Many people are drawn to the town of Glastonbury and its Arthurian Legend of the Holy Grail. The Tor looms over the town, which stretches to the foot of the Tor near the chalice Well.
Already in prehistoric times the Tor was remarkable, a high point rising in an otherwise flat and marshy landscape for miles around. Prehistoric man seems to have traced out a maze, which can still be seen in the evening light in the form of labyrinthine terraces around the Tor. These form a spiral maze to reach the summit, though much is lost and they are not continuous now. There are about seven layers of terraces from the base of the tor to the summit. There is considerable speculation on the exact nature of the terraces; however, it is easy enough to see them in the early light or the evening sun. Philip Rahtz, the archaeologist who excavated the Tor in the early 1960 did not excavate the terraces.
On a day with good visibility there is a superb view from the Tor all the way to the mountains of Wales; conversely on a misty day visitors can get a sense of what the Isle of Avalon must have been like when cut off and surrounded by water.
St Michael’s Chapel and the Last Abbot of Glastonbury
In the 400s an early monk’s retreat was built on the tor. A chapel was built on the site in the early 12th century, but it was destroyed in an earthquake in 1275. The chapel was rebuilt over the next century, and the remains of the tower form the open-roofed structure that visitors can see today. In 1539 on the dissolution of the monasteries the Tor was the site where the last abbot of Glastonbury Abbey was hung, drawn and quartered on the 15th November 1539 for resisting the seizure of the Abbey..
Climbing the Tor
In summer months the easiest way is to get the Tor bus, which starts from the car park at Glastonbury Abbey. There is very little parking near the Tor itself, so visitors who want to make the entire journey on foot would be well advised to visit the Chalice Well, and start the ascent of the Tor from the signposted path off Well House Lane running up past the Chalice Well. The path can get muddy at the foot of the hill, though once onto the National Trust land the path is better maintained. The passage up to the Tor is quite steep, and there are a few benches set by the side of it to allow pilgrims to catch their breath.
Visitors should note there are no toilet facilities at the Tor. If taking the Tor bus from Glastonbury town centre (near the Abbey), facilities are available at the car park. Toilets are also available for paying visitors to the Chalice Well if starting from there.
Glastonbury Tor offers a Panoramic Vista for Miles
The ascent of the Tor is rewarded with a breathtaking view over the Somerset Levels – it is the highest point for miles around. The OS trig point (surveying benchmark) now sports a plaque showing visitors features of the panoramic view.
Dion Fortune and Chalice Orchard at the Foot of the Tor
The mystical author Dion Fortune who was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn established her Order in 1926 at the Chalice Orchard near the Tor. This eventually became the Society of the Inner Light, a mystery school which is still in existence, based in London.