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Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor

One of the most infamous landmarks of Glastonbury is the Tor. It is extremely popular from the Arthurian legends. The Tor is a tall hill that ascends over 158 meters from Glastonbury and hosts panoramic views of the English countryside, viewing the three counties of Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire. During the legendary Isles of Avalon, this would have been the highest point on the isles. Geologically the Tor rises from Lower lias clays and limestones from the Middle and Upper Lias to a deposit of hard midford sand at the cap 521 feet and called the “Tor Burr”. The Tor has a conical shape made up of horizontal bands of limestone, clays, and capped with sandstone. As erosional forces dug away with limestone and clays, the sandstone lasts resisting erosion creating steep slopes. Historically, this Tor would have towered as an island above the flooded Somerset Levels, but as the levels were drained over the ages for agriculture and other uses, it is now a hill blended ito the landscape. The terraces on the slopes date to Medieval times where the hillside was one of the few dry locations where locals could farm and graze animals. The Tor is believed to have been a sacred site of pilgrimage for over 10,000 years and still used today. It is believed to be a gateway to the Otherworld. Lithics and other artifacts show presence of humans here for thousands of years.

It was said that Joseph of Arimathea in 63 C.E. founded a settlement here. Archaeologically the earliest found was a 6th century settlement, the earliest found in Glastonbury and many believe was the first Christian community in the area founded by Joseph. Evidence from the 6th century was found during excavations of 1964-1966 that exposed occupation during this time, and a second phase of occupation from 900-1100 C.E. by the finding of a head of a cross that were probably monks cells cut into the rock on the summit, a tradition of a monastic site on the Tor was confirmed by the 1243 charter granting permission for a fair at the Monastery of St. Michael at this location.

During the 8th century, the Great Abbey was built on the site of the present abbey ruins in the 8th century and then rebuilt becoming the wealthiest abbey in Britain, but destroyed in 1539 by the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

In the 13th century it is said the first Church on the Tor to be built was St. Michael’s Church in the charter of 1243 C.E.

These ruins are what you see today the most notable part of which is St. Michael’s Tower. These ruins are from the 2nd church replacing the original that was destroyed in the 1275 C.E. earthquake. This second church lasted until 1539 until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The earliest legend after Joseph of Arimeathea is the mid-thirteenth century story of St. Patrick coming from Ireland and becoming the leader of the hermits here. He was said to have discovered an ancient Oratory in ruins atop the Tor after climbing through dense woods.

In the historic era, this is the location where Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of Glastonbury, and some of his monks were hung.

    “Glastonbury Tor, one of the most famous and sacred landmarks in the West Country. From the summit at 158 metres, you can get amazing views over three counties – Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire. What is the tor? “Tor” is a West Country word of Celtic origin meaning hill. The conical shape of Glastonbury Tor is natural – due to its rocks. It is made up of horizontal bands of clays and limestone with a cap of hard sandstone. The sandstone resists erosion, but the clays and limestone have worn away, resulting in the steep slopes. A historic landscape: Before modern drainage, the tor in winter would have towered as an island above the flooded Somerset Levels. The terraces on the slopes date back to medieval times when the hillside was one of the few dry places where people could grow crops and graze animals. A place of pilgrimage: The tor has been a place of pilgrimage for over 10,000 years. Many thousands of people still visit each year, some for its links with religion, legends and beliefs, and others because it is such a renowned landmark. History of the Tower: on the summit is St. Michael’s Tower, part of a 14th century church. It was built to replace a previous church which had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1275. The second church lasted until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. At this time, the tor was the scene of the hanging of Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of Glastonbury. The Tor was the site of a 6th century settlement, the earliest yet found in Glastonbury. Some believe this was the first Christian community in the area, said to have been founded by Joseph of Arimathea in AD 63. 8th Century: The great Abbey: A stone church was built on the site of the present abbey ruins in the 8th century. It was rebuilt and became one of the wealthiest abbeys in Britain, but was destroyed in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. 13th century: A church on the tor – The first written record on St. Michael’s Church on the tor is in a charter of 1243. The building was destroyed in an earthquake in 1275. 14th century- St. Michael’s Tower – in the 14th century, a new church was built on the tor, which survived until the Dissolution. St. Michael’s tower is all that remains. Glastonbury Tor rises from the Lower lias clays and limestones through the Middle and Upper Lias to a deposit of hard midford sand on the cap, 521 ft. high known locally as Tor Burr. This is more resistant to erosion than the lower levels making the slopes steep and unstable. These steep sculptured slopes, rising dramatically from the isle of Avalon in the flat somerset levels, have encouraged much speculation about the origin of the Tor in legend. The earliest reference is a mid-thirteenth century story of St. Patrick’s return from Ireland in which he became a leader of hermits at glastonbury and discovered an ancient ruined oratory on the summit after climbing through a dense wood, scattered fines of prehistoric, roman, and later objects suggest the Tor was always used by man, but evidence for actual occupation from the 6th AD was uncovered in the excavations of 1964-6, a second phase of occupation between 900-1100 was distinguished by the head of a cross and what were probably Christian monk’s cells cut into the rock on the summit, the tradition of a monastic site on the Tor is confirmed by a charter of 1243 granting permission for a fair at the monastery of St. Michael there. The present tower though later modified, is essentially 15th century and is associated with the second of two major churches which stood on the summit. The second one was probably built after the destructive earthquake of 1275. The monastic church of St. Michael closely associated with the Great Abbey in the town below fell into ruin after the Dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 when Richard WHiting the last abbot of Glastonbury was hanged on the Tor.” ~ information signs on the Tor, Glastonbury, England.

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White Spring

White Spring
~ Wellhouse Lane, Glastonbury, England BA6 8BL, UK +44 7340 288392 * https://www.whitespring.org.uk/ ~

Official Article: http://www.technogypsie.com/naiads/?p=4373

While backpacking Europe during the Summer of 2011 this was one of my favorite sacred spaces to visit, even more so than the infamous Chalice Well. The White Spring is a free-to-visit spring welling up in a Victorian pump house that has been converted to a temple and pilgrimage site. It offers calcium-rich spring water to all for free unlike the Chalice Well that charges high admission to enter their sacred garden. It was the concept and dedication to the well that strengthened the birthing of my decision to be a Water Protector and Springs Guardian for the remainder of my life. This space was monumental for this change from a Protector of the Ancestors (Archaeologist) to Water Guardian as my life’s purpose.

Within a few feet from one another, the two Isle of Avalon mysteries wells forth from the Earth bestowing blessings, magic, and healing to its visitors and pilgrims. Each offer different healing properties, the Chalice Well being the Red spring rich with iron, the other white with calcite, both from the magical caverns beneath Glastonbury Tor, with rumors of Merlin’s magic. There is actually a third Blue Spring that has since vanished.

A temple has been built here at the White Spring offering the gift of pure water that is cavernous, mysterious, dark, Gothic, and magical as contrary to the Chalice Well in a well lit open-aired garden. The interior has three domed vaults standing at 16 feet height with beautiful bowed floors some say mimic the illusion of a hull of a boat moored at the portal to the Otherworld.

The pools within were designed and constructed based on sacred geometry following the Michael ley line that flows through the space with shrines added honoring ancient energies and the Spirits of Avalon.

A company of volunteers watch over the Spring and temple who designed it, built it, and care for it on a daily basis. The site sees pilgrimages and visitors daily. Group ceremonies and meditations are also conducted daily during opening hours, including celebrations of the turning of the seasons, the full moon, and the new moon. Private ceremonies can be arranged. There is no charge or expectation of donations and all caretakers do not get paid.

The sanctuary is candle-lit and dark, the sound of the water flowing can meditatively be heard and is a guide for ceremony and contemplation. Talking or conversations is strictly discouraged as silence other than the Spring is desired, though songs are welcome and check with the well keeper if wanting to play musical instruments. No Cameras, mobile phones, or electronic equipment is permitted in the sanctuary.

Legend has it that Glastonbury is England’s most sacred site and is where the foundations of the earliest church in Britain was formed and may be the site of the earliest church in the world second to Jerusalem and was dedicated to Mary. (There is no archaeological evidence to support this legend) The Glastonbury Tor or the Holy Hill of Albion is also believed to be England’s most sacred mountain and a place of Ancient Goddess worship. The Tor and its caverns beneath host numerous aquifers and springs that well forth from its base. Many of the springs have dried up except the Red Spring (Chalice Well) and the White Spring. There is evidence of a monastic site at the summit of the Tor and archaeological excavations revealed it is likely that early Celtic Christian hermits once lived on the sacred site of the White Spring. In 1872 a well house was constructed over the spring creating a reservoir that was used by townsfolk who were suffering from cholera and therfore destroyed the beautiful combe that once was there. A historic document by George Wright in 1896 stated ““And what was Glastonbury like then? One thing that clings to me was the beautiful Well House Lane of those days, before it had been spoilt by the erection of the reservoir. There was a small copse of bushes on the right hand running up the hill, and through it could be, not seen, but heard, the rush of running water, which made itself visible as it poured into the lane. But the lane itself was beautiful, for the whole bank was a series of fairy dropping wells – little caverns clothed with moss and vedure, and each small twig and leaf was a medium for the water to flow, drop, drop, drop into a small basin below. This water contained lime, and pieces of wood or leaves subject to this dropping became encrusted with a covering of lime. For a long time I attended those pretty caverns with affectionate care, and Well House Lane was an object of interest to all our visitors”

The reservoir fell into dis-use as the high calciferous waters often blocked the pipes and by the 19th century water was piped into Glastonbury from out of town, the well house falling into dis-use and forgotten. In the 1980’s it was re-opened and reconstructed being used for drinking water for the town. The walls, floors, water pipes, and chemical paint added in the 80’s was removed. The high ceilings, bowed floors, and original stone walls were uncovered unveiling the cathedral-like structure you see today. By 2004 a new owner took over the building and erected the sacred space you can visit now. The temple was consecrated in 2005. In October 2009 various pools were built inside based on sacred geometry. Its design and layout is always changing. The seasonal altar changes at each turn of the wheel. The bower that forms the Brigid shrine is rebuilt with fresh hazel for Imbolc and a February 1st celebration held in conjunction with Chalice Well and Bride’s Mound.

The White Spring is dedicated to the Goddess Brigid – the Celtic Fire Goddess and Guardian of the Sacred Springs within, and a perpetually burning Brigid Flame flickers her magic. A shrine in honor of the Lady of Avalon is within as well as a shrine in honor of the King of the World of Faerie at the portal to the Otherworld. Legend has it that the nun named Brigid who was said to be a child in 525 C.E. filled with the spirit of the Goddess Brigid who was born in Ireland from a Druidic father named Dubtach and a Christian slave mother named Brocessa. She was raised in both traditions and chose to enter a monastery – making her an Abbess as well as a nun. Legend states she lived and learned at the Beckery in Glastonbury before founding her abbey Cill Dara in Kildare Ireland.

The Lady of Avalon is seen at the White Spring as the Lady of ancient feminine primary power as Mother, Earth Mother, Mother of God, and Mother of us all. She is forever conceiving and birthing yet remains unchanged as herself self-fulfilled as the Virgin Mother. She is a dark lady like the earth – dark, womb-like, safe, hidden, mysterious, vast, abstract, and protective. She is also called the Black Madonna.

The King of the Faeries represents nature as wild, beautiful, majestic, diverse, interdependent, and powerful. He represents the Fae, the Otherworld, and is King of the World of Faerie as well as all the nature spirits of this world. He represents the unity of both worlds.

It is said that the White Spring is a portal to the Celtic Otherworld. It is said that Gwyn Ap Nudd was said to ride through here.

More Information: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-white-spring-glastonbury-england

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