A mixture of time keeping technologies through the ages established when the sunrise was due at Avebury this morning at the start of the longest day of the year.

A crowd of about 1,000 people, compared to an estimated 40,000 at Stonehenge -- gathered in the Avebury stone circles for the Summer Solstice celebrations.

The sun was due to pop up over the horizon just after 5am and the revellers who had spent the night in the stone circle gathered behind the druid Keeper of the Stones Terry Dobney for him to ceremoniously greet the sunrise.

The sky was veiled with cloud obscuring any sight of the midsummer's day sunrise but as the time for it approached Mr Dobney relied on modern technology, his wrist watch, to signal the moment when he raised his arms and gave a druidical invocation to the hidden sunrise.

"All hail the dawn this summer solstice day," said the druid. "This the temple of ancient Britain known as Avebury.

"Say to the sun 'Hail and welcome'."

Moments previously dawn had been greeted by the village church clock striking 5am and the strident welcome to the day by a couple of local cockerels.

There had been a small but highly visible police presence through the night but the event passed off peacefully albeit noisily with non-stop drumming from nightfall to sunrise.

For some the efforts of staying awake to greet the summer solstice sun was just too much and they slept on peacefully in their sleeping bags as Mr Dobney performed his ritual.

Police said they made only two arrests, one for criminal damage after one of the revellers smashed up another's guitar, and one for possession of a suspected class A drug.

During the day yesterday members of the public told police there was a body in St James' Church yard about 200 metres from the part of the circle where the solstice revels took place.

Police found the body of a man who was believed to be in his 40's. Det Sgt Simon Pope said: "It is not believed the male lives locally and inquiries are ongoing to try to establish his identity and inform next of kin.

"The death is not being treated as suspicious and is not connected to the solstice activities in the area."

Several cars illegally parked on the roads around the village, despite hundreds of police no waiting cones, were towed away.