Wells Cathedral welcomes visitors everyday of the year, to attend one of the regular daily services or simply wander around this amazing building. Only by visiting can you properly experience this wonderful and holy place.
Somerset Levels and Moors
Glastonbury’s history and legends must be seen in terms of its isolated location within The Somerset Levels (or the Somerset Levels and Moors as they are called less commonly but more correctly). This is a sparsely populated coastal plain and wetland area of central Somerset, England, between the Quantock and Mendip hills, a must-see for all visitors to the area. To see the full article click here.
Sweet Track – A prehistoric timber trackway
The Sweet Track (named after the man who discovered it) is the oldest prehistoric trackway found in Britain. It was constructed nearly 6000 years ago by early farmers in Somerset. The workmanship is remarkably sophisticated: woods of different qualities were chosen to make a sturdy footway over the marshy lands, known today as the ‘Somerset Levels’.
The track is made of three basic components: planks made of oak, ash and lime, and rails and pegs made mainly of hazel and alder. The separate components were prepared on dry land and brought into the wet area. The rails (long poles) were laid end to end and secured by sharpened pegs driven slantwise into the ground on either side. The planks were then wedged into place between the peg-tops, parallel to the rails beneath, and held firmly in position by vertical pegs. The whole track, two kilometres in length, could have been assembled in a single day from the pre-shaped units.
Recent advances in the dating of wood by the study of tree-rings (dendrochronology) have enabled the construction to be placed in the years 3807/3806 BC.
The Sweet Track is located at the Peat Moors Centre which lies on the road between Shapwick and Westhay.
Sweet Track website
City of Bath & Bath Spa
Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Bath presents some of the finest architectural sights in Europe such as the Royal Crescent, the Circus and Pulteney Bridge. As a spa town, visitors have been coming to the town for hundreds of years; notable among these was Jane Austen and a Jane Austen museum is one of the attractions of the city centre. Other attractions include the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and the Thermae Bath Spa where you can book a rooftop session, taking the waters whilst overlooking the city skline. Bath also offers irresistible shopping.
https://www.cityofbath.co.uk/ (and click on Tourism option on the left)
Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve – Westhay
Located just outside Glastonbury, Shapwick Heath is a major wetland nature reserve (400ha) of the Somerset Levels and Moors. The reserve is a haven for wildlife and a monument to the history and culture of Neolithic man, who came to this area 6000 years ago and made this their tribal homeland. The once impenetrable swamplands, abundant with fish and fowl, were accessed by our ancestors on the famous ‘Sweet Track’; built in 3806BC and still preserved today. Much of the watery wilderness has been created by the restoration of old peat workings and work continues to improve the habitats for wildlife and people.
These fascinating wetlands are internationally important for wintering wildfowl and wading birds, and support at least 64 species of breeding birds including lapwing, grasshopper warbler, nightingale, water rail, garganey and upward of 60 pairs of Cetti’s warbler. Bittern are also regular visitors, but have yet to breed. With its complex ditches and waterways, the reserve supports a rich community of both land and water animals, and thriving populations of both water vole and otter.
Stanton Drew Stone Circles
This huge megalithic complex consists of three stone circles, two stone avenues, a cove of stones and an outlier. The Great Circle, the second largest English stone ring after the outer circle at Avebury, is 112m (368ft) in diameter and is composed of 27 stones. Beside it lies the North-East Ring. It is 29.6m (97ft) across and its eight massive boulders, four of which still standing, are the biggest of the entire complex. The South-West Ring, badly ruined, is on private land but is accessible.
From the two visible circles there are two avenues running eastward towards the river Chew. The avenue starting from the North-East Ring, composed of seven surviving stones, and the wrecked one extending from the Great Circle, if continued, would have merged into one. The Cove, in a straight line with the centres of the two accessible stone circles, consists of two huge upright stones with a recumbent slab lying between them. They are blocks of dolomitic breccia, while the circles’ stones are of pustular breccia and oolitic limestone. The Outlier, also known as Hautville’s Quoit, lies half a kilometer (1850ft) north-east of the circles, on a high ridge. It is a sandstone boulder, now recumbent, and it is in a straight line with the centres of the Great Circle and the South-West Ring.
Stanton Drew website
Priddy Circles & Nine Barrows
Archaeological discoveries in Priddy area date back to 35,000 years ago. It was a busy area in the Megalithic period (Bronze Age), with a reasonably dense population (judging by the burial sites on the hill above Priddy) and facilities, such as Priddy Circles, which could accommodate quite large numbers of people.
Priddy Circles are four large henges in an approximate north-south line – circular earth rings indicated by banks and depressions in the ground. The banks were made with earth, turf and stones supported by posts and stakes. No finds have been made from the time of the circles’ construction in the Beaker period of the Bronze Age, in the Megalithic period around 2500 BCE. The circles are placed at the centre of the highest area of the plateau-like Mendips, at the furthest point from lowland access in any direction.
The North Hill location of two round barrow cemeteries, Ashen Hill and Priddy Nine-Barrows which are neighbours of the Circles, would seem to imply that the area to the north-east of Priddy held ritual significance into the Bronze Age. South of the village at Deer Leap is a Bronze Age burial mound and the remains of the medieval settlement of Ramspit.
Isle of Avalon Foundation
Brent Knoll is a prominent hill, once an island, in the western Levels, noticeable from Glastonbury Tor. It has some similarities to Glastonbury: a domineering hill, an upland plateau under it, and gentle slopes down to what once were the waters and marshes of the Levels. In ancient times Brent Knoll has clearly been safe haven to a tribe for centuries, comfortably supporting 300 people. An island from which any approaching visitors can be seen miles off.
Boat contact with the Mendips, and seaward toward Brean Down and inland along river to Glastonbury, was the only way to access Brent Knoll in prehistoric and Celtic times. It has been occupied at least since the later Megalithic period or Bronze Age, with significant occupation during the Celtic period.
Isle of Avalon Foundation
Burrow Mump is one of the most distinctive features of the Somerset landscape – a natural hillock on the Isle of Athelney – which unexpectedly rises 250 feet out of the flatness of the surrounding Somerset Levels. On the top of Burrow Mump sits the picturesque ruins of St Michael’s church, which during the nineteenth century was turned into something of a folly. Nearby is Athelney and the site of the ‘King Alfred who burnt the cakes’ legend.
The location of Burrowbridge Mump on the St Michael alignment, which passes from Norfolk to the far end of Cornwall, through Avebury and Glastonbury Tor, suggests that the hill has very ancient connections, but only a little archaeological evidence from the Neolithic (late Megalithic) period have been found down the hill near the pub. On a clear day the Tor can be seen from the Mump – though the Mump cannot be seen from the Tor.
Isle of Avalon Foundation
Cadbury Castle is the best known and most interesting of the reputed sites of Camelot. A hill-fort beside South Cadbury. The summit is about 500 feet above sea-level, with a wide view of central Somerset, including the Tor at Glastonbury 12 miles away, and, in clear weather, Brent Knoll beyond.
Its defensive capability is clear – a succession of steep banks going down the hill which would have forced any attackers to climb a difficult slope and render themselves vulnerable to arrows and stones as they topped each ridge. It was the scene of a last stand of the British against the Romans, who had to lay siege for a long time before beating the inhabitants.
The first known author to refer to Cadbury as Camelot is John Leland in 1542. He says: “At the very south end of the church of South-Cadbyri standeth Camallate, sometime a famous town or castle . . .”
A well on the left of the path as you go up it is Arthur’s Well, and the highest part of the hill is Arthur’s Palace, a phrase on record as early as 1586. On Midsummer Eve, or Midsummer Night, or Christmas Eve (opinions differ, and some say it is only every seventh year), Arthur and his knights ride over the hilltop and down through the ancient gateway, and their horses drink at a spring beside Sutton Montis church. Whether or not they can be seen, their hoof beats can be heard. Below the hill are traces of an old track running towards Glastonbury, called Arthur’s Lane or Hunting Causeway, where a noise of spectral riders and hounds goes past on winter nights.
Cheddar Gorge & Caves
A major tourist attraction for over 200 years, with plenty to do above and below ground. Outstanding Natural Beauty, where you’ll find many rare species. The Cathedral-like Caves and Britain’s biggest Gorge are million-year-old Ice Age river beds. Your ancestors have lived here for 40,000 years and world-famous Cheddar Man is Britain’s oldest complete skeleton.
With new attractions, great new facilities and the classic glory of Britain’s most spectacular underground caverns, the centuries-old site near Wells in Somerset has been given a brand new lease of life.
Peat Moors Visitor Centre
A visit to the Peat Moors Centre is the perfect opportunity to fire the imagination of both young and old. Travel back in time to prehistoric Somerset and discover first hand how our ancient ancestors made their homes in the centre of an extensive wetland. Three full size reconstructions of Iron Age roundhouses have been created to give an insight into living conditions in the unique Glastonbury Lake Village.
Clarks Village has over 90 stores offering up to 60% off rrp every day with a wide choice of fashion, homeware, sportswear and gift ideas.
This is a very detailed online guide to the city of Wells and the towns, villages and countryside of the Mendip area in which glastonbury resides.