An island made of glass – such a name was carried by Glastonbury in Celtic mythology at a time when it was surrounded on almost all sides by water. The remains of neighboring coastal settlements of the Iron Age period confirm that this part of the county of Somerset lay under water and reached Glastonbury by boat.
The Celts believed in the existence of the afterlife and believed that their saints and heroes after death go to the idyllic island of Avalon. Therefore, when the 12th century historian Jeffrey of Monmouth wrote his History of the Kings of Britain, he got the idea to put the Celtic hero King Arthur there. At Jeffrey, the mortally wounded Arthur was taken to Avalon, where his sister, the fairy Morgan, promised to heal the king if he stayed with her forever.
Moreover, the legend of Arthur claimed that one day he would return to free the Welsh from the yoke of the English sovereigns – after all, had he not once been king, why not become him in the future? The chronicler William of Malmesbury, like many other early interpreters of the legend, wrote in 1125 that Arthur’s grave “is nowhere to be found, and ancient ballads tell tales of his return.” In the 12th century, English kings repeatedly faced resistance from the Welsh, who continued to believe that that Arthur will return from Avalon and drive away the oppressors. King Henry II of the Plantagenet dynasty decided that it would be wise to find the tomb of Arthur and clearly prove to the Welsh that their hero was dead, and thereby dispel the hope of his return once and for all. Heinrich was informed that Arthur might have been buried in Glastonbury, and he commissioned the abbot of the local monastery to begin his search for the grave.
The Glastonbury Monastery was founded in 705, and in the 10th century passed to the Benedictine Order. In 1184, the abbey burned down and Henry II began to rebuild it. But in 1189 the king died, and soon after that the monks set about searching for the remains of King Arthur, hoping in this way to get out of financial difficulties and bring fame and fortune to the monastery.
The search results exceeded all expectations for those who sought to connect the legend with reality. The work was carried out without too much publicity, until finally, at a depth of 2 m, what the monks were looking for was finally discovered – a stone slab and a lead cross with Latin inscription: “Hie jacet sepultus inclitus rex Arturius in insula Avalonia” (“Here, on the island of Avalon, lies the glorified King Arthur “). Even deeper was the oak deck, hollowed out in the shape of a coffin, and inside two skeletons – one large, with traces of a heavy blow on the skull, and the second smaller, with a lock of blond hair. Of course, it was difficult not to recognize in them the remains of King Arthur and his wife Ginevra …
In 1287, while suppressing the Welsh uprising, King Edward I ordered that Arthur’s bones be removed and put on public display as evidence of the irrevocable death of the legendary hero. After that, the remains were buried in a tomb in front of the main altar of the monastery church. There they remained until the monastery was closed in 1539. Of course, there is a temptation to assume that the whole story with the discovery of Arthur’s ashes was rigged by the abbot to raise funds for the restoration of the Glastonbury monastery. However, a number of archaeological finds testify in favor of its authenticity. In 1934, on the site of the main altar, the remains of the second empty tomb were discovered, and now there is a memorial plaque. A second excavation, led by Rali Redford in 1962, uncovered the original grave and confirmed that once there was a depression, but no traces of the remains were found. This place is located about 15 m from the southern entrance to the chapel of the Church of the Blessed Virgin.
The lead cross discovered by the monks on the grave also raises many doubts. There are several different options for inscriptions on the cross, which disappeared more than 200 years ago. According to the first descriptions, not only Arthur but also Ginevre was mentioned in the inscription on the cross, however, her name is missing in the image of the cross in the historical work of William Camden “Britain”, published in 1607.
At one time it was believed that the cross was made by monks in 1190, but this is hard to believe. Firstly, the primitive graphic nature of the inscription indicates its earlier origin, and the Latin version of the name Arthur (“Arturius”) was already out of use at that time and is found in only one document of the 7th century. So if it was a fake, it was extremely carefully and skillfully executed. The fate of the cross is also surrounded by mystery. It is known that he was kept in the monastery until its closure, and 200 years ago it was owned by one of the clergy of Wells Cathedral. If the cross is eventually discovered, it will surely mark the beginning of a new series of disputes about King Arthur.
Glastonbury has always been surrounded by myths and legends. In pre-Christian times, pagan rituals were performed on the rocky top of Glastonbury Hill, and excavations revealed traces of Christian buildings that existed before the appearance of the monastery in 705. It is believed that the first preacher of the Gospel and the founder of the ancient Christian church in England was Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy and noble member of the Sanhedrin and secret student of Christ, who, having asked Pilate for permission, removed the Master from the cross, wrapped Him in a shroud and buried Him with honors in his own tomb . According to legend, Joseph’s staff took root and turned into the Glastonbury hawthorn, which still blooms for Christmas and Easter.
One of the oldest cities in England, located in a hilly area in the territory of the county of Somersetshire, at the foot of the 159-meter hill of St. Michael. As excavations of mounds in the vicinity of Glastonbury were established in 1892, a significant population accumulation was observed in these places even before the arrival of the Romans, from about 60 BC. e. The population of 8800 inhabitants.
In the Middle Ages, the welfare of Glastonbury was based on the glory of Glastonbury Abbey, the oldest in England. The church legend connects its foundation with the name of the legendary King Lucius, who, in a burst of piety, allegedly invited prelates from Rome to Glastonbury in 166. The first stone church of the abbey was erected in 712. Three Anglo-Saxon kings were buried in the monastery, although pilgrims were more attracted to the alleged tomb of St. Patrick.
In 1184, the abbey burned down, and restoration work took almost three centuries. During the first fundraising for construction (1191), the monks added fame to their monastery, announcing the discovery of sarcophagi with the names of King Arthur and his wife Guinevere.
In medieval literature, stories were circulated that it was in Glastonbury that Joseph of Arimathea ended his life and that he brought the Holy Grail here. Thanks to these beliefs, the flow of believers never stopped in the seedy town; the text of the hymn “Jerusalem” is based on them.
During the English Reformation, many Benedictines living in Glastonbury Abbey were persecuted by the British authorities, among them the monk Arthur, who for his martyrdom was ranked among the saints by the Roman Catholic Church. After the dissolution of the English monasteries by Henry VIII (1536–39), the medieval structures of the abbey were demolished into rubble for paving roads. The disappearance of the abbey undermined the national significance of the city. The glories of ancient Glastonbury are reminiscent of their meager ruins.
Glastonbury Abbey was once the largest Benedictine monastery in England (St. Mary’s Benedictine monastery) and by 1086 the abbey became a holy place and a favorite pilgrimage center.
During the reign of Henry VIII, it was destroyed due to a divergence of opinion on matters of faith between the monks of the abbey and the Catholic Church. The mighty walls turned into ruins, and no trace of the former splendor was left ….
According to some reports, Glastonbury Abbey should have existed during the life of Jesus Christ.
There is a legend that Jesus Christ as a teenager visited this place with his relative Joseph of Arimathea.
One of the earliest historians of Britain, Gildas, who probably lived in the 6th century, says that Jesus visited Glasgonbury for the purpose of meditation, and this was in the last years of the reign of the emperor Tiberius, that is, no later than 27 A.D.
The book of the Burgundian poet Robert de Boron, Joseph of Arimathea, connects this city with the Holy Grail – the cup from which Jesus drank during the Last Supper and into which Joseph collected his blood after the crucifixion.
The risen Christ commanded that Joseph or his descendants carry the cup to the heavenly lands of Avalon, now identified with Glastonbury Abbey in England.
The British believe that the Grail was brought here by Joseph of Arimathea himself.
The search for the Holy Grail has become one of the main legends of the Arthurian cycle. Thomas Malory in the book “The Death of Arthur” describes a miraculous occurrence to the knights of the Round Table and to the king of the maiden carrying this cup, with the dishes that he wants appear before each knight.
Another mystery of the ancient abbey is Glastonbury Blackthorn, which blooms twice a year – at Christmas and in May. According to legend, he grew up from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea himself.
Glastonbury Hill or another name – St. Michael’s Hill (or Glastonbury Tor) is located near the eponymous ancient city (Glastonbury, Somerset, southern England) and is a huge volcanic rock – a natural elevation of more than 150 m in height, having a configuration in the form of seven man-made ledges.
It is believed that once the sea “washed” the foot of the rocky peak of Glastonbury, and in antiquity – during frequent floods, the hill that dominates the surrounding marshland, which was not drained until the 16th century, turned into an inaccessible island.
The history of this mysterious place, about which there are many myths and legends, has its roots in ancient times. And today there is an established opinion that the Celts – these primitives of these places, considered Glastonbury Hill the gates of the afterlife. To do this, they allegedly built a round-shaped temple on its top of the hill. The circle is one of the symbols of the pagan Mother Goddess, and therefore in modern literature the opinion has been established that the temple was dedicated to this Great Goddess, who bestows fertility and prosperity.
A spiral path led to this temple, laid, as it is estimated today, 2500 years ago. Moreover, local residents tend to interpret its shape as an ancient Celtic labyrinth. It is believed that the winding road that personifies the Earth snake, inherent in the pristine harmony and power, which can cause people who are particularly sensitive to energy influences, a condition similar to trance. It is this state, in which, the druids could find the gate to the afterlife.
Archaeological excavations have confirmed that in the III century BC. e. there really was a Celtic settlement, and in the 5th century n e. – a small fortress.
From the top of the hill you can observe the surrounding landscape for 70-80 km around. There is only a lonely tower, blown by all the winds, and that’s all that remains of what was once on top of the church. It is generally believed that this church, dedicated to the holy archangel Michael and called in legends the first Christian church in Britain, was built in 166 by missionaries who arrived from Rome. The church was not isolated, it was part of the monastery – Glastonbury Abbey.
The abbey itself was founded not far from the hill by the Saxon king Aine in 705, and since the 10th century it has become not only the largest Benedictine monastery in England and a holy place, but also a favorite pilgrimage center. But already in the XVI century, during the reign of Henry VIII, most church buildings were destroyed due to differences of opinion on matters of faith between the monks of the abbey and the Catholic Church. The once mighty walls, the remains of which we see today, turned into ruins, and from the former splendor there was no trace …
But that’s not all … The British are generally good at revealing legendary places on their islands: they claim that the famous King Arthur and his unfaithful wife Guinevere are buried at the foot of Glastonbury Hill, and they will immediately tell any tourist the most true legend of tragic love that accompanied this couple. They will also tell about the terrible fire that occurred in 1184, which then destroyed the abbey almost to the ground. But there is a silver lining: during the reconstruction, the monks began a large-scale search for the tomb of Arthur. And in 1190 she was found! Thoroughly tapping the stone slabs of the floor, the Benedictines discovered at an even depth of three meters – below the modern masonry – an even older one with a hollow chamber. Having opened the floor, the monks made their way to the legendary tomb. Two huge coffins, impregnated with wood-preserving resins, appeared to their gazed eyes!
Geomancy experts claim that Glastonbury is a concentration of colossal energies, and the peak on which the ruins of St. Michael’s tower are located is generally a mystical place with a special atmosphere. Probably not a single city has as many legends as the mysterious Glastonbury. He is considered both one of the sacred centers that generate and transmit cosmic energies, and an interplanetary lighthouse, and a source of magical energy that illuminates everyone who touches his secrets with “the light of quiet involvement and sincere love.”
According to ancient legend, Glastonbury Hill along with Mount St. Michael in Cornwall, Stonehenge and Avebury is located not only on the Great Ley Line (a powerful stream of geomagnetic energy) of England, but also on a force line in the form of a horizontal figure eight, which stretches around the entire planet as a symbol infinity.
In general, the rock in Glastonbury is a very strange place, even from the point of view of modern science. Very often, locals witness an extraordinary spectacle that occurs at night. Suddenly, pale bluish lights appear in the air, which rush for hours around church ruins. Some attribute their appearance to ufological factors (UFOs), others ascribe to the magnetic energy of rock.
The first modern scientific research at Glastonbury began in 1907. The historical and archaeological expedition was led by the English scientist Frederick B. Bond. Its employees achieved significant success – they discovered the remains of an unknown chapel. Having checked her geographical position with the general plan of the abbey, Bond came to the conclusion that it was built according to the laws of sacred geometry, used by the ancient Egyptians, and later Masons. However, the venerable researcher had the imprudence to publicly declare that he received all the instructions for the search for antiquities with the help of mediums, communicating with the souls of deceased monks.
For classical science, this original way of obtaining truth turned out to be unacceptably wild, a major scandal erupted, and Bond was fired. Only many years later, the results of his research were rethought in the light of new scientific data. As it turned out, Frederick Bond showed in his report (although not having direct evidence) the energy connection between Glastonbury and Stonehenge. The so-called ley line connects the two above places, passing parallel to the ancient road. This mystical route is popularly called Tod Line – literally “dead line”, or “the path of dead people.” In English folklore, the name Tod Line designates the path of spirits along which the dead follow the afterlife.
Glastonbury spiral. I suspect that the following story is somewhat far-fetched, but nonetheless … In 1944, Irish businessman Jeffrey Russell had an unusually vivid dream. Waking up, he immediately transferred the image to the paper, still standing before his eyes. It was a spiral symbol consisting of one line twisted in seven turns. A little puzzled, Russell hid the drawing and for a long time hardly remembered it.
Eighteen years later, in one of the magazines, he saw a photograph of a stone carving recently discovered in the vicinity of Tintagel, the famous castle of the times of King Arthur in Cornwall, in which, to his amazement, he recognized in the drawing an image from a long dream – what he painted, in fact, it was an archetype of the ancient idea of the labyrinth. Soon, he again saw this symbol on an antique coin from the island of Crete. There, according to ancient Greek legend, there once existed a giant labyrinth where the Minotaur lived.
During a trip to Glastonbury, he recognized here, in the configuration of the famous local hill, the very spiral shape with seven turns that had haunted him for many years in dreams and in reality. According to his theory, the entire Glastonbury Hill was turned into a huge three-dimensional labyrinth in prehistoric times.
Russell immediately set about experimentally validating his theory. Having made a series of sandy models of Thor Hill to illustrate its connection with the classical form of the labyrinth, he performed aerial photography of the area, which made it possible to accurately map the contours of the hill. The results of the study seemed to confirm his initial hunch about the spiral form of Glastonbury Hill.
Subsequently, Russell’s case was continued by Jeffrey Ashe, who, being interested in the theory of the spiral labyrinth, remarked that Russell “… never tried to prove his arguments by the most elementary method” – that is, a walk along the alleged spiral path. Ash himself conducted this experiment in the summer of 1979; succeeding in achieving the goal, he published the results of his discoveries in the same year.
The route he was following begins at the lowest (southwest) end of the Tor hill – the most convenient place to start climbing. At the beginning of the ascent, the route is marked by a large boulder, which, according to Ash, is a special sign indicating the entrance. Further, the path winds back and forth along a series of curves and, finally, leads to the center of the labyrinth, the top of Tor hill. There is no clear direction on one or two sections of the route, but in Ashe’s defense it can be said that these places were eroded or masked by later human activity. The seven-turn spiral proposed by Russell and detailed on a map by Jeffrey Ash certainly exists.
The possibility that Thor Hill has been turned into a huge maze raises a number of important questions for modern scientists. Since no historical records of such a grand undertaking have been preserved, Russell and Ash have come to the conclusion that the labyrinth in Glastonbury is a prehistoric structure. Enormous efforts were needed for its construction, possibly comparable to the construction of another great prehistoric monument – Stonehenge.
In general, Ash managed to prove that the structure of the terraces around the Tor hill really resembles a labyrinth with seven spiral turns. But, according to Ash himself, this does not mean that the entire hill was created for some ritual purpose. Only archaeologists can prove or disprove this assumption.
In the 1960s, exploration of Glastonbury Hill was continued by Philip Ratz of the University of Birmingham (the work was funded by a foundation founded by Russell). And this work was not without difficulties, and excavations here were very limited, partly due to extremely adverse weather conditions. Besides the fact that the equipment had to be carried up and down the steep hillsides every day, the members of the Ratz team suffered from a piercing wind on rainy days, and on clear days it was “hot as in a stove” above. Researchers have discovered objects of the Roman era, the Dark Ages (IV – IX centuries A.D.) and the Middle Ages, which are of significant interest. It turned out to be more difficult to identify traces of human activity in an earlier period. Medieval construction work, intense erosion, exacerbated by the effects of small earthquakes, was thought to have destroyed most of the prehistoric artifacts.
However, Ratz and his team managed to prove that Thor Hill was famous and visited during the Stone Age. Among the finds made by archaeologists were processed flints dated to the Paleolithic and Neolithic (10 000-2000 BC), as well as a polished ax from a greenish Neolithic stone.
Ratz did not excavate the terraces of the hill, although he was tempted. Such “unscientific” constructions as Russell’s theory are usually immediately noticed by archaeologists, but in the case of the spiral labyrinth in Glastonbury the situation was different. Based on the analysis of the surface elements of the Glastonbury Hill, Ratz concluded that Russell’s theory deserves serious attention. He believed that the spiral could be built only in the Neolithic or Bronze Age (4000–2000 BC). The engineering skills of the builders of that time are more than obvious by the example of the impressive excavation work needed to build the artificial Silbery Hill mound.
The arguments in favor of the theory of the maze are certainly attractive, and the arguments against are unconvincing. Geologists believe that terraces were formed in the process of erosion. On the other hand, Ronald Hatton, a professor of history at the University of Bristol, states: “For archaeologists, hillside terraces look like a completely conventional farming system in a hilly area, characteristic of both the Iron Age and the Middle Ages.” But both opinions cannot be correct. Which one to choose?
The idea of erosion proposed by geologists sounds plausible, but only to a certain extent. Glastonbury Hill consists of four different rock layers, starting from the sandstone peak that forms its peak. It can be assumed that, due to the different density of the layers, steps were formed between them during the weathering process. But so far no one has presented a geological model of the process, which could lead to the formation of an intricate labyrinth with seven turns, discovered by Russell and Ashe.
Temple of the Sun?
Glastonbury Tor has an interesting geographical feature: its rhomboid shape creates an orientation approximately from the southwest to the northeast, and the long axis passes through the crest of the hill where the chapel of St. Michael. On this line is also a large stone, which Jeffrey Ashe regarded as a mark of the entrance to the maze. It is worth noting that this axis is located at an angle of 63 degrees east of the north – in the direction of sunrise on May 1, the former, as it turns out or thought up by modern “scientists”, the most important Celtic holiday of the year, marking the rebirth of the sun after winter and the arrival of summer .
But that’s not all. If you continue the axis passing through Glastonbury Hill as an imaginary line in both directions, it will cross other important points. Ten miles southwest is Burrowbridge Mump, an unusual conical hill resembling a miniature version of Glastonbury Tor. It is exactly on the axis – when viewed from the Browbridge Mump, the sun rises directly above Glastonbury Tor on the morning of the first day of May. This may be a coincidence, but if you continue the line in a northeast direction, it will pass through the south entrance of the huge stone circle in Avebury. “Leah hunters” continued this line even further in both directions, having strung on it a huge number of prehistoric and sacred places in southern England.
Interesting opportunities discovered by the Glastonbury Tor researchers so far cause contemporaries more questions than answers; they believe that only archaeological data from excavations on the terraced slopes can be decisive evidence. However, no matter how surprising it may seem, the idea of excavation on the hillsides, which later played the role of a large ritual center, does not contradict modern archaeological ideas (read: misconceptions!) About British culture of the Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Over the past few decades, archaeologists have had to “admit” that large territories were gradually ordered and turned into “ritual landscapes” consisting of interconnected monuments. They include not only stone circles, but also burial mounds and straight ditches, sometimes reaching several miles in length. Avebury, the largest stone circle in the British Isles, was built in the center of the area where monumental earthen structures were concentrated, one of which (Windmill Hill) has a diameter of 3/4 mile. To dig a ditch surrounding it, it took more than 13,000 tons of chalk to be extracted. And, as if this was not enough, a mile from the stone circle, the ancient builders erected a colossal mound of chalk and earth – Silbury Hill. The scope of the work reached a truly grandiose scale. And all this, allegedly, was erected by the hands of man! And for what purpose, pursuing a goal or solving a problem, there is nothing to say about it! The same thing here: despite the fact that the labyrinth in Glastonbury Tor is a one-of-a-kind building, its construction is also referred to the work of “the remarkable builders of ancient Britain.” According to archaeological scientists, the authors of such statements say: “It is hard to imagine that they (the ancient builders) would have missed the chance to include such a bright gem like Glastonbury Tor in their necklace of landscape constructions.”
And look what music festivals are held here.
The most representative and most famous British music festival, Glastonbury, takes place among the green fields of Somerset amid the famous Glastonbury Tor, which tradition connects with the name of the legendary King Arthur. Performers from all musical directions come to the festival in Glastonbury. Here you can listen to performances by both rock and pop stars and numerous talented novice performers. It is impossible to convey in words the atmosphere prevailing at the festival – you need to feel it yourself.