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Thousands turn out for Summer Solstice celebrations

Thousands of Summer Solstice revellers gathered at Stonehenge yesterday to watch dawn break on the longest day of the year.

The solstice annually attracts an eclectic mix – Druids, hippies, sun worshippers and those who are curious to experience the ancient festival.

Nearly 20,000 people attended the event, with 15 arrests for minor public disorder, a Wiltshire Police spokesman said.

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As the sun rose at 4.52am, a cheer went up from those gathered overnight at the stone circle on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

The crowds were treated to clear views of the sunrise – in contrast to previous years, when the spectacle has been obscured by mist and cloud.

Last year, a record 36,500 revellers attended, causing traffic chaos and road closures.

It was announced last week that £10 million of funding for a proposed visitor centre at the prehistoric site had been axed, putting the plans on hold indefinitely.

In Glasgow, solstice observers headed to the city’s Sighthill Stone Circle to mark the moment.

As The Herald reported earlier this month, efforts are being made to rejuvenate the landmark, which was created by amateur astronomer and science writer Duncan Lunan 30 years ago.

Lunan is hoping to revive interest in the stone circle, which was built by the Glasgow Parks Astronomy Department using funds from the former Jobs Creation Scheme.

Built on a hilltop with dramatic views across the city, the stones incorporate the line of the midsummer sunset across the city, which is historically mapped by Dobie’s Loan from the neolithic site, where Glasgow Cathedral now sits, to Summerhill.

Meanwhile, scores of skiers spent the longest day on the ski slopes in the Cairngorms, several of them in shorts.

It was the first time in living memory that they were able to enjoy the benefit of a mechanised uplift on the slopes as late as midsummer.

Operators CairnGorm Mountain ran two rope tows in the small area of the Ptarmigan, in which people could ski down about 525ft of snow.

A company spokesman said: “All our skiers seem appreciative of the fact that we have run the two tows.

“All were clearly looking forward to being able to say that they skied at midsummer on Cairn Gorm in the memorable season of 2009/2010.

“There were about 50 skiers, including one who travelled from the Isle of Mull so that he could say that he skied at the summer solstice this year.”

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