What’s the s-TOR-y? A scene from Watchers appears in the Olympics Opening Ceremony!

One of the key scenes of the rural England centerpiece of Danny Boyle’s 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony is said to be that of Glastonbury Tor with a tree emerging where the iconic tower now stands.

Glastonbury Tor is a well-known landmark of the British countryside, a place of pilgrimage for hundreds of years. But the Tor is famous not just for the hill itself, but for the striking silhouette of St. Michael’s Tower on its peak. This is the image that everyone is familiar with. The Olympic Opening Ceremony, however, apparently will feature the Tor with the tower replaced by a fully-grown tree: an image that has never been seen before, or has it?

Actually, a magical tree emerging on Glastonbury Tor is exactly the key closing scene of the 2011 young adult fantasy novel Watchers by Essi Tolling.

According to this report in the Daily Mail:

The set will include a recreation of the Glastonbury Thor [sic] and an enormous fake tree, which will appear in the first scene, entitled ‘green and pleasant land’

Illustration from Watchers – Glastonbury Tor by Meraylah Allwood

In addition, the book opens with London in the grip of an emergency evacuation brought on by a fake flood warning made believable by heavy downpours coming from man-made rain clouds!

Also according to the Daily Mail: “Boyle, who directed the multi-Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, said the aim of the ceremony was to create ‘a picture of ourselves as a nation’, and to ensure it is authentic there will even be giant fake clouds which will pour with rain.”  Read more

Like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, Watchers blends fact with fiction and uncovers dark secrets and hidden histories that have huge contemporary relevance. The magical history of the British countryside features prominently in the story.

Without giving too much away for those of you who have not yet read the book, here is the paragraph that describes the event:

“Up thrust the tree in a mass of flickering silver and grey. At first its slender trunk grew inside the walls of the tower, but as it got taller its branches pushed outwards, cracking the tower to pieces. The top stones fell first, cascading away down the Tor. Then the rest gave way until even the foundation stones, deep-set and strong, fractured and crumbled to dust.

“In an instant the tower had gone and there in its place stood a majestic tree.” (Watchers p. 528)

Tolling would not be drawn further on the significance of the tree’s appearance on the famous landmark. “I don’t want to spoil the surprise for the thousands of readers who are buying the book, but it’s fair to say that the scene where a tree grows on the Tor is pivotal to the plot, not just for book one but for the whole series.”

Maybe Danny Boyle or someone working with him read Watchers and was inspired by elements of the story or perhaps it’s just a case of wonderful synchronicity. In either case we are delighted, as it affirms that the great response we are getting from readers may be in part because the book is capturing a new and emerging zeitgeist; one which is leaning towards beauty, nature and the desire for unity in the face of world policies that seem hell bent on destruction, control and decay.

Essi Tolling comments: “To say it is Glastonbury Tor and then replace the tower with a tree is interesting to say the least.  Why not use just a regular hill and tree surrounded by England’s green and pleasant fields? Maybe Danny Boyle is tapping in to a deeper mystery; the same mystery that inspired me to take up the pen in an effort to expose hidden truths? I would be fascinated to find out!”

Watchers, the first book in the Tilly Greenway and the Secrets of the Ancient Keys series, was published in 2011 and is available in most Waterstone’s bookstores and from amazon, as well as from several outlets in Glastonbury and Avebury. Book two The Hidden Hand will be released in spring 2013.