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EARTHWORKS ON GLASTONBURY TOR

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Earthworks on Glastonbury Tor have been interpreted in at least three ways. Originally these were thought to be Medieval strip lynchets, however it has been noted that the top of the tor is too steep for effective cultivation with or without animals. It suggests if these were lynchets it was during a time of extreme land-hunger that forced people to marginal land. It is known that the lower terraces at least were cultivated, as seen in a drawing of 1670 which has sharp contrast to the wilder terraces above. This cultivation remained until at least the 19th century.

Another theory was that of a spiral maze, in a similar if very elongated pattern to those found elsewhere dating to the Iron Age. This is a strong idea in popular culture but ultimately unlikely to be the explanation as it is rather too subjective and it would be unusually placed.

It is possible that the terraces are Neolithic modifications of the natural Tor. The Tor is visible from around the landscape and would have been an important landmark so it is not unlikely it would have been modified by the people living in the surrounding area. Later on the lower terraces were cultivated and the upper ones left due to their unsuitability. It is also likely that they have seen other uses throughout their history although there is no evidence for this.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the English Heritage website.