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Mapping festivals - The geography of Glastonbury

Mapping festivals

Key questions

  • How can maps at a variety of scales be used to describe the location of places?
  • What is the meaning of the terms site and situation?
  • How can maps be used to investigate and understand the site and situation characteristics of a location?

Key concepts

  • Place
  • Space
  • Scale

How can maps at a variety of scales be used to describe the location of places?

The National Curriculum for geography requires students to be able to use a variety of resources and this includes a variety of maps at different scales. When describing the location of a place, students need to be able to include information at a national, regional, local and immediate scale.

The Ordnance Survey is Great Britain's national mapping agency, providing the most up-to-date and accurate geographical maps of the country. The ‘Get-a-map service' allows an individual to search for and download maps for particular places, postcodes or grid references. The map produced is of a small area, but can be zoomed in or out to obtain different scales.

The starter activity for this lesson requires students to interpret four maps showing the location of the Glastonbury Festival, each at a different scale. Using the words in the words boxes provided, they will construct sentences to describe the geographical location of the Glastonbury Festival. The description from a national, through regional, to local and site detail should be along the lines of the following:

‘The Glastonbury festival is located in the UK, in the South West of England. It's in the County of Somerset, close to the cities of Bath and Bristol and the towns of Glastonbury and Shepton Mallet. Bristol Airport and the M5 motorway are nearby. The festival is held just outside the village of Pilton, near some rivers and close to the main roads of the A37 and A361. The festival is held in a rural area, on gently sloping farmland around Worthy Farm'. (Words in bold are the words from the word boxes on the presentation slides.)

What is the meaning of the terms site and situation?

The terms ‘site' and ‘situation' are most commonly used in geography with reference to the location of settlements - villages, towns, and cities. The meanings of the terms are as follows:

  • Site: the features and characteristics of the place or point at which the settlement (or festival) is located
  • Situation: the location of the settlement (or festival!) in relation to its surroundings - things like communications, other settlements, rivers, relief

Historically, the physical characteristics of a site and its situation would have been important factors in determining the most suitable place for a settlement. For example, the proximity of clean water would have been important for drinking, washing, cleaning and irrigation. Woodland would have been important for building materials, fire wood and food sources. Shelter and climate would have influenced the choice and flat land is easier to build on and to farm. Fertile land is also important for farming. If defence was considered important, a hill or rise in the land could act as a vantage point. More recently, human features such as communication links, proximity to other settlements (for markets, labour, amenities, etc.) have become more significant.

There are similar considerations to be made when deciding on the location for a music festival. Their locations will be influenced by the physical landscape and human features of their site and situation. Accessibility is important and sites may be chosen which are reasonably close to main transport routes and also in a place where they are accessible from main urban centres from which large populations can be tempted. However, more rural locations which are further from more densely populated areas may be more suitable for noisy crowds. Campers prefer flat ground and stages need it - a flat site or very gently sloping relief is best. Festivals are often big events (134,000 weekend tickets were sold in 2008 for Glastonbury) so large areas used for extensive agricultural grazing are often used. A more rural situation also often makes for a more scenic and attractive setting.

How can maps be used to investigate and understand the site and situation characteristics of a location?

The map extracts provided show the site and situation of the Glastonbury Festival which takes place at the end of June at Worthy Farm, just on the southern edge of the village of Pilton, in Somerset. Certain human and physical characteristics can be identified on the extracts and six figure grid references can be used to locate examples of these features. Learning how to do six figure grid references is one of the hardest skills to teach and for students to master in geography. An interactive teaching aid and quiz has been provided. All year seven pupils in England and Wales are eligible for a free map of their local area and a Map reading made easy peasy leaflet provided by the Ordnance Survey. Details of this scheme can be found on the Ordnance Survey website where you can also download a copy of the Map reading made easy peasy leaflet. The leaflet is also available in Welsh. Detailed instructions, tips and practice questions are given on all aspects of map reading.

Using the Glastonbury Festival area map extracts, the following characteristics of the site and situation can be identified; Worthy Farm itself, main roads - The A37 and A361, the gently sloping relief of the agricultural land around the farm, scenic landscape features such as Glastonbury Tor, the rurality of the area with only small settlements in the immediate vicinity - Pilton, East and West Compton, West Pennard, Pylle, etc. More able students may also know of features not on the map extract itself, for example the M5 motorway not far to the West, the large urban areas of Bristol and Bath to the north and Bristol airport.





Where does the Glastonbury Festival take place?

Watch the intro to Glastonbury slide show. It shows a series of maps at different scales.

Write a sentence to go with each map to describe the location of the Glastonbury Festival.

You can use the mapwork key terms to help you throughout this lesson and the rest of the unit.

Throughout this unit you will also need to know how to use four figure and six figure grid references. The grid references interactive activity will show you how, or help you to brush up your skills if you're a little bit rusty.



The site and situation of the Glastonbury Festival

This activity is in two parts.

The first activity is the card sorting task. In this activity, you are given a set of site and situation factors. These describe some of the factors that might be important when choosing the location for a music festival.

  • Cut out the site and situation factors
  • Cut out the set of explanations that are also given on the page, that explain why each of the factors might be important
  • Now match the factors to their explanations

Which of the factors do you think might have been important when choosing the site for Glastonbury?

You will find out if you are right in the next activity.

For the second activity, study the maps of the Glastonbury Festival site.

Can you work out which of the site and situation factors from the last activity apply to this site?

Complete the table to summarise your findings.



Using your table from the main activity, share your thoughts and ideas about site and situation of the Glastonbury Festival with the rest of the class.

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