About 2000 years ago the territory of the modern Somerset County was flooded by the sea and was heavily marshy. Because of this, its hills peeked out to the surface like lonely islands. This circumstance has given rise to many legends, and the most famous of them is the legend of the island of Avalon. If there’s one place in England that’s been sacred to various events over the millennia, it’s undoubtedly Glastonbury.
According to tradition, it was here in Glastonbury that the Isle of Avalon – from the Welsh Yns Avallach, “the Isle of Apples,” the afterlife of the Celts – was located. According to beliefs, this mysterious island was the birthplace of holy men, fairy creatures, spirits of nature, and magicians, among them the wizard Merlin, the fairy Morgana, and the river fairy Melusina. The English do believe in fairies, elves, and magical creatures. You can hear tales of them in England, Wales, and Scotland.
Archaeologists have unearthed traces of the earliest Celtic settlement here. The hill is flanked by a spiral shaped pilgrim trail, dating back to the 3rd century BC. – Another mystery of the Celts. The path leads to the top of the hill (Glastonbury Tor) which rises above Glastonbury and is called St Michael’s Hill. There was a small fortress here in the 5th century. It’s thought that King Arthur was buried here, on St Michael’s Hill.
On the top now stand the ruins of a tower left over from the church of St Michael that once stood there.
This church was the very first Christian church in all of Britain. The exact year of its construction is unknown. But scholars suggest that the church on this hill dates no earlier than the 2nd century. The church was destroyed in the reign of Henry VIII.
At the foot of the hill are the ruins of the Benedictine monastery of St Mary – Glastonbury Abbey.
According to tradition, the foundation of Glastonbury Abbey is connected with Joseph of Arimathea, a contemporary of Jesus Christ.
Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple of Jesus Christ and an uncle of Mary his mother, and the Gospel of Peter reports that he was also a personal friend of Pontius Pilate. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest religious institution in ancient Judea, but he did not participate in the meeting against Jesus Christ. It was Joseph who asked Pilate for the body of the executed Jesus and, having received permission to take Him down from the cross, he buried Him in a tomb carved in the rock, which was his own. Together with another disciple of Jesus, Nicodemus, Joseph wrapped a shroud around Jesus’ body.
Later, St. Joseph, along with Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, went as missionaries to Gaul, after which the others remained on the continent, while Joseph went to preach the word of God in Britain. And it was here, at the foot of the hill of Avalon, that Joseph of Arimathea stuck his staff into the ground, and out of that staff grew a thorn tree.
It was this fact that laid the foundation of Glastonbury’s worldwide fame – for centuries it became the English Jerusalem, one of the holiest places on earth.
Crowds of pilgrims streamed in from all over the world, each hoping to break off a sprig of holy thorns to be placed with him in his grave. Many saints sought final refuge at Glastonbury.
Many times over the centuries that followed, the tree was tried to be destroyed, just for fun. The last time was in 2010, when the 2,000-year-old tree was mutilated by vandals. Many people came here, tied ribbons around the tree and cried over the lost shrine.
But the miracle happened again! The tree sprouted again, as if giving us another chance to live a righteous life. Behind the ruined abbey at the foot of Thor thunders a mineral spring that was once considered one of the wonders of the world. Its waters, strongly saturated with iron, stain the ground and everything they touch with a rusty red color. Medieval pilgrims came to this place. In awe, with tears in their eyes, they knelt, just as the pilgrims did in Jerusalem.
Here, in an English meadow, Joseph of Arimathea built the first church in England out of willow branches, and on its site a monastery later grew up. In the twelfth century the monastery burned with all its relics. The style of the monastery refers to the Norman style.
The chapel of the Virgin Mary .
A preserved fragment of the cathedral floor.
The site of the main altar.
Glastonbury-tor can be seen in the distance.
One need only look at this model to imagine what the place looked like in its heyday.
But it’s not just the mysteries of the Celts and stories of the saints that intrigue this place. Closely related to Glastonbury is the story of King Arthur. The memory of Arthur, a hero and national leader, has lived on in the hearts of the English, Welsh and Scots for centuries.
It happened during the reign of Henry II (XII century). Many English kings tried to conquer Wales, but finally Edward I succeeded. The Welsh believed that Arthur, safe and sound, would return from Avalon and lead the Welsh to victory over the English, just as he had led his predecessors to war with the Saxons. The Welsh believed so strongly in this that Henry II saw it as his duty to destroy the legend and then proceed to conquer Wales. So in 1189, the helpful monks at Glastonbury unexpectedly found the bones of King Arthur and his wife Guinevere among the tombs in their monastery! The king himself heard of it, allegedly from a wandering singer.
We are left to wonder whether this tomb and the bodies found are a hoax or not. The Abbey’s archives contain a detailed report on the inspection of the bodies of the deceased. The skeleton of the man was staggeringly tall at 2 m 25 cm. His skull was damaged, but the cause of the injury could not be determined, although it could be a trace of a wound. The woman had perfectly preserved blond hair on her head. Girald of Cambria, who lived at the time, quotes the inscription on the tomb: “Hic jacet sepultus inclytus rex Arthurius, in insula Avallonia, cum Wennevereia uxore sua secunda” – “Here lies King Arthur of Avallon with Guinevere, his second wife”.
In 1278 King Edward I visited Arthur’s tomb with his wife. Given his campaign to capture (and finally conquer) Wales, his motives were similar to those of Henry II, namely an open statement of fact – King Arthur is dead and will not come to anyone’s rescue.
But the Welsh, and it seems they are not the only ones, are not impressed by this discovery. They still continue to believe that their hero is waiting for a reason to return.
The story of Arthur and Guinevere’s grave and of Glastonbury Abbey itself began under one Henry and ended under another. In view of his inability to obtain a divorce from his wife, Catherine of Aragon, King Henry XVIII announced the separation of the Church of England from Rome, and himself became its head. The age of the Reformation was upon us.
The monasteries were their own masters, dependent on almost no one and providing for themselves. They owned lands inherited by wills, grants, sheep, beehives, and fish in the rivers.
In addition, they received generous donations, as well as taxes from the receipt of inheritance by the inhabitants of the settlements belonging to the monastery. At one time Glastonbury Abbey was one of the richest monasteries in England. No wonder the greedy King Henry XVIII, reveling in his power, decided to lay his hands on the monastery’s wealth.
Commissions were sent to every monastery and parish in England to seize anything of value. In addition, churchmen (monks, abbots, abbesses, etc.) had to swear allegiance to King Henry XVIII and his wife, Queen Anne (nee Boleyn). Those who tried to remain loyal to the Catholic Church were accused of heresy, tortured and executed. Glastonbury was not spared this fate. The monastery was destroyed and the innocent Abbot Richard Whiting was hanged and quartered. Along with the abbot, several monks were also executed.
Subsequently, the monastery building was dismantled by the people of the surrounding villages for their own use, to build houses and to pave roads.
Arthur’s tomb was destroyed along with the abbey, and Arthur and Guinevere’s bones were lost. With the exception of the remarkable abbey kitchen (1303-1342, dating also to 1440) and the stone barn (also 14th century), the whole monastery complex is now in ruins, but remains the property of the Church of England.
The monastery kitchen.
Along with the story of Joseph of Arimathea and King Arthur, Glastonbury is associated with the place where Joseph of Arimathea hid the Holy Grail. In 1906, the Glastonbury Chalice was discovered here . The cup was found by two sisters, Christina and Janet Allen, before being claimed by Katherine (“Kitty”) Tudor-Pole. The mysterious blue-glass vessel lay under water by a blackthorn tree studded with scraps and ribbons. It was cleaned and taken to Clifton, Bristol, where a chapel with candles, white drapery and an altar was erected. Christina, Janet, and Kitty became a triad of “Grail Virgins.
The grounds of the former monastery, along with the thought-provoking ruins, include expansive sun-drenched meadows, ponds full of huge fish, orchards, and fruit trees.
It’s real, good old-fashioned, rural England.
People come here just to sit, sleep, read.
There’s even a small patch of fenced land that is normally inhabited by badgers.
At the beginning of the film “The Lord of the Rings” the following words are spoken: “And much has been forgotten, which should not have been forgotten…”. Nothing is ever forgotten in Britain. “… History has become legend, legend has become myth.” And all the legends of Glastonbury have a real story at their core. And that, mysterious, sacred power that the ancient Celts felt still lives around Glastonbury Tor. And I felt it.
At first I looked only at the dog. It was a gorgeous, fluffy sheepdog with a loyal expression on its clever face.
Then my attention was drawn to its owner. He was sitting in the shade of the scattered branches of a huge tree, reading a book on his laptop, absent-mindedly stroking the dog with one hand. I stood in front of them, unable to tear my eyes away-something was pulling me toward the serene couple. Finally the man looked up at me. There was not an ounce of surprise on his face, nor a wary dislike (which would be inapplicable in Russia), but only a cheerful curiosity. He smiled at me with a disposing, polite smile, and was the first to start the conversation.
– Beautiful place, isn’t it? I couldn’t agree more. I timidly asked him the name and breed of his dog. He said it was a Belgian shepherd and his name was Julio. There was a magnetic, luminous force radiating from the stranger. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them, glancing from one dog to the other in fascination. I had the feeling that I could spend the rest of my life with them, talking about anything, that I could sit at his feet and listen to his every word, or just listen to the silence. Reluctantly, through sheer force, I was forced to leave them and kept turning around to see them again. The man waved to me.
Glastonbury Tor is the “place of power” – the boundary between the worlds.
Glastonbury is a reality that gives the imagination something to fantasize about and the mind food for thought. It is in Somerset that you can see Britain’s most amazing landmark – Glastonbury Tor, or as it is called, St. Michael’s Hill.
You won’t find a more mystical place to visit in England, as there are so many legends and tales associated with this mysterious hill. Some call it the fairy kingdom, others the Avalon, a wonderful place between the worlds where there is neither disease nor misery.
In ancient Celtic legends mentioned a large underground kingdom, which was located under this hill. Modern fans of mysticism and abnormal phenomena consider Glastonbury Hill a portal to the otherworldly worlds.
Regarding Glastonbury Thor and in fact a lot of questions. Located at a height of 15 8 meters above the ground, it is surrounded by seven circular ledges, and still no one knows exactly how they were formed. In ancient times, there were frequent floods, during which the hill was the only island inaccessible to water. To this day, locals believe that its spiral-shaped slopes are a mystical labyrinth.
Excavations of burial mounds in the vicinity of Glastonbury in 1892 established that significant population crowding had occurred before the arrival of the Romans, from about 60 BC onwards.
In the XI – XII centuries on the top of the hill a church was built, which was destroyed in 1275 by an earthquake. After that the church was rebuilt and existed until 1539. As a result of the church reform of Henry VIII Tudor, the church was destroyed and the last Abbot of Glastonbury was executed.
The legend of King Arthur is associated with this church. In 1190 the monks of Glastonbury Abbey announced the discovery of the sarcophagi of King Arthur and his wife Guinevere. Since then the Grail has been inextricably linked with Glastonbury.
England, which at the time owned part of what is now France, supported Arthurian legends that the Grail was located in the British Isles – in Glastonbury Abbey, where Joseph of Arimathea supposedly brought the cup.
In medieval literature, it is said that Joseph of Arimathea ended his life in Glastonbury and that he brought the Holy Grail there.
Glastonbury (glass) is a land of Celts, Druids, and legends …
According to one of the local legends, the first people to come to the helm Tor, braided with spiral lines, were the A tlantes. A land with a conical pyramid and healing waters… a narrow ridge from which frozen green waves spread out… – “a place of power”…
English mysticism is said to begin in Glastonbury. This city can be rightly considered the alchemical capital. It mixes different cults and religions.
It was here that the English writer and occultist Dion Fortune allegedly first came into contact through a conscious dream with the secret Teachers, whose existence was acknowledged, but with whom no one had previously been in contact.
After this extremely inspiring contact, she purchased a manor house in Glastonbury, calling it “The Garden of the Bowl. Here she wrote her book, The Mystical Kabbalah.
On the road from Glastonbury Abbey to the famous Thor Hill, you can get to a magical place, the “Well of the Cup”. According to legends, this place is associated with the Holy Grail. The well itself was built of huge stone blocks by the Druids. In ancient times Celtic priests foretold the fate, looking into the mirror of the well of the Chalice.
Every day about 9,500 liters of water pour out of the reservoir. Filtered and charged with various substances, the water comes to the surface in two places not far from each other. Thor Hill is the source of these two waters, “red and white.” “The red stream” stains the walls of the well red, carrying iron oxide . The “white stream” has a calcium flavor.
According to legend, the source of the “Red Water” is the possible burial place of the Grail Cup. The temperature of the water here is always 11 degrees and has a therapeutic effect.
On the hatch of the well are marked two crossed circles – the symbol of a fish . This inscription has the same meaning as the Yin-Yang, and “Flower of Life”.
In sacred geometry there is a structure called “vesica piscis” (fish bubble). It is formed when the centers of two circles with equal radii are located on the circles of each other. The area bounded by the intersecting arcs of the circles is “vesica piscis”. “The Flower of Life, the geometry of which encapsulates the image of creation, is nothing other than “vesica piscis”.
Mystics see in the mixing of red and white water absolute harmony – two energies – male and female.
As for Glastonbury alchemy, the works of the English magician and alchemist John Dee have survived. He compiled a treatise on the properties of the two coloured powders that are extracted at Glastonbury , and allegedly extracted red and white powders that create gold . Legend has it that during the Hundred Years’ War, English alchemists produced dozens of tons of gold from a similar composition.
Today, St. Michael’s Hill is adorned by a lonely ancient tower, which looks mystical on the hill. The rays of the setting sun, shining through the stone arches, give the tower a mysterious and enigmatic appearance.
Glastonbury … in this marshy and hilly area, a world of magical antiquity comes to life, reminiscent of the days of ancient legend and lore.