Olympic Opening Ceremony Puts Glastonbury Tor On The Map
Glastonbury Tor, the rocky outcropping rising from southwest England’s Somerset Levels, is soaking up the international spotlight thanks to being the most prominent part of the set for the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.
Though the Tor — the word is Celtic for hillock — is a well known destination for Brits, who hike up it to visit St. Michael’s Tower, which crowns its crest, it is likely unknown to foreigners.
The Tor’s most notable feature — tower aside — is its reputation: This hump in the sea of fields has been associated not only with Authurian legend, in which it is said to sit atop an underworld kingdom, but with all sorts of stories about fairies, saints and the like. The mysterious terraces on the side of the Tor are said to be a neolithic labyrinth.
Protected by Britain’s National Trust, the Tor is a popular destination for those interested in the U.K.’s Celtic history and those interested in modern rock, who congregate nearby for Glastonbury’s renowned annual music festival.
As for the tower, it is a fairly modern addition. Though a fort has sat atop the Tor since roughly the 5th century, St. Michael’s Tower was built in the 15th century. Today it looks weathered but majestic, a combination that makes it popular with photographers and, apparently, film directors organizing Olympic Ceremonies.
The Tor presides over the faux countryside in the set mock up shown off earlier this week by director Danny Boyle.
As the Opening Ceremony set shows, the area around the tower is rustic bordering on cliched. Even though it is a mere two and a half hours from London, this is the sort of place where walking sticks are considered as de rigeur as cable-knit sweaters made from local wool, of which there is a great deal.
After the British media announced the Tor’s starring role in the opening ceremony, Glastonbury Councillor Alan Gloak requested that the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games allow some of the region’s sheep to participate in the event according to local reports. In a decision that mirrored the Chinese use of a beautiful young lip syncer during the Beijing ceremony, the Committee denied the request.
Glastonbury’s starring role in London Olympics
Glastonbury Tor took a starring role in Friday night’s London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. The full capacity stadium crowd of 80,000 including Royalty, heads of state and A-list celebrities, were joined by an estimated audience of a billion worldwide. Glastonbury was center stage during the £27 million show titled ‘Green and Pleasant Land’, a name borrowed from a line in William Blake’s famous poem and English anthem “Jerusalem”. The poem/anthem pays tribute to the legends of Joseph of Arimathea in Glastonbury and the Olympic ceremony which was designed to highlight the “Best of British” culture, tipped it’s hat to Somerset. The Queen and senior royals were in attendance where James Bond actor Daniel Craig, Soccer ace David Beckham and Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney took part in the ceremony.
The iconic Glastonbury landmark was a brilliant central part of the ceremony, and was at the climax of the event being used to fly the 204 flags of the competing nations as the athletes arrived at the venue. This is fantastic publicity for Glastonbury, the Somerset region and our epic film to be based on the ancient legends of Glastonbury. As a result of the star-studded Olympic event and Glastonbury’s role in it, many more are now keeping an eye on an amazing story as it develops. -Photo by Torimages