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Somerset Historic Environment Record

23604

Site Name: Late Saxon and medieval occupation, Glastonbury Tor
SCHEDULED MONUMENT: St Michael's Church, monastic remains, and other settlement remains on Glastonbury Tor [No:29700]
Civil Parish: Glastonbury
Part of:
PRN 22946Glastonbury Tor
Grid Ref: ST 512 386 (ST 53 NW)
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Image: Image of HER 23604 - Photo by Somerset County Council (05 July 1989)
  HER 23604 - Photo by Somerset County Council (05 July 1989)

Public access:

As far as we are aware all or part of this site is on National Trust land open to the public. (Open Access). [Information last updated on 20 December 2002]

Details:

Excavation of the summit and the shoulder of Glastonbury Tor in 1964-66 (PRN 44979). Late Saxon - early medieval evidence (C10-11). The only feature on the summit was a cross base orientated E-W. Consisted of a foundation mostly of upper lias blocks set well into the rock. Likely to have supported a free standing cross on a plinth. Well stratified complex on the shoulder consisting of buildings set on a series of platforms and cut away areas in the rock, well defined and largely undisturbed. Four buildings identified. One of them was roughly square with a floor space of 11sqft, the sides mostly of natural rock although there were fragments of dry stone foundations. Some post holes in the floor suggested internal supports. The position of the entrance was uncertain. Another major building was 12x16ft represented by four post holes 12" in diameter on a platform. There were small hearths in two of the buildings and plaster was used for the floor of one. Sherds were scattered across the site. The buildings probably originated in late Saxon times but may well have been standing or in use for up to a century and a half after the Conquest. A wheel-headed cross confirms the Christian basis for the complex - the preponderance of fish and bird bones and egg shells is consistent with this Interpretation: may be a christian hermitage. The buildings could be monastic cells with the largest building being a wooden church or oratory although there is not really enough evidence to support this. The mid C13 charter which says that there were two lay brothers residing on the Tor could support this (see PRN 23605). It may have originated as an independent monastery which was then taken over by the abbey. {1}

See PRN 23603 for earlier occupation and 23605 for subsequent churches. {4}

The cross head consists of three arms of a wheel cross, arms plain with edge moulding , bottom arm retains part of shaft. Cut from a single block of Doulting oolite. {5}

The cross-head is now on display in the Museum of Somerset, Taunton. {6}

References:

1 Excavation report - Rahtz, P. Excavations at Glastonbury Tor, Somerset 1964-6. Archaeological Journal  127 (1970), 1-81
2 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 53 NW 4 (1978) Location: HER files under PRN 23605.
3 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 53 NW 5 (1966) Location: HER files under PRN 23605.
4 Verbal communication - Dennison, E [Ed]. Somerset County Council, Sites and Monuments Record (31/05/1985). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained
5 Detailed records - Foster, S. A gazetteer of the Anglo-Saxon sculpture in historic Somerset. Somerset Archaeology and Natural History  131 (1987), 49-80
6 Verbal communication - Webster, C [Chris]. Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record (30/9/2011). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained

Record created in May 1985

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