Glastonbury

The Isle of Avalon

 

 

For millenniums pilgrims have visited Glastonbury, one of England's most religious sites, on a quest to unearth its traditional mysteries. It was considered to be the mysterious Isle of Avalon from the twelfth century, and associated with Arthurian and early Christian traditions.

 

Once an island surrounded by the brackish waters of the flooded marshland stretching from the Bristol Channel, water has always played a major role in its symbolism.

 

Several Neolithic settlements were on islands in the area, linked by wooden pathways constructed over the marshland.

 

The Romans probably had a settlement and port here, as it lies adjacent to the Roman road at Street. After the Romans left there is stories of a Celtic church being built below the Tor, however the earliest record is of a monastery built in 688 CE. The abbey subsequently burned to the ground in 1184, although further rebuilding was done on the site. The abbey could not however survive the reformation, it was finally closed in 1539 at the height of its power.

 

Always a centre of mysticism and the occult, it was here that Edward Kelly, the assistant of Dr John Dee, Elizabeth the I's occultist and adviser, claimed to have found the Philosopher's Stone in the abbey ruins.

 

During the 18th and 19th century Glastonbury gained fame as a healing spa town due to its two diverse springs. From Glastonbury's highest points, the Tor and Chalice Hill, flow two streams, one the sweet White Spring rich in calcium, and the other, the Blood Spring, a chalybeate spring rich in iron. Both these have healing properties, and are rich in sacred folklore.

 

The Tor itself, a striking landmark on the Somerset landscape, is surrounded by legend. It is said to be the entrance to the faery world. The town was visited by Jesus with his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, during tin buying excursions in the south west peninsular. So keen was Joseph on Glastonbury, he returned after the crucifixion, to thrust his staff into Wearyall Hill, where it blossomed as the Holy Thorn. The tree was cut down by Puritans during the 17th century. A bush in the grounds of the Chalice Well is thought to be a cutting, whilst another clone is apparently at a local church.

 

Another complicated story refers to the Glastonbury Zodiac, apparent from the air but very hard to imagine without aeroplanes.

 

 

Main Street

 

The Tor

 

George & Pilgrim

 

Market Cross

 

The Labyrinth

 

 

 

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