Some info about my special place…
Glastonbury Tor is known as one of the most spiritual sites in the country, an ancient sacred place, magical and bewitching, surrounded by healing energies, myths and legends. Join me on my journey of discovery.
The name Glastonbury Tor
The origin of the name “Glastonbury” is unclear, but when the settlement was first recorded in the late 7th and early 8th centuries it was called Glestingaburg. ‘Glestinga’ may derive from an Old English word or Celtic personal name, for a person or kindred group named ‘Glast’. ‘bury’ is Anglo-Saxon in origin and could refer to a ‘burh’, a fortified place or more likely, a monastic enclosure. ‘Tor’ is an English word referring to a high rock or a hill, deriving from the Old English ‘torr’. The Celtic name of the Tor was Ynys Wydryn, or sometimes Ynys Gutrin, meaning ‘Isle of Glass’.
“Somerset is Gwlad yr Haf in Welsh and Gwlas an Hav in Cornish, which mean ‘Country of the Summer’. “
Perhaps known as a summer country due to the Somerset Levels flooding annually.
The Somerset and Glastonbury landscape has changed dramatically over the centuries. Its been affected by the changing sea levels, as well as the man-made changes of the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and others trying to reclaim land from the sea.
Ancient civilizations at Glastonbury
There is evidence of ancient people visiting Glastonbury for over 10,000 years. (Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods) Flint tools and a green stone axehead were discovered buried at the top of the Tor.
After the ice age, the sea levels rise and the sea would have been closer to Glastonbury. Around 4500 BC the sea levels sink and the area of the Somerset levels would be a salt marsh, peat and fen bogland. Around 1200 BC the climate becomes wetter and the Somerset Levels increasingly flood.
A route that’s been discovered, a raised trackway through the marshland, known as the ‘Sweet Track’, was built around 3800BC and is believed to be the earliest constructed roadway.
An early Iron Age Glastonbury Lake Village was discovered in 1892 and many of the finds and information about it are on display at the Glastonbury Lake Village Museum at the Glastonbury Tribunal (a 15th Century stone townhouse / Merchants House with an early Tudor façade) in Glastonbury. The Glastonbury and Street tourist info centre is on the ground floor.
This village created on a man-made island in the marshes dates to around 250 BC and was occupied until around 50AD when the water levels begin to rise again.
Discovered among the excavations are 5 amber and 27 glass beads, bronze, wooden items and pottery.
Mystical and magic Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Tor would have been a mystical place rising out of the surrounding seawater marshes and lakes and this is where its links to the legendary mythical Avalon come from. In Celtic folklore Avalon was a high hill surround by water, its believed to be the isle of enchantment, a place between the living and the dead.
There are many other well-known myths and legends surrounding Glastonbury, including:
- King Arthur and his Queen Guinevere’s burial in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey.
- The first wattle and daub church being built on the site of Glastonbury Cathedral in the first century by Joseph of Arimathea. On a later visit, his staff on being thrust into the ground grew into the sacred Glastonbury thorn bush and he brought with him the holy grail – the chalice cup – with him to Glastonbury and buried it below the Tor, whereupon healing spring water began to flow at the Chalice Well.
- The terracing around Glastonbury Tor is a maze or labyrinth pattern that was used as a symbolic pilgrimage route up to the top of the Tor.
- It’s a place associated with the Goddess Birgit.
A spiritual place
For thousands of years, Glastonbury Tor has been a religious place of worship. Although much of the archaeological evidence would have been destroyed when the top of the Tor was levelled in the 10th or 11th Century to build a larger church, some items have been discovered on the Tor.
- the buried Neolithic flint tools found there are believed to be votive offerings
- two skeletons excavated in the 1960s displayed a burial ritual typical of the Romano-British period and might indicate there had been a temple on the Tor
- 6th Century pottery
- part of a 10th/11th Century ‘sun/solar cross’
There is some evidence to prove that around 450 AD Celtic hermits briefly lived on the Tor and in the 7th Century that Saxon monks or hermits built 2 small cells and possibly a wooden chapel there. Followed by the large stone church, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1275 and was rebuilt smaller in the 1320s, this lasted until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry the 8th in 1539 and the execution of the Abbot at the Tor. The church was quarried for its stone and now the landmark St Michael’s Tower is the only building from the original St Michaels church that is left on the top of the Tor. It continues to keep watch over the surrounding countryside.
Energies, ley-lines and portals
There is strong energy at Glastonbury Tor, it’s a sacred and ancient place that is in tune with the earth rhythms and its energy flow. I believe that many of us in our modern world have lost our natural connection to the earth and our knowledge we possessed in ancient times.
Glastonbury Tor certainly has a lot of special energy surrounding it and I’ve found out from my research that its placed at a major intersection of the earth’s ley lines, as well as being one of the Earth’s main energy gateways. The St Michael’s and St Mary’s ley lines run through Glastonbury Tor and it’s a portal for the Heart and Crown Chakras.
There are many websites with further info on the history of Glastonbury and its folklore, myths and legends. These are just a few that I’ve visited in my quest for knowledge:
- Wikipedia – www.wikipedia.org
- national trust – www.nationaltrust.org.uk
- myths and legends – www.glastonburytor.org.uk
- sacred places – www.sacredsites.com
I have enjoyed my journey of discovery, learning about Glastonbury Tor and look forward to further discoveries on my next visits, now that I’ve gained a deeper knowledge…
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x