Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor
Native name
Welsh: Ynys Wydryn
Glastonbury Tor- View of an iconic landmark (geograph 5500644).jpg
Glastonbury Tor in 2017
LocationGlastonbury, Somerset, England
Coordinates51°08′40″N 2°41′55″W / 51°08′40″N 2°41′55″W / 51.14444; -2.69861
Governing bodyNational Trust
Official name: St Michael's Church, monastic remains, and other settlement remains on Glastonbury Tor
Designated24 April 1954[1]
Reference no.1019390
Listed Building – Grade I
Official name: St Michael's Church Tower
Designated21 June 1950[2]
Reference no.1345475
Glastonbury Tor is located in Somerset
Glastonbury Tor
Location of Glastonbury Tor in Somerset

Glastonbury Tor is a hill near Glastonbury in the English county of Somerset, topped by the roofless St Michael's Tower, a Grade I listed building.[2] The entire site is managed by the National Trust and has been designated a scheduled monument.[1][3] The Tor is mentioned in Celtic mythology, particularly in myths linked to King Arthur, and has several other enduring mythological and spiritual associations.

The conical hill of clay and Blue Lias rises from the Somerset Levels. It was formed when surrounding softer deposits were eroded, leaving the hard cap of sandstone exposed. The slopes of the hill are terraced, but the method by which they were formed remains unexplained.

Archaeological excavations during the 20th century sought to clarify the background of the monument and church, but some aspects of their history remain unexplained. Artefacts from human visitation have been found, dating from the Iron Age to Roman eras. Several buildings were constructed on the summit during the Saxon and early medieval periods; they have been interpreted as an early church and monks' hermitage. The head of a wheel cross dating from the 10th or 11th century has been recovered. The original wooden church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1275, and the stone Church of St Michael built on the site in the 14th century. Its tower remains, although it has been restored and partially rebuilt several times.


The origin of the name "Glastonbury" is unclear, but when the settlement was first recorded in the late 7th and early 8th centuries it was called Glestingaburg.[4][5] Of the latter name, Glestinga is obscure and may derive from an Old English word or Celtic personal name.[4][6] It may derive from a person or kinship group named Glast.[4] The second half of the name, -burg, is Anglo-Saxon in origin and could refer to either a fortified place such as a burh or, more likely, a monastic enclosure.

Tor is an English word referring to a high rock or a hill, deriving from the Old English torr.[note 1][7] The Celtic name of the Tor was Ynys Wydryn, or sometimes Ynys Gutrin, meaning "Isle of Glass". At this time the plain was flooded, the isle becoming a peninsula at low tide.[8][9]

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