PICTURES: Small Band of British Druids, Pagans, and Tradition-Lovers Mark Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: A druid named Merlin is seen at Stonehenge as the sun sets ahead of Summer Solstice on June 20, 2020 in Amesbury, United Kingdom. English Heritage, which manages the site, said 'Our priority is always to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff, volunteers, attendees …
A druid is seen at Stonehenge ahead of Summer Solstice (Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

LONDON (AP) – The coronavirus pandemic has prevented druids, pagans and party-goers from watching the sun rise at Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice this year.

The ancient stone circle in south-western England usually draws thousands of people to mark the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. But Britain has banned mass gatherings as part of measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Stonehenge

WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND – JUNE 21: Druid Arthur Pendragon and a group of people participate in the morning sunrise ritual in the rain at Stonehenge on June 21, 2020 in Amesbury, United Kingdom. English Heritage, which manages the site, said ‘Our priority is always to ensure the safety and well-being of staff, volunteers, attendees and residents. The decision to remain closed for Summer Solstice 2020 was made due to the on-going ban on mass gatherings and the need to maintain social distancing – still the mainstay of measures to combat Coronavirus. Before making this decision we consulted widely with partners, including Wiltshire Council, the police, ambulance services and Avebury Parish Council.’ (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

English Heritage, the body that oversees Stonehenge, livestreamed the sunrise instead. It said more than 3.6 million people watched as dawn broke at 4:52 a.m. Sunday (0352GMT, 11:52 p.m. EDT Saturday).

Stonehenge

WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND – JUNE 21: Druid Arthur Pendragon and a group of people participate in the morning sunrise ritual in the rain at Stonehenge on June 21, 2020 in Amesbury, United Kingdom. English Heritage, which manages the site, said ‘Our priority is always to ensure the safety and well-being of staff, volunteers, attendees and residents. The decision to remain closed for Summer Solstice 2020 was made due to the on-going ban on mass gatherings and the need to maintain social distancing – still the mainstay of measures to combat Coronavirus. Before making this decision we consulted widely with partners, including Wiltshire Council, the police, ambulance services and Avebury Parish Council.’ (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Stonehenge, a World Heritage site, is believed to be 4,500 years old. It is known for its alignment with the movements of the sun.

Stonehenge

WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND – JUNE 21: People participate in the morning sunrise ritual in the rain at Stonehenge on June 21, 2020 in Amesbury, United Kingdom. English Heritage, which manages the site, said ‘Our priority is always to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff, volunteers, attendees and residents. The decision to remain closed for Summer Solstice 2020 was made due to the on-going ban on mass gatherings and the need to maintain social distancing – still the mainstay of measures to combat Coronavirus. Before making this decision we consulted widely with partners, including Wiltshire Council, the police, ambulance services and Avebury Parish Council.’ (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

Some dedicated druids were determined to watch the sun rise in person, gathering in a field near Stonehenge despite the morning rain. Well-known druid King Arthur Pendragon said it had been “very wet,” but he was undaunted.

Stonehenge

WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND – JUNE 20: A ritual is performed at Stonehenge as the sun sets ahead of Summer Solstice on June 20, 2020 in Amesbury, United Kingdom. English Heritage, which manages the site, said ‘Our priority is always to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff, volunteers, attendees and residents. The decision to remain closed for Summer Solstice 2020 was made due to the on-going ban on mass gatherings and the need to maintain social distancing – still the mainstay of measures to combat Coronavirus. Before making this decision we consulted widely with partners, including Wiltshire Council, the police, ambulance services and Avebury Parish Council.’ (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

“You can’t cancel the sunrise,” he told the BBC. “It´s going to happen, and we were there to celebrate it.”

Stonehenge

WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND – JUNE 21: Security in face masks guard Stonehenge on June 21, 2020 in Amesbury, United Kingdom. English Heritage, which manages the site, said ‘Our priority is always to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff, volunteers, attendees and residents. The decision to remain closed for Summer Solstice 2020 was made due to the on-going ban on mass gatherings and the need to maintain social distancing – still the mainstay of measures to combat Coronavirus. Before making this decision we consulted widely with partners, including Wiltshire Council, the police, ambulance services and Avebury Parish Council.’ (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)


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