Tag Archives: King Arthur

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.”

What is under Glastonbury Tor?

What is under Glastonbury Tor?This seemingly simple question has mystified people for over a hundred years – what is beneath Glastonbury Tor?

The simple answer is that it depends on just how far down you want to go.

The surface of Glastonbury Tor is covered mainly by grass, with the exception of the paved walkway that was installed by King Arthur, and the half acre test area of garlic and vines that has been planted by Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers as part of their tor takeover plans.

But below this seemingly prosaic surface is where it gets interesting!

Between 0 and 15cm below the surface – geologists call this the Strangularis Plateau

On Glastonbury Tor the upper topsoil layer is riddled with wild hamster burrows since they went rampant in the 1970’s. This breed known locally as Somerset Stranglers have such contradictory qualities that the National Trust has consistently been unable to take the decisive action of a cull. This isn’t helped by the large number of local protest groups, some in favour of reducing the hamster population, and some – such as the Strangler Preservation Society – who aggressively defend hamster rights.

Although the burrows are too small for a human foot to get trapped in, they are a risk to dog paws, which is one of the reasons for the hundreds of Keep Off The Grass signs on Glastonbury Tor.

Between 15cm and 30cm below the surface – geologists call this the Mud Layer

Although they have very sharp claws for fighting, the hamsters that are native to Glastonbury Tor have adorably weak forearms and can not dig very deep. This means the lower area of topsoil is undisturbed, and is mainly composed of spoilings from the tunnel excavations at the now disused St. Michael’s Prison.

Between 30cm and 100cm below the surface – geologists call this the Paving Layer

The recent geophysics scan commissioned by Glastonbury Archaeology Society revealed that King Arthur and his merry men actually paved the whole of Glastonbury Tor in ancient times but local residents gradually took and used these slabs to make patios in their back gardens.

Between 100cm and 200cm below the surface – geologists call this the 42 Layer

The biggest 42 in the world is believed to be below the surface of Glastonbury Tor, revealed by two consecutive geophysics scans. It is formed from protrusions of iron from the core of Glastonbury Tor.

Between 200cm and the centre of the earth

The majority of the majestic mount that people see when they visit Glastonbury is made of solid iron – a huge geological anomaly that weighs as much as the moon, but is much more compact and convenient. This explains why metal detectors do not work properly within a two mile radius of Glastonbury Tor.

Tunnels beneath Glastonbury Tor

Legend has it that Glastonbury Tor is riddled with a hidden labyrinth of tunnels – a maze haunted by the ghosts of untold numbers of monks and druids who got lost attempting to find their way from the tor to Glastonbury Abbey, or the Glastonbury Druidic Headquarters. No evidence has ever been found of these tunnels. The only tunnel known to exist was that created by prisoners at St. Michael’s Prison that was cut short just before reaching Castle Cary train station.

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.

Keep off the path signs cause incendiary rage

Many visitors to Glastonbury Tor were understandably upset by the arrival of 500 Keep Off The Grass signs in January. But they have been thrown into complete confusion by a new set of signs instructing them to keep off large sections of the path that runs from the National Trust gift shop at the base of the tor to St. Michael’s Tower at the top.

These emergency measures have been put in place because dozens of people visit the tor every year and the pathway that was installed in ancient times by King Arthur and his merry men is showing clear signs of water damage.

Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor explained; “This is just a temporary measure because of the recent flooding. We are trying to give it time to dry out. It is quite simple – when visitors walk up the path and encounter one of the banned sections they need to tiptoe along the channel of gravel on the edge that separates the grass from the pathway. Obviously this involves some nimble footwork, but we have trained assistants on hand to prop people up if they look like they are going to stumble. We have also set up a nimbleness assessment area at the gift shop where visitors can practice walking along a narrow channel of gravel to see if they meet the standards required to make a proper ascent. It allows us to weed out anyone who looks like they will cause a problem.”

Speaking on behalf of the Glastonbury Pilgrims Union, Chief Stairmaster Paul Hompkins was keen to bring attention to the challenge that union members are now encountering on their daily barefoot walk from Glastonbury town to the top of the tor; “For many years, union members have taken special measures to avoid eroding the path that leads to the top of Glastonbury Tor, but unfortunately there is a worn channel up the middle that collected a lot of water in the recent flood. This Christmas we began sewing little bags of cement into our trousers and shaking it down our legs to try and fill the holes. So far we have reversed fifty years of wear, but we still have a way to go.”

Hompkins continued; “You can understand that our barefoot ascent of the tor has become very difficult because so much is now confined to the painful gravel channels. Our members have got around this by strapping tennis rackets on their feet. Interestingly this seems to add to the solemnity of their penitent journey.”

Welsh Rarebit deemed non-mystical by the Mystical University of Glastonbury

After an unbroken run of twelve years on the syllabus, lecturers at the food science department of the Mystical University of Glastonbury have decided to stop teaching students about Welsh Rarebit.

Despite its name, Welsh Rarebit is a food that was invented during the reign of King Arthur in Glastonbury, and the Magna Carta has many references to its use as something other than a foodstuff. For example, the Abbot of Glastonbury Monastery is known less for his liturgical achievements than for the fact that he repelled the invading forces of Henry VIII for over three months using only the power of Welsh Rarebit.

Head of food science Andrew Wemblefield explained; “It’s not that the university doubts the mystical properties of rarebit, it’s just that Welsh foodstuffs have started to dominate our syllabus, leading mystical foods from other cultures to take a back seat. We have the need for a more balanced, holistic approach. If we leave students to learn about Welsh Rarebit in their own time it enables us to help them learn about the healing properties of paella, the talisman effect of the bratwurst, and most importantly, the use of low fat Petits Filou in séances.”