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Sad News about the Glastonbury Holy Thorn

December 9th, 2010
Wearyall Hill

Image by alwyn_ladell via Flickr

A message just received from Chalice Well:

As good people who love and support the Well and the wider landscape and mythos of Glastonbury, we have some shocking news. Last night a person or persons cut down the Holy Thorn Tree on Wearyall Hill. There is a vigil being held at the site by local people. We thought that you would like to know this in case you wanted to make your own connection with Glastonbury, the Thorn and Wearyall Hill.

UPDATE from local paper:
People of Glastonbury are in a state of shock after a Holy Thorn site was attacked last night. The crown of the iconic Holy Thorn tree on Wearyall Hill has been lopped off and dumped – leaving just… a 6ft stump protected by an iron cage. However, it appears attempts were made to remove the cage, implying the vandals wanted the entire tree. If the tree survives without its crown, it should grow a new supply of thorn.
Police officers are on site this morning (Thursday) and conducting door-to-door enquiries to find any witnesses.
The attack came hours after the annual cutting ceremony by the eldest pupil of St John’s Junior School in Glastonbury Abbey yesterday. The cutting is sent to the Queen as a festive decoration.
Police have pointed out last night’s attack was confined to Wearyall Hill.
Inspector Mark Nicholson said: “A thorough investigation is now taking place and will continue. Police are appealing to anyone who would have been in this remote area, which is popular with dog walkers, to contact the police on 0845 456 7000.”
Alternatively you can contact CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

22 Responses to “Sad News about the Glastonbury Holy Thorn”

  1. When acts of religious bigotry like this occur, one always reflects on the pointlessness of isuch actions. As if cutting down a tree would prove anything except the utter cowardice of those who did it and the falseness of their own beliefs. Their actions have cursed them as the earth witnessed their desecration and will respond.

    • I agree that it was a horrible thing to do. However, let’s not jump to the conclusion that it was an act of ‘religious bigotry’ or that it was intended as such. The most likely explanation is simple, mindless, destructive vandalism.

      Also, if you’re going to talk religion, then please don’t end it with a thinly veiled threat about ‘curses’ and retribution. That only makes you sound violent.

      That sais, I stand in utter shock and outrage at such an act of wanton destruction of a living tree. Why would anybody go out of their way to cause such harm?

  2. I wouldn’t want to suggest this was an act of religious hatred. I think it far more likely it was just evil vandalism. I hope I’m not proved wrong, but either way I am mortified and greatly saddened.

  3. Why? I mean FFS, why? I simply cannot comprehend this act. I too have the feeling that this is just mindless vandalism; sometimes people just want to screw with things because they know that others hold them sacred – there will be a great commotion and it will stir shit up. But it’s not just the symbolism that worries me. This was a tree, a living entity. We’re talking about mutilation here.

    I only hope that a cutting can be taken from the tree at the Abbey that also came from the original Thorn, and replanted on Wearyall Hill. Henry VIII couldn’t put an end to this tree. let’s not give that dubious distinction to a few anonymous vandals.

  4. So sad Philip, Please give the ~Tree roots~ a breath from me when you Awen at the Assembly this weekend. Iwish i could join you all./|x

  5. The tree isn’t lost yet, thorns can grow back – so let’s not despair yet about it’s survival, but look after it so it will grow again from the stump left. And lets remember that aggression, however tempting sometimes, is never an answer that changes things for the better. If the vandals are found, let them work with plants and trees till they see the miracle of Nature. Compensate their act so they will never do such a thing because they don’t want to anymore..

  6. I am also saddened by this wanton destruction. I am minded to say though that to respond with violent words or actions would be predictable and therefore likely desirable. The more attention people give to objects the more likely certain others will choose to make an issue of it. A bit like burning Korans in the USA, it only means something because others choose to see it like that. We are better than that so lets mourn an old friend but not get caught up in the games of others.

  7. Given that OBOD is having the Winter Assembly this weekend, I’d invite everyone to join in the strong community outrage and positivity that has come in the aftermath of the tree’s desecration. Thorns are strong, and will re-grow. They knit together and stand firm, just as we are doing.

  8. Disgusting. Religious implications aside – I am not christian – this is a historical feature of Glastonbury and something that in part brings happiness to many people when they visit! I hope that the person/persons responsible are caught and punished!

  9. There seems to be a new species of “human” being born, one with no soul, no respect for environment, spirit or the sacredness of life. This news breaks my heart and makes my blood boil 🙁

  10. I mourn the loss of this wonderful tree, which I have visited twice on pilgrimage to Glastonbury. I know that there will be a replanting of a magical thorn tree on the site. Vandals cannot destroy the spirit of this tree or the communities that the hawthorn has served over the ages.

  11. A sad commentary on what people are capable of, but when the tree grows back it will be a beautiful commentary on the power and resiliance of our natural world.

  12. Well-when I am going to pray my next rosary tonight,I will ask for good healing for the tree and protection for the future.
    I am alwas a bit sad,when at Christmas time so many wonderful grown young fir-trees have to die. Millions !
    So I use a fir tree in a pot and put it in a room with only a few degrees. When it gets too big, I let it continue to grow in the woods.

  13. The only thing keeping my outrage in check at the moment is the knowledge that if the stump cannot grow back (the present harsh weather isn’t helping), that cuttings will be able to be grown and replanted. This was truly a senseless act.

  14. I am so saddened by what I read – I visited Glastonbury, together with my son, some years back, and whilst extremely disappointed by such wanton vandalism, am not surprised. Living close to the beach in Victoria, Australia, we too have tree vandals, cutting down old trees etc, just to allow people views of the bay. Signs are posted offering rewards for tree vandals but to little avail. Recently one very old tree in our Botanical Gardens in Melbourne was ring-barked by vandals. I guess this behaviour is symtomatic of the way people have moved from nature.
    My blessings to the thorn-tree, may it grow strong and fill people with awen ….

  15. I am shocked. Until recently I lived nearby and visited often. I just can’t believe this.
    However, I do agree that the tree may grow back. I hope someone has given the roots some Rescue Remedy.

  16. Glastonbury has been desecrated more than once by the savages who attend the “festival”. Why do the authorities allow such depravity? The people who live there surely resent and deprecate the insult to their historic sites, the mass invasion and the deliberate disturbance of their peace?

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