Thursday, 12 July 2007

Land of Arthur--Glastonbury Tor

This night-time photo is not the best quality, but it captures our late night walk up to view the incredible Glastonbury Tor. The Tor is the fabled Isle of Avalon as the area around Glastonbury was once subject to flooding or perhaps even part of the shallow sea the comes in near the Severn River on the nearby west coast of England. The night was a sapphire blue and then as the dark settled, Jupiter aligned with Mars (and peace --perhaps for a moment--guided our planet). We walked up a dark, tree-shrouded narrow road and then came out at a clearing for a beautiful night view of the Tor.
Remains of a fifth century fort have been found on the Tor and much work has been done by local Arthurian historian, the venerable Geoffrey Ashe, to prove the historical basis of a 5th century Briton war leader. A chapel once stood at the top of the hill but was destroyed by earthquake and rebuilt only to crumble before that other earthquake of English culture: Henry VIII, whose dissolution of the monasteries brought about the ruin of this chapel as well. It is said that the abbot of Glastonbury Abbey was hanged up on this hill along with two other monks for his refusal to turn over the monastery to Henry.

The hills of the Tor are terraced and while there are all manner of speculation on some mystical reason for this, the likely answer is that the early monks farmed the hillside. It is a powerful site rich in history--Malory's great tale seemed to shimmer in the evening.