On Brentor

The South West of England possesses three dramatic tors, each topped by a church or the ruins of a church. Glastonbury Tor is the most famous, and justly so, followed by its near neighbour Burrow Mump, also in Somerset: you can see the one from the other. The third lies much further to south and west in Devon, and, situated right on the edge of Dartmoor, is the least visited of the three. It is called Brentor.

Clamber up to the rocky summit and you're rewarded with dramatic views of the moor (and, when we went, the rising moon).

Oddly for a working church, the porch is covered in graffiti, some of it quite old.

The church is dedicated to St Michael, as were the ruins at Glastonbury and Burrow Mump, and as so many high places have shrines dedicated to the saint, some have speculated that this was a concerted effort by the Church to put a stop to lingering pagan practices (St Michael famously stands triumphant over Satan).

The fact that you can draw a straight line between Glastonbury Tor, Burrow Mump and Brentor, and, moreover, one that points in the direction of the May Day sunrise, struck the writer John Michell as more than coincidental. As I've blogged about before, he posited that here was a major ley-line, a piece of pre-Christian technology if you will, that directed earth energy up country towards a harmonious end. 

Whatever the metaphors we choose to describe it, I think high places like Brentor have always been regarded as holy, long before there were either Christians or ley-hunters. Just as we can't help but let our minds reach out with wonder to the horizon, so some part of us, a part that longs to touch that which lies beyond, relaxes and unwinds.

Craggy, desolate, a little bit haunted, Brentor remains a numinous place.


  1. I think you are right, for a short while we are allowed to sit with the Gods;



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