he said. “At the end of the day, this living temple we call Stonehenge belongs to all of us. We all have a right to come here and celebrate the solstice.”
Despite clear skies throughout the night, a ring of low cloud threatened to blot out the spectacle of the Sun rising in line with the stones as dawn approached.
To a chorus of applause from the crowds, it finally appeared above the cloud at 6:15 a.m., a late but welcome appearance. Peter Carson, who manages Stonehenge on behalf of English Heritage, said: “It’s wonderful. We are delighted that people have been able to come here and enjoy the solstice in a safe and peaceful manner.”