Police close off access to Avebury to prevent summer solstice gathering

Wiltshire Police has posted on social media that it has closed off access to part of the Ridgeway following the arrival of a large number of vehicles.

Avebury archaeological dig
Avebury archaeological dig

Police have closed off an area near to Avebury stone circle in a bid to stop people congregating to mark the summer solstice.

English Heritage has taken the decision to close Stonehenge in Amesbury, Wiltshire, for the annual celebration of the longest day of the year prompting fears that people will gather at Avebury.

Summer Solstice 2019
People gather around stones at the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire, where they celebrated the dawn of the longest day in the UK in 2019 (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Wiltshire Police has posted on social media that it has closed off access to part of the Ridgeway following the arrival of a large number of vehicles.

It posted: “We have taken the difficult decision to prevent further access to part of the Ridgeway, near Avebury, to maintain public safety and prevent potential damage to nearby farmland.

This is in response to large numbers of people and vehicles in the area.”

Visit Avebury posted: Avebury update. “@wiltshirepolice have taken the difficult decision to prevent further access to part of the Ridgeway, near Avebury, to maintain public safety and prevent potential damage to nearby farmland. This is in response to large numbers of people and vehicles in the area.”

The annual gathering at Stonehenge was cancelled for the second year running after the Government delayed the next stage of lockdown easing.

But the sunset and sunrise at the prehistoric monument will be live-streamed by English Heritage, which last year was viewed by 3.6 million people.

Normally between 7,000 and 30,000 people would gather to watch the sunrise over the stones on the longest day of the year.

A statement on the English Heritage website reads: “With this week’s news that the Government is delaying the lifting of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June and following discussions with Wiltshire Council’s Public Health team and Wiltshire Police, English Heritage has taken the extremely difficult decision to cancel the planned Summer Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge this year.

“Sunset and sunrise will be live-streamed for free on English Heritage’s social media channels and will include exclusive interviews and music.

“English Heritage will also ensure that small, pre-booked groups from the pagan and druid community can gather on the days around the Summer Solstice to mark this important moment in their calendar.”

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