THE first day of summer this weekend saw people rising early to watch the Wessex Morris Men dancing in the streets at sunrise on May Day.

Colourfully clad, with bells ringing and hankies swinging, the Wessex Morris Men were joined by the Dorset Ooser in Cerne Abbas to celebrate the first sight of the sun for summer.

As the sun rose over the hill at the Giant in Cerne Abbas, there were hundreds of people at the top of the hill dancing at dawn.

Paul Chesterman, squire of the Wessex Morris Men, from Sherborne said: "It was absolutely fantastic. We had probably the best weather we've ever had.

"We all met at 5.15am and at about 5.50am the sun came over the hill as we were dancing.

"You just have a feeling you are closer to things when you are on top of the hill celebrating. Cerne Abbas is our spiritual home."

After dancing at the top of the hill, the morris men and spectators jollily made their way down the hill in Cerne Abbas to the village for more dancing before going to The Giant Inn.

Mr Chesterman said: "The pub put on a lovely breakfast for everyone. Having a pint of real ale at 7.30 in the morning went down very nicely indeed!"

Morris dancer David Chiplen added: "We've been on the Giant for the last 25 years or so but this time we had the most people we've ever had.

"We had the Dorset Ooser with us, which is the only mask left in the country."

Historically, the Dorset Ooser was a monstrous wooden mask with bull's hair and horns used to scare people.

David said: "It comes from the Elizabethan times when there was 'skimity riding'.

"If people misbehaved in the village, traditionally they were tied on the back of a horse and paraded around the village with all the villagers watching.

"Then the mask and Dorset Ooser would come out!"

The morris men come from across Dorset to practice in Pulham, and meet every Monday evening to dance.

Mr Chesterman said new members are always welcome.