UPn 06/21 0549 Dawn breaks quietly at Stonehenge
By KARIN DAVIES
LONDON (UPI) -- The first day of summer broke quietly at Stonehenge Thursday,
ending several years of confrontration between sun worshipers, nomads and the
police who have barred them from reaching the ancient stones in an annual rite.
The 200 people who breached the 4-mile exclusion zone surrounding the circle
of stones on the Salisbury Plain, 80 miles southwest of London, were outnumbered
by 800 police, said Wiltshire Police Inspector John Mason.
Twenty-six people were arrested, 20 for violating an order closing the Stone
Age relic through Sunday, five for drug offenses and one for stealing an
automobile, he said.
"We're very pleased that not all that many travelers showed up compared with
previous years," Mason said.
English Heritage, responsible for protecting Britain's antiquities, said it
was anxious to open discussions with police and the public to consider reopening
the monument for summer solstice in future years.
As on each cloudless morning of June 21, the first rays of the dawn of the
longest day of the year were framed by the main arch at Stonehenge.
Druids once conducted a solstice ceremony within the circle and some people
believe the event is magical. Millions have flocked to the site over the
Police were enforcing a Wiltshire Council order that prohibits processions
within a 4-mile radius of Stonehenge through June 24. The edict was issued for a
second year to protect the monument and prevent a repeat of violence that
occurred two years ago when 5,000 people came to the site.
About 1,000 people hurling rocks, iron bars and bottles clashed with police
at Stonehenge in 1988, turning the mystical dawn rite into a riot under the
floodlights of a police helicopter that ended with 115 arrests.
Last year, 261 people hoping to reach the ancient monument were arrested 2
miles away. About 800 police from 12 forces were deployed.
Local landowners also obtained injunctions to prevent people from camping on
Most travelers this year said they decided to avoid the risk of approaching
Stonehenge and instead would head to the Glastonbury festival, 40 miles away.
The Musicians Network issued a flier advertising a "birthday suit party"
Thursday, and urging readers to "do the Stonehenge streak."