"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on September 11, 2019 by Sioux under General
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As it was my birthday, and my 60th at that, I decided I was sleeping in! When I did drag myself out of bed, Paul cooked us a fine breakfast, and we got ready for the climb – to the top of Glastonbury Tor – a conical hill with an elevation of 158m, topped by the 14th-century, now roofless, St Michael’s Tower.


                                                              One of the most famous landmarks the county, it is

                                      also known as one of the most spiritual sites in England, has been mentioned in Celtic mythology, particularly myths linked to King Arthur, and has a number of other enduring mythological and spiritual associations, including the legend that Glastonbury Tor is The Isle of Avalon, burial site of King Arthur!


The first monastic Church of St. Michael that stood on the Tor was probably destroyed in the major earthquake of 1275. The church was rebuilt in the 14th century, and only the tower still stands. 

St Michael’s Church survived until 1539 when, except for the tower, it was demolished.


The Tor was the place of execution for the last Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, where, along with two of his monks, he was hanged, drawn and quartered. 

Looking up from inside the tower

The tower can be seen from miles away, and from the top, the vista is expansive and magnificent!

The Isle of Avalon was also considered to be the meeting place of the dead, and the point where they passed to another level of existence.


Walking up the hill is no mean feat, and we had to stop to catch our breath more than just once! On the way down we encountered an elderly gentleman having difficulty staying upright as he shuffled his way down. He landed up hanging on to my arm, while Paul walked ahead of us as a safety barrier, until the old guy was safely on level ground.

The steep sides of the hill are 7 deep and roughly symmetrical terraces, and, if man-made, may also date from the Neolithic era.

Excavators have uncovered Neolithic flint tools and Roman artefacts, indicating use since ancient times.

How and why these were formed remains a mystery but one explanation is that they may have been a result of natural differentiation between the layers of lias stone (layers of limestone and shale dating from the Jurassic period) and clay used by farmers during the Middle Ages as terraced hills to make ploughing for crops easier. Other explanations suggested construction of defensive ramparts.

This plaque was installed in 1983, and shows directions and mileage to distant places and landmarks.

My good deed for the day was done and we went off in search of some mystical gardens we had heard about.

The Chalice Well, also known as the Red or Blood Spring, is a natural spring well in a beautiful garden setting, near the foot of the Tor. Fed by a deep aquifer (underground layer of water bearing rock), scientific evidence suggests that the well has probably been in constant use for at least two thousand years, and water flows from the spring at a rate of 1,100,000 litres per day, never stopping, even during times of drought.


Image courtesy of Google images

Iron oxide deposits give the water a reddish hue, and it is rumoured that the water possess healing qualities. Christian mythology suggests that Chalice Well marks the site where the chalice that had caught the drops of Christ’s blood at the Crucifixion was placed, linking the Well to a wealth of speculation surrounding the existence of the Holy Grail. The red of the water is also said by some Christians to represent the rusty iron nails used at the Crucifixion. However, the well is popular with all faiths and in 2001 became a World Peace Garden.

According to local folklore, the waters from the well have three things in common with human blood, in that the waters are red; the water coagulates as does hemoglobin; and the water is warm. Scientifically, the iron content gives both the reddish color and the coagulation of rust and accumulation of ferric oxide. The subterranean water from the well is often warmer than the surface ground temperature and even in winter roses near the well bloom when other plants and flowers further away do not.


Image courtesy of Google images

Mother and child statue in a shrine at the gardens. 

The head of the well is at the top of the garden, and the first thing you see on entering at the bottom of the garden is this vesica pisces shaped pool that has Chalice Well water flowing in to it through a series of flow-forms.


Allowed to flow completely uninterrupted, the swirling water creates a figure-of-eight in each bowl before streaming into the next. In the third and eighth bowls the water circulation is timed and counted so that it circulates at 18 and 72 times per minute: the rates of a human’s breath and heartbeat!

Vesica pisces

The vesica pisces, a sacred geometrical symbol for at least the last two thousand years, is made up of 2 identical circles, with the circumference of one goes through the center of the other. The bit in the middle is the vesica.

Often encountered in these gardens, the vesica pisces is also featured on the lid of Chalice Well, which was designed in the early 1900’s and given to the Chalice Gardens as a thank-offering for Peace in 1919.

This ammonite shell forms the centre piece of a spiral, embedded into a flower lined pathway which winds its way through the peaceful gardens.


Image courtesy of Google images


The free flowing water from the Lions Head fountain is drinkable and is piped directly from the source of the well. Quite a sobering thought considering that it has been in the earth for some 23,000 years.

The gardens are incredibly peaceful, and the silence was almost enveloping. I could happily have spent a few more hours there! I seem to recall my mom always saying I arrived in time for morning tea, so to be in such a peaceful setting at around the same time I was entering the world 60 years ago, was to me, quite symbolic. The perfect way to spend the morning of my 60th year on earth. We left the gardens and went in search of the Glastonbury Abbey and the home of Celtic Christianity, as well as the original burial site of the legendary King Arthur!

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