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Glastonbury Tor: A Modified Landscape

Glastonbury Tor: A Modified Landscape AbstractThis paper discusses the significance of Glastonbury Tor in its Somerset landscape. The Tor is stepped in a series of terraces. Several suggestions have been made concerning the origins of these, from the differential erosion of geological strata to sacral pathways. The explanation most widely accepted is that they are lynchets of medieval date. Those on the upper part of the Tor are on very steep slopes, which would make cultivation difficult. If they are nevertheless lynchets, they imply an origin at a time of extreme land-hunger. A possible alternative explanation is that the terraces are at least in part of prehistoric origin, possibly of Neolithic date. It is proposed here that they represent some modification of the appearance of the Tor by stepping or sculpting its sides, thus enhancing the significance of what, even in its natural state, formed a major landscape feature of great importance in the mindsets of prehistoric people: a monument comparable to wholly humanly-made features such as Silbury Hill. The location of the Tor was notable also for the proximity of a major spring, now hidden from view. In later centuries, the Tor was successively the site of a post-Roman defensive stronghold or Christian eremitic monastery, an Anglo-Saxon monastery, and a medieval church, dedicated to St Michael. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Landscapes Taylor & Francis

Glastonbury Tor: A Modified Landscape

Landscapes , Volume 3 (1): 16 – Apr 1, 2002
16 pages

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References (18)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
© 2002 Maney
ISSN
2040-8153
eISSN
1466-2035
DOI
10.1179/lan.2002.3.1.4
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractThis paper discusses the significance of Glastonbury Tor in its Somerset landscape. The Tor is stepped in a series of terraces. Several suggestions have been made concerning the origins of these, from the differential erosion of geological strata to sacral pathways. The explanation most widely accepted is that they are lynchets of medieval date. Those on the upper part of the Tor are on very steep slopes, which would make cultivation difficult. If they are nevertheless lynchets, they imply an origin at a time of extreme land-hunger. A possible alternative explanation is that the terraces are at least in part of prehistoric origin, possibly of Neolithic date. It is proposed here that they represent some modification of the appearance of the Tor by stepping or sculpting its sides, thus enhancing the significance of what, even in its natural state, formed a major landscape feature of great importance in the mindsets of prehistoric people: a monument comparable to wholly humanly-made features such as Silbury Hill. The location of the Tor was notable also for the proximity of a major spring, now hidden from view. In later centuries, the Tor was successively the site of a post-Roman defensive stronghold or Christian eremitic monastery, an Anglo-Saxon monastery, and a medieval church, dedicated to St Michael.

Journal

LandscapesTaylor & Francis

Published: Apr 1, 2002

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