Summer solstice at Stonehenge

Around 13,000 people gathered at Stonehenge on Wednesday, June 21, to witness the summer solstice sunrise at Britain’s most famous prehistoric monument.

Druids and midsummer revellers witnessed the sun rise at 4:52am (0352 GMT) on the longest day of the year at the site, whose stones are aligned to the sun’s position when it rises on the solstice.

The mysterious circle of standing stones, on Salisbury Plain in southwest England, is one of the most famous ancient sites in Europe.

Some pagans hugged the carved bluestones while one group of revellers did yoga together and others laid their hands together on the stones and chanted. The summer solstice is the only time in the year when the precious stones can be touched.

Some visitors had garlands of flowers in their hair, played guitars or tambourines, while others simply laid down to soak up the atmosphere.

A UNESCO world heritage site, Stonehenge is one of the most impressive prehistoric megalithic monuments anywhere due to its size, sophisticated concentric plan and architectural precision.

Stonehenge was built in stages, from around 3,000 BC to 2,300 BC. (AFP)

Read more on the summer solstice in the Old Farmer’s Almanac and watch a live telescope event courtesy of Slooh.com

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People watch the sun rise

People watch the sun rise on the Stonehenge monument on the summer solstice near Amesbury, Britain, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Neil Hall/Reuters)

People touch the stones

People touch the stones of the Stonehenge monument at dawn on the summer solstice near Amesbury, Britain, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Neil Hall/Reuters)

People practice yoga

People practice yoga by the stones of the Stonehenge monument at dawn on the summer solstice near Amesbury, Britain, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Neil Hall/Reuters)

Revellers celebrate

Revellers celebrate summer solstice and the dawn of the longest day of the year at Stonehenge on June 21, 2017 in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Kiran Ridley/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

revellers celebrate

Spiritual revellers celebrate the summer solstice (mid-summer and longest day) at the ancient stones of Stonehenge, on 21st June 2017, in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images)

Revellers watch the sun rise

Revellers watch the sun rise on the stones of the Stonehenge monument on the summer solstice near Amesbury, Britain, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Neil Hall/Reuters)

People meditate as the sun rises

People meditate as the sun rises on the Stonehenge monument on the summer solstice near Amesbury, Britain, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Neil Hall/Reuters)

People in druid costume watch the sun rise

People in druid costume watch the sun rise on the Stonehenge monument on the summer solstice near Amesbury, Britain, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Neil Hall/Reuters)

People watch the sun rise

People watch the sun rise on the Stonehenge monument on the summer solstice near Amesbury, Britain, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Neil Hall/Reuters)

Revellers celebrate

Spiritual revellers celebrate the summer solstice (mid-summer and longest day) at the ancient stones of Stonehenge, on 21st June 2017, in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images)

Revellers drum in celebration

Spiritual revellers celebrate the summer solstice (mid-summer and longest day) at the ancient stones of Stonehenge, on 21st June 2017, in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images)

People are seen as the sun rises

People are seen as the sun rises on the Stonehenge monument on the summer solstice near Amesbury, Britain, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Neil Hall/Reuters)

Revellers celebrate

Spiritual revellers celebrate the summer solstice (mid-summer and longest day) at the ancient stones of Stonehenge, on 21st June 2017, in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images)

A reveller celebrates

Spiritual revellers celebrate the summer solstice (mid-summer and longest day) at the ancient stones of Stonehenge, on 21st June 2017, in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images)

Revellers celebrate

Revellers celebrate summer solstice and the dawn of the longest day of the year at Stonehenge on June 21, 2017 in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Kiran Ridley/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

A woman watches the sun rise

A woman watches the sun rise at the stones of the Stonehenge monument on the summer solstice near Amesbury, Britain, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Neil Hall/Reuters)

A woman stands atop an ancient stone at sunrise

A woman stands atop an ancient stone at sunrise as some thousands gather to celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge in Salisbury, England, early Wednesday June 21, 2017. (Photo: Steve Parsons/PA via AP)

Revellers celebrate

Spiritual revellers celebrate the summer solstice (mid-summer and longest day) at the ancient stones of Stonehenge, on 21st June 2017, in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images)

People practice yoga at sunrise

People watch the sun rise on the stones of the Stonehenge monument on the summer solstice near Amesbury, Britain, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Neil Hall/Reuters)

A reveller touches one of the ancient stones

Spiritual revellers celebrate the summer Solstice (mid-summer and longest day) at the ancient stones of Stonehenge, on 21st June 2017, in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images)

Revellers celebrate

Revellers celebrate summer solstice and the dawn of the longest day of the year at Stonehenge on June 21, 2017 in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Kiran Ridley/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Revellers watch the sun rise

Revellers celebrate summer solstice and the dawn of the longest day of the year at Stonehenge on June 21, 2017 in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Kiran Ridley/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

A reveller celebrates summer solstice

Revellers celebrate summer solstice and the dawn of the longest day of the year at Stonehenge on June 21, 2017 in Wiltshire, England. (Photo: Kiran Ridley/Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

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