What is a Tor?

Last weekend I drove out past the Blue Mountains to the Historic Town of Hartley. Last time I was there I spotted a beautiful Granite Stone formation on the top of a hill just behind the village. I had the irresistable urge to return to this site to capture it at night with the Milky Way above it.

By definition this is called a ‘Tor’ – a large, free standing residual mass that rises abruptly from the surrounding smooth and gentle slopes of rounded hill summit or ridge crest. In the South West of England, where the term originated, it is also a word used for the hills themselves. The word Tor is notable for being one of the very few Celtic loanwords to be borrowed into vernacular English before the modern era. Similar words include crag (from the Welsh word craig, meaning “rock”) and avon (from the Welsh word afron, meaning “river”).



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