On Air Now

On Air Next

Stonehenge summer solstice live feed pulled as crowds gather against safety advice

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp

A live feed of the summer solstice sunrise at Stonehenge was pulled after people disregarded coronavirus guidelines not to travel to the site.

English Heritage said safety reasons were behind the lack of an available live feed of the Neolithic Wiltshire monument come sunrise at 4.52am.

Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world

Crowds ignored coronavirus safety guidelines and gathered tightly at the monument
Image: Crowds ignored coronavirus safety guidelines and gathered tightly at the monument

Hundreds of people had crowded inside the stone circle in video footage captured from the scene, along with a banner reading “Standing for Stonehenge“.

Thousands of people were met with pre-recorded footage of the stones when they tuned in to English Heritage’s Facebook and YouTube pages for the solstice.

The stream went live again at around 5am, showing largely cloudy skies.

Host Ed Shires apologised for the outage, saying: “I must say we have been disappointed that a number of people have chosen to disregard our request to not travel to the stones this morning and that is the reason why we haven’t been able to bring you the pictures that we would have liked to have done.

More on Stonehenge

“It is disappointing to see that happen but unfortunately in those kind of situations we have to put the safety of our staff members first and that’s why we have had some interruption this morning.”

“We have been told by police that people have now been dispersed and the situation is under control,” he said.

People held up a banner saying 'Stand for Stonehenge' at the monument
Image: People held up a banner saying ‘Standing for Stonehenge’ at the monument

English Heritage did not elaborate on how the crowds that flocked to the site had prevented them from showing a live feed of the sunrise.

Stonehenge was set to welcome visitors in person until the government delayed the easing of lockdown to mid-July, with English Heritage calling on people to watch their streams instead.

Up to 30,000 people typically gather to watch the sun rise over the stones on the longest day of the year, but it was a virtual event for the second consecutive year due to the pandemic.

During the summer solstice when skies are clear, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone – the ancient entrance to the stone circle – and rays of sunlight are channelled into the centre of the monument.

It is thought that solstices have been celebrated at Stonehenge for thousands of years.

Some people jumped over the fence to enter the site to watch the sun rise
Image: Some people jumped over the fence to enter the site to watch the sun rise
Hundreds of people crowded at the site

Mr Shires added: “I would like to apologise on behalf of myself and the English Heritage team for the difficulties that we have had this morning.

“It hasn’t gone according to plan as you might have guessed by now. We’ve been doing our very best to bring you the kind of content we know that you wanted and we wanted to as well.”

In a separate incident, police closed off an area near Avebury stone circle over fears the restrictions at Stonehenge would attract people to gather there too.