STONEHENGE, England — Police say more than 20,000 celebrants have gathered at the famed Stonehenge monument to mark the summer solstice.
The cloud cover Friday morning prevented bright sunshine at dawn of the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere but a joyous spirit prevailed.
Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied among cultures, but most recognize the event in some way with holidays, festivals, and rituals around that time with themes of religion or fertility.
Solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).
The solstice has typically drawn a wide and varied crowd to the mysterious set of standing stones whose purpose remains unclear.
The ancient stone circle on the Salisbury Plain about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of London, was built in three phases between 3000 B.C. and 1600 B.C.