Glastonbury Tor is one of the most spiritual places in England. The hill is a peaceful place, withstunning views of the counties of Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire and even Wales. It has been a pilgrimage site for millennia. Today, it still attracts thousands of tourists, pagans, Christians, New Age enthusiasts and fans of Arthurian legend.
In Neolithic times, the Somerset Levels were a shallow sea. The tor was an island, with a distinctive, conical shape. Inhabitants lived on platform villages, connected by wooden walkways. Seven terraces were built on the slopes of the hill. The reason is not clear —maybe for farming or defending the village. Some think that the terraces formed a sacred labyrinth at the heart of a spiritual centre.
Many people believe in the tor’s spiritual importance. Glastonbury Tor is said to lie upon a so-called ‘ley line’. Ley lines are supernatural power lines that connect ancient holy sites. The St. Michael line passes through the tor and other important sites, like Chalice Well and Wearyall Hill.
The name St. Michael also refers to the tower at the top of the hill. It was part of a 14th-century chapel dedicated to the Archangel Michael, protector of the faith. The chapel replaced the original wooden structure, which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1275. In the Middle Ages, it was common to build churches on pagan worship sites to help spread the faith.
Glastonbury is at the centre of many Christian legends. One says that Jesus travelled there as a child. He accompanied Joseph of Arimathea, who was a tin merchant. The visit is mentioned in a poem by William Blake, which has become the popular hymn Jerusalem. Another legend says that, at the crucifixion, Joseph caught the blood of Christ in the chalice used at the Last Supper. He then brought the chalice to England and buried it in a spring under Glastonbury Tor. The spring began to flow with red water. It would give eternal life to those who drank it. However, the colour of the water is actually due to minerals in the surrounding rock.
KING ARTHUR’S LEGEND
The legendary King Arthur searched for the chalice, known as the Holy Grail. Glastonbury Tor was considered to be the Isle of Avalon, where King Arthur and Queen Guinevere were buried. The monks of Glastonbury Abbey claimed to have found their grave in 1191. Although it was probably a hoax, the place is marked with a sign “Site of King Arthur’s Tomb.”