Glastonbury Tor - History and Facts | History Hit

Glastonbury Tor

Antara Bate

09 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor is a prominent hill overlooking the Isle of Avalon, Glastonbury and Somerset that offers magnificent views of the Somerset Levels, Dorset, Wiltshire and Wales.

Glastonbury Tor history

The conical shape of Glastonbury Tor is natural as thousands of years ago it was an island. Before modern drainage, the Tor in winter would have towered above the flooded Somerset Levels.

The terracing on the hillside has been dated to Neolithic times, around the same time as when Stonehenge was constructed. It has been suggested that the terraces form a kind of maze that guided pilgrims up the sacred hill.

Glastonbury Tor also has a grisly past. Abbot Richard Whiting was executed here in 1549 on the orders of Thomas Cromwell, the first Earl of Essex.

The Tor has long been shrouded in legends and myths. One such story followed that beneath the hill there is a hidden cave through which you can pass into the fairy realm of Annwn. This realm was said to be home to the lord of the Celtic underworld Gwyn ab Nudd with the Cauldron of Rebirth.

Another legend links this site to the Holy Grail, said to have been brought here by Jesus’s uncle, Joseph of Arimathea. The Cauldron and the Grail were both the object of quests for King Arthur and his knights. Glastonbury has a long tradition of being ‘The Isle of Avalon’ where King Arthur went after his last battle. The monks of Glastonbury Abbey claimed to have actually found his grave in 1191.

Glastonbury Tor today

Glastonbury Tor is known as being one of the most spiritual sites in the country. Its pagan beliefs are still very much celebrated. It’s a beautiful place to walk, unwind and relax.

Admission is free and donations very welcome. There are information points at Glastonbury Tor, as well as nearby hills Burrow Mump and Collard Hill.

Getting to Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor is just to the east of the town of Glastonbury. A 10-minute walk from the High Street and Abbey (well signposted) will take you past Chalice Well to the foot of the Tor.

To travel by public transport, the nearest train station is Castle Cary and bus route 377 from Wells to Yeovil passes within half a mile.

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