The National Trust

Glastonbury Tor Conservation Statement

February 1999



1.1. Description and Understanding of the Site
1.1.1. Topography and Landscape
1.1.2. Archaeology
1.1.3. The Natural Habitats Geology Nature Conservation
1.1.4. Spiritual and Religious Associations
1.1.5. Past Management
1.1.6. Comments on Aspects for improvement
1.1.7. Recreation
1.2. Research and Current Understanding of the Site
1.3. Assessment of the Significance of the Site
1.3.1. Significance of the Glastonbury Tor
1.3.2. Significance of the Tor to Glastonbury Town
1.3.3. Significance of Archaeology
1.3.4. Further Research and Recording Required to Enhance our Understanding of Significance


2.1. Vulnerability
2.1.1. Archaeology
2.1.2. Landscape and Nature Conservation
2.1.3. St Michaels Tower
2.1.4. Visitors
2.2. Conservation Policies to Deal with Vulnerability
2.2.1. Archaeology
2.2.2. Landscape
2.2.3. Nature Conservation
2.2.4. Recreation/Access/Information
2.2.5. Education
2.2.6. Public Relations
2.2.7. Maintenance
2.3. Implementation
2.3.1. Development of Management Plan
2.3.2. Consultation
2.3.3. Decision making
2.3.4. Adoption and Review


3.1. Proposals and Mitigation Table



This document is divided into two main sections. Part One explains the significance of the site and part two addresses the vulnerability and proposed conservation policies proposed to protect it.

For centuries Glastonbury Tor has been an important place to visit because of its continuing association with religions, beliefs and rites, and also because the Tor is such a distinctive landscape feature on the Somerset Levels.

Many visitors have made it clear they would not like to see a site that has taken many years to develop from a diversity of past use, become managed in an inappropriate manner that does not take this past use into account.

The only structure above ground from this past era is the St. Michaels Tower, a scheduled ancient monument, though past excavations revealed a wealth of archaeological features below the Tower and on the 'shoulder' of Tor Hill. This area is due to be scheduled in the near future. Within Tor field the open landscape is important as the backdrop for the Tower. A different grassland regime would capitalise on the potential for this area to become important for wildlife, and thus give the visitor the opportunity to experience native flora and fauna in the countryside further enriching their visit.

The Tower is a robust structure that has survived since the middle ages, but needs to be comprehensively surveyed to determine its long term needs and maintenance.The Tower in the recent past has suffered superficial vandalism which caused distress to the visitor and local people. This type of incident leads to requests to 'fence off' this area which would exclude everyone. The plan tries to identify ways to protect the tower so that people can continue to enjoy the property.

Proposals for access, interpretation and management of the physical environment will always have to take into account the diversity of interests and beliefs that have made Glastonbury into one of the spiritual centres of Britain, and beyond.

This document has been produced by Adrian Woodhall of the National Trust in collaboration with Martin Papworth, Regional Archaeologist, and Tracey Hartley, Regional Building Surveyor, and many other specialist interests within the organisation.



The property is on the highest point of this area of the Levels, situated close to the town of Glastonbury in Somerset. Apart from some industry and commerce in Glastonbury the area is predominantly rural with farming and tourism as the main economic activities.

The land lies within Glastonbury's conservation area and the remaining tower of the now former St. Michaels Church is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Access is on foot either through the entrance at the top of Wellhouse Lane, at the bottom of Wellhouse Lane or through Ashwell Lane.

1.1.1 Topography and Landscape

Glastonbury Tor is an outstanding feature of the Somerset Levels rising to a height of 158m. The St. Michaels tower adds a further 21m to this height. This distinctive hill capped by the tower dominates the views from all directions and can be seen from more than 20 miles away in the Mendip Hills. The Tor is situated on one of the small islands that provided opportunities for settlement when the rest of the Levels regularly flooded before the advent of land drainage.

Past use of the Tor suggests that pre enclosure the Tor fields would have been open with communal farming and grazing. Enclosure in the 18th century formed numerous small fields with well-developed hedgerows cut by small farm tracks and gateways. Most of these fields are still used for grazing sheep and cattle. However, some of the fields show past use as cider orchards by the presence of gnarled Somerset varieties of apple trees. Planted oak, beech, poplars and some Scots Pine dominate the lower slopes on the southern side. The rectilinear landscape of the Levels provides a distinctive contrast to the smaller field pattern and size formed from the enclosures that surround the Tor. An outlier of Trust ownership, the Lynchets to the east, still shows a field use associated with a mediaeval farming system.

1.1.2 Archaeology

Much of the information on the site is taken from the Scheduled Area Statement from English Heritage (1998) and the Archaeological Desk Top study commissioned by the National Trust of Glastonbury Tor and its Environs by Charles and Nancy Hollinrake (1997).

Between 1964-6 archaeological investigations by Philip Rhatz pub.1970, revealed traces of life from the 5-7th Century AD. The excavation revealed timber structures, hearths, pits and two north/south aligned graves. The interpretation was of a post-Roman stronghold. Later interpretations by the excavator suggest that the site might have been the site of an early Celtic Christian Monastery or part of the stronghold of a local ruler or chief.

The site may also have held a Saxon monastic retreat. Saxon structural remains of two timber buildings including two possible monastic cells were discovered. In the medieval period a complex of monastic buildings arose on the shoulder of the Tor to the west of the church of St. Michael.

The finding of a worn hollow bronze head and a wheel-head cross dating between 900 and 1100 AD suggest the site of a small monastery with possibly monks cells on platforms cut into the rock.

St. Michaels Tower
St. Michaels Tower was part of a church built in the 12th century. The tower is early perpendicular in style with an embattled parapet, stepped buttresses and niches with the remains of statuary. The shell is intact with louvres in the upper windows, but it is both roofless and floorless.

It is thought this church was built in the 14th century on the site of an earlier church which was destroyed in an earthquake in the 13th century. This church stood until the Dissolution of the monasteries instigated by Henry VIII in 1539. Now only the tower survives. Drawings from the 1800's show a tower in some state of decay with the north eastern corner reduced to a rubble layer. This part of the Tower was restored in the 19th century with distinctive brickwork. In 1948 further restoration work was undertaken on the Tower.

The lias floor was laid in 1984 to replace an earth floor that was constantly dug by treasure seekers.

Only a part of the Tor was excavated (P.Rhatz, 1970) but the remains of buildings are likely to extend over the relatively flat area of the summit and shoulder.

Bushy Combe (not owned by NT)
Bushy Combe has the site of a roman road running adjacent to the public footpath. This Roman road comes out near the base of the Tor and then progresses towards Wick.

The route through the Combe is probably the religious ritual pathway from near the Abbey to the Tor.

Origin of field names
A number of fields as mentioned above have distinct names that reflect their past use. Football Field before Trust acquisition was used by the Chalice Well School for recreational activities. The remains of the old pavilion still in use post WW2 can still be found.

Fairfield (C & N Hollinrake, 1997) arises from being the site of the Tor Fair which was originally held on the lower slopes of the Tor and was moved in Tudor times. The Charter for holding this fair was granted by Henry 1 in 1127 to the Abbot and Monks 'to hold a fair at the monastery of St. Michael on the Tor in the island of Glastonbury'. It was to last for six days, five before the feast of St. Michael and on the feast day itself. The piece of land in the place where it was held is still known as Fairfield andmany other memorials of it exist such as the place where tolls were taken, and in Basketfield Lane, a spring where horses were packed and watered-the Pack Springs.

1.1.3 The Natural Habitats Geology

The hill is formed of Jurassic strata, which are almost horizontally bedded. This rock explains the Tor's existence eroding more slowly than the surrounding clay. The lowest ground eg The Lynchets, is on Lower Lias clay with some limestone horizons; slightly higher ground is on the Middle Lias silts and clays, while the main part of the hill consists of Upper Lias clays capped by sands known as Tor Burrs. Nature Conservation

Botanical Interest
Due to the steepness of the scarp slope and the undulations of the Lynchet field system it appears that a herb rich meadow has developed within the regime of grazing.

On the south east scarp slope of the Tor acidic, unimproved grassland is present (grassland that has not been sprayed with pesticides, fertilised or ploughed for many years), although species diversity is low. Two unusual species of some interest, the local, southern large thyme Thymus pulegioides, and Common Milkwort (both Somerset Notable species) are present, although in southern England the former species is frequent in suitable habitats. Somerset Notable species are designated by the Somerset Environment Records Centre as those species with a restricted distribution in Somerset according to certain criteria, for example, how many km2 these species occupy.

The remainder of the knoll supports either a fairly species rich, 'middle' nutrient grassland of Cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata, Crested Dogstail Cynosurus cristatus and Meadow Oat Grass Helichotrichon pratense interspersed by various Vetches Vicia spp., St. Johns Worts Hypericum spp. and Restharrow Ononis repens.

The enclosed fields adjacent to Tor field under past farming have been ploughed and mainly sown with rye grass. This 'improved grassland' is grassland that has been sprayed with pesticides, fertilised and replanted with varieties of grass that has a high protein content designed to give more nutrients to animals and thus a better financial return.

High rabbit populations are overgrazing the steep ground leading to erosion scars especially on the south western slopes. In the summer a typical short turf drought landscape appears that can be seen from many miles. Badgers have also created setts on the lower slopes of the Tor Hill. Moles are present as would be expected in open grassland.

The property should be considered for designation as a County Wildlife Site due to its interesting botanical communities of unimproved grassland on Tor field and the Lynchets.

Woodland communities
There are very small pockets of woodland on the property and a few locations where scrub communities have developed. Pedunculate Oak Quercus robur and some Beech Fagus sylvatica appear to have been planted as specimen trees on the lower slopes of the property.

From the wide diversity of trees and shrubs living in them some of the hedgerows appear to be old. Field Maple Acer campestre, Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna and English Elm Ulmus glabra are the dominant trees. Unfortunately Dutch Elm disease allows only a scrub version of English Elm to attain a size of 10m before it succumbs to the fungus. Of particular interest is the presence of Ash Fraxinus excelsior standards in the hedges that have acquired a good cover of moss and lichens. In some locations new hedges have been planted.

Four old orchards are present, but the trees are derelict in three of them. Present in the main orchard is Wood Meadow Grass, a Somerset Notable species.

The mammalian interest is of the more common British mammals, such as Badger (Somerset Notable species) and Fox, with Roe Deer sometimes seen in some of the peripheral woodlands. Rabbits are the one of the most common animals found on the property and have presented real problems with burrows dug into the side of the Tor scarring the landscape and being seen for many miles. As at other properties myxomatosis periodically wipes out the rabbit population.

Noctule Bats (Somerset Notable species) have also been seen feeding over the site.

Ornithological interest
Common breeding and resident birds such as starlings and jays are present. Green woodpeckers breed nearby using the more mature trees for feeding and Little Owl use some of the trees for roosting. Geese and swans are regularly seen flying over the Levels close to the Tor. A spectacular gathering of swallows and other hirundines occurs each autumn before their migration to the southern hemisphere.

There are records for the more common species of butterfly including the marbled white, common blue, meadow brown, speckled wood, and small skipper.

Very little is known about other major insect groups.

1.1.4 Spiritual and Religious Associations
The Sacred Site

It is well documented that the Tor has been a centre for religious festivals for a long time. Many people also believe that the Tor/Chalice Well complex formed an important sacred site in the prehistoric period. There is still a spring on Chalice Hill Little of this activity has been recovered archaeologically, because of some erosion round the Tor, and possibly, due to the limited level of excavation carried out on Chalice Well.

The last skeletons found on the Tor in the mid 1960's display a burial ritual typical of the Romano-British period and may indicate the presence of a temple of that era. The bones were never subject to radiocarbon dating and the building of medieval churches appears to have obliterated almost all traces of earlier activity. Unfortunately we do not know the location of these skeletons.

Very little information is known of religious practices in past eras, even as late as the Saxon period and it is unwise to speculate on archaeological deposits that might be expected. Features and finds associated with the use of the Tor and Chalice Well as religious sites will still exist in the area and their preservation should be considered a high priority.

The medieval Christian church on the summit of the Tor may well have been the last in a long line of sacred structures. On the shoulder were buildings associated with the Saxon monastery and medieval church; a dwelling house for a priest and a bakehouse. The latter would only be necessary if numbers of worshippers regularly gathered on the summit as bakehouses are usually interpreted as signs of regular 'church ales'. These were parties held in the churchyard for the sale of cakes and ale to raise funds for the upkeep of the building and its works.

As well as documented past evidence as a sacred site Glastonbury is a magnet for many people due to the long history of folklore and mystic legend associated with King Arthur, Joseph of Arimathea, and St Dunstan.

Some people believe that there is a Maze (Ashe 1979) or labyrinth on the southern slopes of the Tor. A Maze is a route to aid meditation, usually set up by monks at monastic sites in medieval times, usually taking a continuous path which leads somewhere. There is some dispute whether the Maze is medieval, or prehistoric, or related to a Mother Goddess cult.

Mazes are difficult to interpret on the ground. For people visiting the Maze for the first time, a 'guide' may be needed to interpret the route on the ground. Some localised erosion of the terraces can be attributed to people trying to walk the Maze on the Tor and has led to conflict where wire fences are seen to obstruct the supposed ceremonial pathway. Part of the purpose of this plan is to avoid this type of unnecessary conflict in the future.

Many local people and visitors continue to research beliefs and legends associated with the Tor.

1.1.5 Past Management

Access routes
The recent past management has been concerned with the essential fabric of the Tor field and the St Michaels Tower. There are now concrete pathways along the major walk routes. Though not ideal solutions they do take considerable wear and tear and visitors do use them thus saving the ground from excessive erosion.

Field boundaries
A lot of the estate fabric such as agricultural fencing is in fairly good repair as it has recently been renewed by the Trust though many of the smaller field fences and hedges need some work.In the past hedgerows have been quite intensively managed, though many are diverse and interesting.

The landscape is a very significant consideration with grazing an important tool to maintain the area surrounding the Tor. However, there have been problems between farmers and visitor's dogs.

It is presumed that features such as the orchards were planted in the 1800s to provide the local farming community with cider as part payment for labourers wages.

Agriculturally, before the Enclosure Acts ????, the surrounding fields of the Tor would have been one large open field used for communal grazing, and then some form of arable agriculture. Tor field and the surrounding fields have recently been entered into Countryside Stewardship. This scheme gives grant aid to farmers and owners to manage land benignly and to undertake some capital works which are essential for good husbandry.

Some memorial trees have been planted in the Tor field.

Civic Trust
In 1996 the Civic Trust was commissioned to formulate a town strategy for Glastonbury. Within this report the importance of the Tor to townspeople from all walks of life was very apparent.

St Michaels Tower
St Michaels Tower is in a good state of repair when compared to its condition after a lightning strike in the 1860's. In the mid 1960s the apron surrounding the tower was renewed with concrete to withstand the considerable visitor numbers that were eroding the ground, almost to the foundations of the tower.

Railings were removed from the tower in the mid 1960's. The railings prevented access to people who could not climb over them but did not prevent litter, and some acts of vandalism to the tower. Since this time there has been free access to the tower, which has allowed many people to see the open Levels landscape beyond the Tor framed in the arch of the doorways. It is a memorable experience which should not be denied to the many benign visitors to the property.

Very little information is known about management of the site after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. The Abbey at Glastonbury was sacked in ???? and the Tor had been part of the Abbot of Glastonbury' estate. The St Michaels Church fell into disrepair and the only remaining feature is the tower that can be seen today.

The Advisory Committee
As with many other Trust properties, the Tor has a committee composed of local people to act as advisors to discuss issues affecting the management of the Tor to help the Trust find workable solutions to all the issues that are raised.

1.1.6 Comments on Aspects for improvement from the public consultation:

Paths. Steps to replace steepest paths needed, hand rails may help. Paths need to be maintained- if rebuilt, in safe and attractive style.
Erosion. Repair grass in winter. Concrete paths best viable solution to erosion. Widen footpaths only where necessary.
Entrances- Need some attention.
Litter- better provision. People need to be reminded to take litter home. Bins should be emptied more often.
Vandalism – try and stop misuse of Tower. Not seen much vandalism considering number of visitors.
Railings round tower – More against than for.
Information signs – Better signs may help promote site as place worthy of respect, historically and spiritually.
Traffic – too many cars in Wellhouse Lane and in surrounding lanes. More use of buses and walking with drop off point for disabled/elderly.
Disabled visitors – some car parking. No commercialism at Tor. Keep it as natural as possible.

1.1.7 Recreation

Visitors and local people come to the property for many reasons. As at many properties there are regular dog walkers who generally do not cause a problem with the stock on the fields. In the recent past some instances of sheep worrying from visitors dogs have made farmer's reluctant to graze the fields at certain times of the year. Grazing is very important for the conservation and landscape appearance of the site.

Comments from the public consultation undertaken in February 1998 highlighted that visitors seem to come for the sense of tranquillity and peace associated with the extensive views from St Michaels Tower. Many families return time again with either children or grand children accompanying them up to the top. Many people enjoy using the small lanes to the Tor where they can walk slowly and appreciate the tranquil countryside. The relative increases in traffic volume and traffic speed can make this experience less pleasant.

There are religious services on the summit of the Tor at many of the festival dates in the religious calendar for both Christian and Pagan religions. This can result in two different faiths having a service on the Tor at the same time.

Other people come to the Tor to quietly meditate on the summit of Tor field. Others celebrate the site with rhythmic drumming and the playing of instruments at certain festivals associated with the seasons and different phases of the Moon. Playing loud instruments particularly at night can interfere with the quiet enjoyment of the site by others.

In the summer, there are occasional instances of camping on Trust land with people usually staying for one night and then moving on. Near the Solstice some people have tried to stay more than one night when they realise that the adjacent camp site is not open. In the last three years the past instances of prolonged camping have not occurred.

Up until 1997 the local campsite was regularly open but in 1998 this site was closed which meant that campers had to go to a site over a mile away. Up to and during the Solstice many more people attempt to camp but move by the following morning. The Trust does not allow camping because it damages the site, and other peoples enjoyment, in a number of ways.


Chronology of key phases

Later Neolithic 2900-2200BC, flint and stone artefacts found from this period. later Bronze Age 1400-600BC. Very little known about this period. Romano-British 43AD-410AD. Prehistoric and Roman finds- early and late Roman pottery.
Dark Age centred on 600 AD, timber building, evidence of metal workings, substantial metal working, Roman Samian pot shards.
Late Saxon-early Medieval 600-1066 AD, monastic settlement, possible wooden church.
Medieval 1066-1485 AD, two or more successive stone churches on summit. Priest's house and other buildings on shoulder.
Tudor 1485-1603. Very little known about this period.
Stuart 1603-1714. Very little known about this period.
Hanover 1714-1901, rebuilding of the tower in 1848. The 1821 rates map and 1844 tithe map show Tor field (the lower enclosed fields?) were used for arable crops well into the 19th century. St Michaels Tower restored.
1933 National Trust acquires Tor field with St Michaels Tower.
1948 further restoration works on the St Michaels Tower.


In order to develop the conservation and management policies for the site, significance has been assessed on account of the importance of historical, cultural, archaeological and environmental categories.

1.3.1 Significance of the Glastonbury Tor

Can be summarised as:

Glastonbury Tor is one of the most recognisable, important and sacred countryside properties the Trust owns in the west country, and is of national and international significance.

Glastonbury's long historic record as a religious site is of very high cultural and social significance to the Church and Pagan religions and is recognisable to many people from around the world. As Glastonbury developed as a regional centre for trade and pilgrimage, the shape of the distinctive Tor Hill, which dominates the Levels landscape, would have indicated to pilgrims they were not far from the Town for worship and sustenance.

The town and the Tor are inextricably linked from their mutual past history. Glastonbury still attracts new generations of pilgrims of different religions to come to the Tor, and many tourists who visit the Tor to experience the expanse of views to the Mendips, Poldens, Exmoor and the Welsh Coast.

1.3.2 Significance of the Tor to Glastonbury Town

The physical presence of the Tor is of deep significance to the town and people of Glastonbury and the surrounding area. Photographs of the Tor often promote the whole county of Somerset with many local businesses using the Tor's image as part of their name for promotion. The Tor's history, legends and superstitions have become part of the Town's image attracting many of the large numbers of visitors from a wide range of nationalities who come to the ruins of the Abbey and up the laid path along the spine of the Tor. The areas' claim to be King Arthur's Isle of Avalon is understood if the surrounding (below sea level) land was still marsh and water without rhines and sea defences.

The public consultation undertaken by the Trust in 1998 at Glastonbury provided the Trust with strong views why the Tor was special. The consultation was important in identifying issues to be addressed in the implementation plan.

Eloquent comments from some of the respondents Why the Tor is special are listed below:

"Wild, beautiful and mysterious- appeals to the inner part of a person who seeks peace. To me a sacred place which I visit everyday to meditate, stroll and relax."
"Sense of freedom and Space."
"The Tor is a magnet for people researching Arthurian legends."
"I can gain exercise, joy and fresh perspective on life when I need it."
"Glastonbury and the Tor have been the geographic home of our tradition, making the Tor our own equivalent of Canterbury Cathedral, etc."

"Vantage point for surrounding countryside – a place for walks and to sit."
"Wonderful vista of Somerset."
"Experience of the view from the top is just amazing. I hope it never becomes another Stonehenge."
"Uplifting and stimulating."

"Historical landmark and sacred place."
"Unique landmark, draws many people from different parts of the world."
"Looms majestically out of Autumn mists."
"Long history and natural setting"
"The Tor gives that feel good factor."

1.3.3 Significance of Archaeology (Martin Papworth contribution)

Glastonbury Tor is of national archaeological significance, St. Michael's tower is a scheduled ancient monument.

The Tor as a distinctive and prominent natural landmark will always have drawn human activity towards it. The terracing of its slopes and the tower on its summit give an immediate impression of this attraction.

The discovery of flint artefacts on the Tor dating from the Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods together with the Romano-British pottery show that people have been visiting, perhaps occupying the Tor for over 10,000 years. These people may have venerated the site within their various religious traditions in the same way that modern pagans venerate the Tor and practice their beliefs on the site.

The Tor is highly significant as a 'Dark Age' site. Philip Rahtz's excavations (1964-6) discovered rare pottery of the 6th century here, earlier than anything found at Glastonbury Abbey. It gives substance to folklore surrounding the British war leader Arthur and the Tor being the centre of the legendary Isle of Avalon. It was believed from the early medieval period that Arthur was buried at Glastonbury and would one day return from Avalon to save the nation. This caused Arthur to be described as 'the once and future king'.

The Tor and the great medieval abbey of Glastonbury are closely linked. Glastonbury Abbey is of national significance as within Britain it was one of the earliest monasteries to be founded, it became one of the wealthiest abbeys, and was almost the last to be closed in 1539. The Tor begins and ends the story of the Abbey while the church built on the summit is an emblem of the Abbey's possession of the Tor. The Dark Age evidence marks the earliest archaeological evidence for a monastery at Glastonbury. The hanging of the last Abbott of Glastonbury on the Tor marks the end of the monastery.

The archaeology of the Tot is highly significant and key features such as the terraces and the function of the Dark Age site are open to interpretation. Future understanding of the past use of the Tor is locked in the buried archaeological deposits preserved on the property. The preservation of this fragile resource is a key significance of the Trust's management of Glastonbury Tor.

1.3.4 Further Research and Recording required to enhance our understanding of significance includes:

St Michaels Tower
• Full systematic survey and detailed recording of the current state of the Tower are required.

Surrounding fields- Archaeology
• Geophysical surveys to investigate the three 'shoulder areas' on the western spine of the field.
• Geophysical survey on tithe map fields 2160, 1653, 2197 and 2199.
• Lower terraces of Tor field to be incorporated into an RCHME (Royal Commission of Historic Monuments of England) survey.
• Consider 'augering' of terraces in some sample locations.
• Survey Lynchets for signs of cultivation (viticulture?) or earthworks.
• Further archaeological research should be encouraged on areas not owned by the Trust to determine the past relationship between these areas the Abbey and the Tor.

The landscape and topography
• More information is needed on the following groups: moths, grasshoppers, hoverflies, beetles, bees, spiders, snails and ants implying survey work.
• Research into past ownership of the site after the Dissolution and before the tithe map of 1821.
• Topography survey that accurately maps the route of footpaths and other features.


2.1.1 Archaeology

The most important aspect of the whole site is to safeguard the archaeology that can be researched by non invasive techniques such as geophysical and magnetometer investigation. This is especially true of the summit area of Tor Hill but probably extends to the lower terraces of this hill and into some of the smaller fields.

The archaeology present on the summit and still below the concrete apron that surrounds St. Michaels Tower is vulnerable when the replacement of the concrete apron is considered.

• The archaeology is also vulnerable from the current cracking of the concrete apron and percolation of water causing possible erosion.
• Footpaths may have undiscovered archaeology adjacent to their current routes. Any remedial work on the footpaths must be carefully considered and monitored.
• Inappropriate past planting of memorial trees, small copses and specimen trees may lead to damage from roots to archaeological remains when these trees mature.
• The site is vulnerable from people researching myths and legends who may choose to dig and use metal detecting equipment to prove their hypothesis, damaging archaeology for future generations.

2.1.2 Landscape and Nature Conservation

• The nature conservation interest of the site is vulnerable to inappropriate grazing regimes and farming policies that do not recognise the importance of the grassland of Tor Hill. The surrounding fields, apart from the Lynchets have lost an unimproved grassland sward.
• The cider orchards round the Tor are vulnerable from a lack of management as trees naturally decline and the orchard loses the distinctive Somerset cider tree varieties.
• The small field hedges are vulnerable from lack of protection from grazing, and in some cases inappropriate management.
• Rabbits are damaging the Tor Field on its southern slopes.
• The current economic state of farming is of some concern in our maintenance of the landscape. We value our partnership with farmers and want this to continue in a mutually beneficial way.

2.1.3 St Michaels Tower

• Vandalism to the structure.
• Weathering of detailing to sculpture due to exposed location.
• Inappropriate use of repair mortars from previous restoration works causing decay problems with the different types of stonework in the construction.
• Potential loss of historical information about past repair methods and techniques.
• Loss of archaeological information through repairs to the fabric.
• Vegetation growth, particularly at high level, causing damage to the fabric.
• Weathering of hard apron capping to the footings of the Tower and buried remains.
• Inappropriate patch repairing of hard apron capping of the Tower and buried remains.

2.1.4 Visitors

• Interpretative material concerning the archaeology is worn and inaccurate at some locations thus not giving visitors useful information about the site.
• The main access points are a mix of structures appearing as a clutter of different facilities which do not do justice to the importance of the site. They could be rationalised.
• In some locations the cement paths are old and worn and are not protecting the grass adjacent to the path.
• There is lack of provision of good signing for visitors to find the two main entrances to the property.
• The siting of an ice cream van at one of the main entrance locations is a sensitive issue.
• Traffic and its speed in the small lanes approaching the Tor is a problem for pedestrians.


Overall Conservation Policy

To preserve forever the peaceful sacred nature of Glastonbury Tor with all its archaeological, historical, and natural history interest, whilst providing better access and interpretation, thereby giving visitors a more memorable and enjoyable visit.

2.2.1 Archaeological

A.1. To preserve features of archaeological significance.

In archaeological vulnerable areas the protective grassland cover will be maintained.

Surrounding fields need to be surveyed by archaeologists and then considered for extending scheduling (legal protection designation from English Heritage). Field names also need further archival research.

Settlements. Prevent inappropriate memorial tree planting which damage remains.

In managing the farmland there must be a presumption against ploughing and reseeding of grassland.

Paths. Repair and record any erosion features that form.

A.2. Promote research into areas of archaeological significance

Allow access to information and encourage specific projects for students to further our understanding of the landscape and archaeology using non-invasive methods.

Building Conservation

B1. To protect St Michaels Tower as far as is possible from further decay.

Initiate a full condition and recording survey of the tower with conservation recommendations.

Following survey draw up full maintenance programme within agreed principles of repair as part of the Scheduled Monument Consent process.

B2. To repair the Tower sensitively so that the variance in different types of stone and mortar are retained and not lost, respecting their archaeological importance as a record of the building phases.

B3. To provide access to the Tower for interpretation while building works are implemented.

Investigate the possibility of scaffold access to part of the Tower for visitors while craftsmen undertake works.

Write temporary interpretation material to explain the conservation process being undertaken. Consult with religious and other authorities to determine least disruptive time when building works can be undertaken...

Explain arrangements through the various media.

2.2.2 Landscape

L1. To maintain the Tor in an open farmed landscape.

Draw up an appropriate acquisition strategy to safeguard the important setting of the Tor property.

To safeguard the Tor property within the open farmed landscape the National Trust will contribute to the debate in local planning issues.

L2. To maintain and enhance the wildlife interest within this farmed landscape.

The property will be entered into the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) where the appropriate grazing regimes will be followed to safeguard the wildlife interest of the grasslands. Agreements with tenants and graziers will be sought which follow these prescriptions and which do not allow ploughing of the sward.

Draw up within CSS a work programme to restore/maintain orchards in their historic sites, plant and lay hedges within current field boundaries, and maintain fences to protect hedges from grazing.

Prevent new inappropriate tree planting on open slopes and consider removal from the open slopes of some trees planted in the recent past.

Maintain current shooting policy to control the rabbit population to prevent excessive digging and damage to the grasslands by rabbits.

2.2.3 Nature Conservation

N1. To maintain and manage the grassland, hedgerows and woodland for the benefit of landscape and nature conservation.

Grassland. Encourage benign grazing regimes with minimal inputs of fertiliser and pesticides within existing grazing licences and tenancy agreements.

Initiate surveys on vegetation and selected invertebrate groups of these grasslands.

Hedgerows. Identify areas where gapping up/standard tree planting needed of local Somerset provenance plants.

Devise work programmes of biennial cutting of hedges to provide more of a wildlife and landscape resource.

Orchards. In fields 368 and 3748 replant spaces in the orchard with traditional Somerset varieties of cider apple tree over three year period. Draw up an appropriate work programme to water, look after trees and tree guards, and replant if necessary. Liaise with suitable volunteers, such as Glastonbury Conservation Society.

Mammals. Survey site for badgers, bats and other mammal groups using volunteers if possible.

2.2.4 Recreation/Access/lnformation

R1. To support sustainable recreational activities and access to the Tor.

Complete public consultation exercise and amend as necessary

Access. Survey state of paths, 'pinch points' and areas of erosion.

Consider resurface of paths (if needed), widen paths where needed, and use of more environmentally friendly hard landscaping. Seek archaeological advice within this process.

Consider relaying of the surface that surrounds St. Michael's Tower with environmentally friendly surface to withstand wear and tear.

Commission a redesign of the main access points to the Tor via Moneybox, and Fairfield at bottom of Wellhouse Lane, taking into account gates for disabled access, local landscaping considerations and any possible archaeological interest.

Traffic Issues. Liaise with appropriate local authority's on initiatives to encourage pedestrian access to the Tor through Bushy Combe and reduced traffic speed in small lanes; provision of park and ride; car parking in Glastonbury; disabled parking at the Tor and better traffic management at festival times such as one way systems.

Some liaison with emergency services over entrance points.

Interpretation. With full consultation of interested parties propose suitable interpretation for the Tor field and
St Michaels Tower to be situated at the two main entrances to the property.

Camping. Wardening staff (and trained volunteers) to start system of regular patrols days before, and at time of solstice and special festivals in surrounding area.

Wardening staff (and trained volunteers) to randomly patrol Tor early in the morning to ask campers to take tents down.

Dog Walking. Wardening staff (and trained volunteers) to educate dog owners to prevent dogs chasing livestock.

Music. Wardening staff (and trained volunteers) to dissuade members of the public intent on playing loud music at inappropriate times.

Visitor facilities. Facilities should remain in the town to generate economic benefits and where appropriately sited. Purpose-built facilities for visitors at the Tor are not appropriate for this location for all the vulnerability issues outlined.

2.2.5 Education

E1. To improve educational value of the property.

Compile an education pack with if adequate demand is shown in liaison with education and interpretation officers.

Make Warden(s) available to help with environmental education on the Tor if requested by teachers or schools.

2.2.6 Public Relations

PR1. To keep people well informed of issues affecting the property.

Liaise with the Communications Officer on provision of press releases and other media for publication to explain work and issues being addressed on the property.

Provide proactive articles for local press, radio and TV.

Consider a public exhibition of proposals to gain public support as part of the consultation of people over management at the Tor property.

PR2. To gain the support of local people and visitors for initiatives for the better management of the Tor. Partnerships are important.

Provide walks and talks to local people and community groups.

Encourage local people to act as voluntary wardens who can be briefed by Trust staff about issues and disseminate information to other people while on the Tor.

Encourage local schools and local conservation groups to help with conservation tasks on the Tor eg hedge planting/laying.

Provide information for the Glastonbury Tor Advisory Committee-members of this committee should be more widely known within Glastonbury so people can contact the Trust.

Liaise with local bodies over issues such as park and ride, parking for disabled, and trail routes to the Tor.

PR.3 To recruit new NT members

Provide an NT information land rover with a recruiter during the summer months to gain new members to help with NT's work as a charity, and gain support from local people by providing information on current issues at the property.

2.2.7 Maintenance

M.1 To maintain the estate fabric of the property to the highest standards

Adopt one style/make of farm gate (after researching the local style) or stock fencing for agricultural use on the property.

Draw up work programme for inspection of footpaths, stock fences and gates, way marking signs, omega and interpretation signs.

Set up regular inspections programme (quinquennial surveys) following completion of works from the condition survey.


2.3.1 Development of Management Plan

As part of this conservation statement a table of outline management proposals and mitigation of impact of these proposals has been produced. See Part Three.

2.3.2 Consultation

To date the consultation process included a poster display explaining many of the issues the Trust felt important and also asked people to contribute why the Tor was important to them. Various talks were given to local conservation groups or societies on the issues and those groups had the chance to contribute their views.

Public meetings were also held with the Town Council and in the Town Hall with full media representation.

Further consultation will include English Heritage, Mendip District Council, SCC. And further public meetings to give the opportunity for local people to comment on the draft plan.

2.3.3 Decision making

Decisions about the implementation of the proposals outlined in this document will be coordinated by the Trust.

Plans requiring Scheduled Monument Consent which include work to the St Michaels Tower and its immediate environs will follow formal procedures as required under the respective legislation, as well as following National Trust guidelines which complement this process.

2.3.4 Adoption and Review

The plan needs to be 'owned' by a number of Bodies who have some interest in the management of the Tor property. This includes English Heritage, Glastonbury Town Council, Mendip District Council, local people, amenity groups and interests. Once this plan has been widely adopted and following initial capital works, it is intended that the plan will be reviewed every five years.



All elements of Glastonbury Tor are inalienably owned by the National Trust. They cannot be sold or mortgaged to raise funds.







A1. To preserve features of archaeological significance

Removal of some trees planted in archaeological sensitive areas.

Loss of trees.

Explanation of work to the public.


Further surveying and then consideration for further scheduling of these areas.

None to access. Recognition of some archaeological importance with legal protection.

None needed.

Building Conservation – St Michaels Tower


B1. To protect St Michaels Tower as far as is practicable from further decay.

Full condition survey and recording of the Tower.

Up to date state of the Tower's condition will be known including inaccessible upper areas.


Following survey full maintenance programme drawn up.

Repair of Tower but some loss of past building detail.

Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC) needed from English Heritage.

Photogrammetric recording of the Tower?

SMC needed before works start.


Regular Inspections.

Small repairs rather than big projects.


B2. To repair the Tower sensitively so that variance in different types of stone and mortar are retained and not lost, respecting their archaeological importance as a record of the building phases.

After condition survey draw up programme of works to sensitively repair mortar or stone using craftsman specialist builders.

Repair will be seen.

Original work retained as much as possible as true record of building phases.

Accurately record work undertaken.

B3. To provide access to the Tower while building works implemented.

Scaffold access to the public.

Full Risk Assessment for proposals.

Disruption to religious ceremonies on the Tor.

Follow recommendations from Risk Assessment.

Consult with religious and pagan authorities and avoid work at these times if possible.


Temporary interpretation signs at strategic locations on approach to the Tower.

Information to explain to the public the activity of craftsmen repair the Tower


Landscape and Nature Conservation


L2.To maintain and enhance the wildlife interest within this farmed landscape

Hedge replanting, fence renewal to protect' hedges and control grazing regime within Countryside Stewardship. Control of rabbit population.

Restoration of orchards and hedges. Greater control of grazing. Reduction of rabbit population.

Liaison with farming tenants and graziers.

Explanation if needed.

N1. To maintain and manage the grassland, hedgerows and woodland for the benefit of landscape and nature conservation.

Follow benign grazing regimes within Countryside Stewardship guidelines.

Hedgerows gapping up/standard tree planting.

Less flexibility to farmers and graziers.

Restoration of hedges.

Negotiations over rent with farmers and graziers.

Use local Somerset provenance trees.


Replanting of fruit trees in historic locations.

Restoration of feature.

Possible damage to past archaeology.

Use Somerset varieties.

Full consultation with archaeologists.

Recreation, Access, Information


R1. To support sustainable recreational activities and access to the Tor.


Survey state of paths, 'pinch points' and erosion.

Repair work programme and may highlight work in archaeological sensitive areas.

Full consultation with archaeologists.


Resurface of concrete apron round Tower

Possible damage to archaeologically sensitive areas.

Full consultation with archaeologists


Commission redesign of the main access points for pedestrian access.

Improve disabled access at entrance and on part of path.

Consultation with disabled groups.


Landscape improvements/New entrances.

Consultation with Local Councils and other amenity groups.


Traffic Proposal

Proposals for one way system traffic management in small lanes round Tor.

Better traffic management (in time) round the Tor.

Liaison with emergency services and highway agencies.

Consultation with local people and Council over proposals.

Recreation / Access / lnformation


R1. To support sustainable recreational activities and access to the Tor.

Redesign of new interpretation boards in appropriate locations

New up to date information for visitors.

Full consultation with Archaeologists and local people over any proposals.


Better signing of main entrance points of Tor with appropriate style of sign for location.

Less problems with visitors climbing fences and gates to find main footpaths to Tor.

Liaison with Mendip DC Rights of Way officer, and permission sought from adjacent landowners to install some signs.



E1. To improve educational value of the property.

Compile an education pack (if adequate demand shown)

Information for teachers taking school groups to the property.

Consultation with Archaeologists and local people on contents of pack.

Public Relations


PR1. To keep people well informed of issues affecting the property.

Proactive articles for local press, radio and TV.

Higher profile of the property.

NT seen to be actively managing the property.


Listed below are the reports and documents which have been used to date, as part of the investigations into the sites archaeology, mythology and biology.

1979 Glastonbury Tor Maze. Geoffrey Ashe, pub Gothic Image
1980 Glastonbury Tor – Archaeological Features affecting Management. D W Thackeray, Chief Archaeologist, NT Cirencester.
1982 Glastonbury Tor Biological Survey. Biological Survey Team, NT Cirencester
1996 A Glastonbury Community Plan. Civic Trust Regeneration Unit
1997 An Archaeological Desk Top Study of Glastonbury Tor and its Environs. Charles and Nancy Hollinrake, Glastonbury – extensive reference list used in this report.
1998 Extensive Urban Survey: Somerset Scheduled Area Statement. John Salvatore, English Heritage
1998 Biological Survey of Glastonbury Tor. Tim Corner, Somerset Environment Records Centre, Pickney, Taunton
1998 Public Consultation Glastonbury. Comments from members of the public.

   Glastonbury Tor 

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