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Visiting Glastonbury Tor

What To Expect At Glastonbury For Visitors

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor


Glastonbury Tor Overview

Tor is the Celtic name for a cone-shaped hill. So Glastonbury Tor is a hill in Glastonbury. The hill is one of the icons of Glastonbury and can be seen from afar. Most people visiting Glastonbury will find the time and effort to trudge up the hill.

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.

Its then a slog up a paved pathway up the south side of the Tor to the top.


There is a Glastonbury Tor Bus that regularly plies between the main car park in front of Glastonbury Abbey to Glastonbury Tor. The bus goes over to the north side of the Tor, pictured right which requires less of a climb up to the Tor but the footpath is not very well made.


The Tor is owned and cared for by the National Trust and there is totally free access.

Glastonbury Tor History

In ancient times, the Somerset levels were a shallow, marshy sea. Then, Glastonbury Tor was an island. Neolithic peoples in the region built platform villages linked by wooden causeways, arguably the first man-made roads.


At some point, no one knows exactly when, the Tor became a sacred site. Viewed close up, its slopes are subtly terraced, and some scholars speculate that it forms a remnant of a Neolithic labyrinth.

The Celts called it Ynys Witrin, or the Isle of Glass, and believed it was a gateway to the underworld. Later legend has it that the Tor is the Island of Avalon, burial site of King Arthur.


The tower on the Tor is all that remains of a fourteenth-century chapel dedicated to Saint Michael, a replacement for an earlier church destroyed by an earthquake in 1275.

The chapel is in itself evidence of the site's pre-Christian roots.

It was a common practice to build churches on pagan worship sites both to cement the ascendancy of the new faith and to give the people a Christian gathering place at a familiar spot.

Such churches were often dedicated to Michael in his role as spiritual guardian.


Glastonbury Tor

In the recent 1960's excavations suggested that a sixth-century fortress or at least a stronghold stood on the site of the Tor, which for some supports another legend connected with the Tor, that it was the location of the stronghold belonging to 'Melwas', who is credited in one of the many Arthurian legends as the man who abducted 'Guinevere'.


There have over the centuries been offered many theories that the hill itself is/was hollow and that this in turn has led to the legends that it was the entrance to the underworld or the place of the 'Sleeping Lord'.

Dowsing methods have now traced many ley (power) lines in the earth that for centuries were known to folklore. These are natural geomagnetic lines in the earth.


One such ley line called 'The Michael line' is called that because most of the churches on it are dedicated to St.Michael, protector of the faith.

'The Michael line' flows down from the Tor and then passes through the other major Glastonbury sites - Chalice Well, the Abbey and Wearyall Hill - spooky eh?


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