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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this June 21, 2019, file photo, the sun rises as thousands of revelers gather at the ancient stone circle Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England. The coronavirus pandemic has scuttled summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge, a highlight of the year for thousands of British pagans, druids and assorted revelers. English Heritage, which looks after the ancient stone circle, says restrictions on public events to slow the spread of the virus make it impossible to hold the event. It said it had decided to cancel the gathering “after much deliberation and in consultation with our partners in the police and the emergency services, the druid and pagan community and others.” (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi, File)

LONDON -- The coronavirus pandemic has prevented druids, pagans and party-goers from watching the sun rise at Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice this year.

The ancient stone circle in southwestern England usually draws thousands of people to mark the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. But Britain has banned mass gatherings as part of measures to contain the spread of covid-19.

English Heritage, the body that oversees Stonehenge, livestreamed the sunrise instead. It said more than 3.6 million people watched as dawn broke at 4:52 a.m. Sunday -- about 11:52 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday.

Stonehenge, a World Heritage site, is believed to be 4,500 years old. It is known for its alignment with the movements of the sun.

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Some dedicated druids were determined to watch the sun rise in person, gathering in a field near Stonehenge despite the morning rain. Well-known druid King Arthur Pendragon said it had been "very wet," but he was undaunted.

"You can't cancel the sunrise," he told the BBC. "It's going to happen, and we were there to celebrate it."

Security staff stand near the ancient Stonehenge site on Salisbury Plain, where the traditional sunrise equinox celebrations inside the stones has been cancelled early Friday March 20, 2020.  The Summer Solstice equinox festival normally held twice yearly is canceled after English Heritage closed the site following government advice on coronavirus. For some people the new COVID-19 coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, but for some it can cause severe illness. (Adam Davy / PA via AP)
Security staff stand near the ancient Stonehenge site on Salisbury Plain, where the traditional sunrise equinox celebrations inside the stones has been cancelled early Friday March 20, 2020. The Summer Solstice equinox festival normally held twice yearly is canceled after English Heritage closed the site following government advice on coronavirus. For some people the new COVID-19 coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, but for some it can cause severe illness. (Adam Davy / PA via AP)
An Archdruid performs a ritual near to the cordoned off Stonehenge as a small group of people gathered to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England, Sunday, June 21, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has prevented druids, pagans and partygoers from watching the sun rise at Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice. The ancient stone circle usually draws thousands of people to mark the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. But Britain has banned mass gatherings as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. English Heritage, the body that oversees Stonehenge, livestreamed the sunrise instead.  (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
An Archdruid performs a ritual near to the cordoned off Stonehenge as a small group of people gathered to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England, Sunday, June 21, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has prevented druids, pagans and partygoers from watching the sun rise at Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice. The ancient stone circle usually draws thousands of people to mark the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. But Britain has banned mass gatherings as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. English Heritage, the body that oversees Stonehenge, livestreamed the sunrise instead. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
An Archdruid performs a ritual near to the cordoned off Stonehenge as a small group of people gathered to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England, Sunday, June 21, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has prevented druids, pagans and partygoers from watching the sun rise at Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice. The ancient stone circle usually draws thousands of people to mark the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. But Britain has banned mass gatherings as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. English Heritage, the body that oversees Stonehenge, livestreamed the sunrise instead.  (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
An Archdruid performs a ritual near to the cordoned off Stonehenge as a small group of people gathered to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England, Sunday, June 21, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic has prevented druids, pagans and partygoers from watching the sun rise at Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice. The ancient stone circle usually draws thousands of people to mark the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. But Britain has banned mass gatherings as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. English Heritage, the body that oversees Stonehenge, livestreamed the sunrise instead. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
Arthur Uther Pendragon, left, and visitors turn to face the direction of the rising sun next to the closed Stonehenge as people gather to celebrate the dawn of the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice, near Salisbury, England, Sunday June 21, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
Arthur Uther Pendragon, left, and visitors turn to face the direction of the rising sun next to the closed Stonehenge as people gather to celebrate the dawn of the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice, near Salisbury, England, Sunday June 21, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
A man stands beside a barbed wire fence next to the closed Stonehenge as people gather to celebrate the dawn of the longest day, the Summer Solstice, near Salisbury, England, Sunday June 21, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
A man stands beside a barbed wire fence next to the closed Stonehenge as people gather to celebrate the dawn of the longest day, the Summer Solstice, near Salisbury, England, Sunday June 21, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
People shield from the rain next to the closed Stonehenge as people gather to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England, Sunday June 21, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
People shield from the rain next to the closed Stonehenge as people gather to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England, Sunday June 21, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
People gather as some shield from the rain next to the closed Stonehenge, to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England, Sunday June 21, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
People gather as some shield from the rain next to the closed Stonehenge, to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England, Sunday June 21, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
People shield from the rain next to the closed Stonehenge as people gather to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England, Sunday June 21, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
People shield from the rain next to the closed Stonehenge as people gather to celebrate the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, near Salisbury, England, Sunday June 21, 2020. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
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