Tag Archives: Chief Gatekeeper

pH testing introduced at Glastonbury Tor

pH test sheetFear over the impact of acid rain has led to the introduction of random pH tests on visitors to Glastonbury Tor – the spot-checks tell whether they are acidic, alkaline or pH neutral.

This marks a return to interest in old fashioned environmental concerns that are increasingly set aside in a world more interested in global warming and that Fukushima thing. But it also comes on top of the new nimbleness assessment that visitors have to pass in order to climb to St. Michael’s Tower at the top of Glastonbury Tor.

Not all visitors are given a pH test as this would take too long, but the testing area has already proved to have a deterrent value, leading to an unusually high number of sherbet lemon sweets being discarded in local car parks.

If visitors are found to be excessively acidic when they are tested then a range of measures are then offered to bring them back to pH neutrality, including a quick wash-down with Neutralia pH neutral shampoo, or in some cases the simple offer of a Rennie indigestion tablet.

Titania Bonham-Smythe, Chief Gatekeeper at Glastonbury Tor is quick to reassure visitors:

“After a while you start to be able to tell which are the more acidic visitors. In some cases it’s when people don’t meet your eye as they walk through the testing station. And if people are rubbing their chest and coughing that’s often a sign they are suffering acid indigestion – it’s the little things that give them away – people with something to hide. Sometimes you just strike lucky. I recently stopped a gentleman, rubbed his forehead with my pH testing swab and could immediately tell that he worked in a Duracell factory – the readings went through the roof! He claimed to be doing us a favour, saying he was going to roll around on the grass and make it have a pH value of 7, but you know it doesn’t work that way – first you let the alkaline battery manufacturers in, then it’s the vinegar distillers, and where does it end?”

“But the fact is, most visitors have nothing to worry about – as long as they are willing to submit to our rigorous regime of pH neutrality they are perfectly welcome to do whatever they want on the tor. Oh, and they will need to keep off the grass, the garlic and large sections of the ancient path that was installed by King Arthur and his merry men.”

King Arthur had Glastonbury Tor paved in ancient times

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor are familiar with the information boards at the gift shop, that tell the history of the tor since it was discovered in 1275.  Chief Gatekeeper Titania Bonham-Smythe will often quiz visitors on key facts before allowing them entry, much to the annoyance of visitors with poor short term memories who sometimes have to take the test several times.

But a recent geophysics scan commissioned by Glastonbury Archaeology Society has uncovered interesting facts that fill big gaps in our knowledge of the tor that have mystified experts for hundreds of years.

Geophysics is the electronic mapping technique used by Tony Robinson’s Time Team to create underground and subsurface images that tell archaeologists where to dig trenches.

It is common knowledge that King Arthur was responsible for creating the path that runs from the base of the tor where the gift shop now stands, to St. Michael’s Tower at the top.  Preservation of the ancient path is a real challenge for the National Trust.  But geophysics has revealed that the paving was once much more widespread – covering the whole of Glastonbury Tor.

Expert opinion is divided as to why King Arthur would have wanted the whole thing paved, but we now know that only the imprints from the paving slabs can be found on the electronic geophys scans – the slabs themselves are long gone.

Barry Spright, chief scanner at Torsion Bar Dynamics, the geophysics company responsible for the latest scan is keen to put forward his explanation; “Historical records tell us that when they travelled around Britain, King Arthur and his merry men paved important areas to mark his reign – the largest being Trafalgar Square, although of course it was called Lady Guinevere Plaza at the time. Even today you can visit many high streets in England and see the evidence of their work.”

Spright continues; “Our scans have revealed the huge scale of King Arthur’s original work – the imprints left by the paving stones are clearly visible deep underground.  The question is what happened to them? Could it be that all those slabs paving the back gardens of Glastonbury once graced the tor itself?”

If you have a paving slab in your garden that you believe might once have been on Glastonbury Tor you can hand it in at Glastonbury Police Station during the 30 day amnesty.

Don’t be tempted by the hamsters at Glastonbury Tor say vets

A Somerset Strangler on Glastonbury TorLocal vets have advised visitors to stop stuffing their pockets with the hamsters that are swarming over Glastonbury Tor this year.

The huge population of hamsters, known by local breeders as Somerset Stranglers because of the tendency of females to kill their babies when food runs out, has swelled since they were granted protected species status in 1974.

A Somerset Strangler about to biteHamster experts say that Somerset Stranglers were introduced to the area by Dutch tulip dealers in the seventeenth century when they found them to be a breed that could be trusted to guard valuable tulip bulbs.  Because they don’t have any natural predators on Glastonbury Tor they have bred like wildfire and it was only the Somerset potato famine of 1924 that caused their numbers to dwindle.

A Somerset Strangler biting the hand of a childTitania Bonham-Smythe, the Chief Gatekeeper at Glastonbury Tor explains; “When visitors walk up Glastonbury Tor and see the hamsters frolicking on the grass it is very tempting to put a couple in their pockets.  But people need to remember that these are not the same friendly hamsters you find in a pet shop.  They live in the wild and are not tame.  They are ruthless scavengers that will quickly become savage with any human that denies them food or cotton wool for their nest.”

A leaflet is available at the National Trust gift shop explaining the dangers of Somerset Stranglers.

Perky pensioner Percival Angstrom returns to Tor for prestigious Vortex Award

Today OAP Percival Angstrom was welcomed back to Glastonbury Tor at a reception arranged by Chief Gatekeeper Titania Bonham-Smythe. This followed his dramatic airlift in January when he was discovered unconscious in St. Michael’s Tower.

Angstrom was presented with a basket of new age products from the National Trust gift shop at the tor, including a delightful selection of lentil tea and Hobgoblin Marmalade.

But the highlight of the event was when the plucky pensioner was given the Vortex Award – a special cut-glass trophy in the shape of St. Michael’s Tower inscribed with his name. It means he joins a very prestigious club that only has eight other members.

Bonham-Smythe explained; “We have now deployed each of the thousand hand-painted signs we received as part of the annual shipment from head office. When Mr. Angstrom visited the tor last month there were still some signs that were not in their correct place, and the particular No Entry sign he encountered on the wrong side of the main door to the tower almost caused him to come a cropper. The St. Michael’s vortex is something that members of the public shouldn’t be too concerned about though. It is very rare, and usually there is a member of staff on hand to step in and help using the special anti-vortex equipment.”

Before leaving the Tor, Mr. Angstrom was shown the display Making Toast Through The Ages that was installed in St. Michael’s Tower as part of the cleanup operation following his vortex. Unfortunately the event was cut short when a slice of toast became wedged in a Toastmatic 4000, setting off the smoke alarm.