Clouds rather than crowds have greeted the summer solstice at Britain’s iconic Stonehenge, while technical difficulties prevented thousands from watching online at sunrise.
The neolithic Wiltshire monument in England’s southwest had been preparing for a return to welcoming visitors in person until Boris Johnson’s government delayed the easing of coronavirus lockdown into July.
Normally, up to 30,000 people would gather to watch the sun rise over the stones on the longest day of the year, but for the second consecutive year restrictions instead turned the event into a virtual one.
Thousands tuned in on English Heritage’s Facebook page and YouTube but technical problems meant the live feed was not available at 4.52am, when the sun rose.
The feed returned around 5am, but the sunrise was obscured by cloudy skies.
Meanwhile, police closed off an area at nearby Avebury stone circle over fears restrictions at Stonehenge would lead people to gather there.
Wiltshire Police posted on social media they had closed off access following the arrival of a large number of vehicles.
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, an important site for pagans and druids, for thousands of years.