[Saturday - 05/08/99] Rising like a beacon from the flat Somerset plain, the Tor seems to beckon the pilgrims, who journey in their thousands to this legendary spot. Some 150 meters (500 ft) above sea-level, there is a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside and you can even glimpse Cadbury Castle away to the south. People seem to come in search of many different things: the Grail, enlightenment, inspiration. Many claim to have found their goal, and remain in the peaceful market town of Glastonbury to the bewilderment of the local inhabitants. We certainly noticed the many interesting people who have chosen to stay indefinitely.
Beneath the Tor is said to lie a subterranean kingdom ruld over by the Lord of the Afterlife, Gwynn ap Nud. Though supposedly banished by Saint Collen, Gwynn is still believed to haunt the hills around Glastonbury. There is supposed to be a cavern which was once reached by a tunnel into the side of the hill. Nothing is now known of the tunnel, which was sealed in the 1900's. Those who found their way in were believed to go mad. Tradition holds that if you lie down on the hill and listen very closely, you can hear the sounds of Arthur and his men sleeping. Of course, we had to try this! Sadly, we heard nothing but the howling wind, which is staggeringly powerful and constant up there. (Truth to tell, I may have been a bit distracted by a pile of rabbit droppings which were ominously close to my head but which I hadn't noticed until I was already committed to the task.)
A more recent theory claims the existence of a man-made maze carved into the Tor itself. This would have been the sacred processional way, used by priests and priestesses of ancient religions to reach the stone circle which once crowned the Tor. Modern pilgrims still trace its path to the summit and speak of visionary experiences when they have done so.
On top of the Tor stands the tower of the church of St. Michael. It is all that remains of a later building which replaced a still earlier medieval church which was destroyed by an earthquake in the thirteenth century. High up on one side of the tower is a carving representing St. Bridget milking her cow. She is one of several famous, Celtic saints (including St. David and St. Patrick) who may have lived for a time at Glastonbury.
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