Fjordhammer On Tour - Glastonbury Town, Tor & Abbey
|"What's round here then?" - Entrance to the Abbey grounds next to St. Patrick's Chapel|
King Arthur, Crumbling Ruins, Incense & Witchcraft Shops
Glastonbury, a place name that needs no introduction. Deep in the heart of Somerset this mystical place shrouded in myths and legends is home to a world renowned music festival and the supposed burial place of Britain's greatest king, Arthur. I have always been captivated by King Arthur, it was the first medieval legend that I ever came into contact with. This fascination began in a cave in Machynlleth, Snowdonia, Wales, named King Arthur's Labyrinth when I must have been no older than 4, which would put it 20 years ago (damn, time flies and I feel old) where vivd depictions of the Celtic legend were displayed and the infamous battle between the Red Dragon of the British and the White Dragon of the Saxons. This was then exacerbated by a visit to Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, which is the supposed site of Arthur's conception. The ruins stand tall on the edge of the North Cornish cliffs. One place had always alluded me and that was a visit to his supposed tomb at Glastonbury Abbey. I remember briefly going through Glastonbury on the way back from a family visit to Wookey Hole Caves but was unable to go into the Abbey. Since then the Abbey and Tor of Glastonbury have always been on my list of things to do. Over the years I've never lost my fascination with Arthur his Romano-Celtic origins, to his Medieval revival by the likes of Sir Thomas Mallory, which is drenched in French chivalric honour and to some extent Merlin's reinvention in popular culture in the guise of Gandalf and Dumbledore. I have even explored the tale of Sir Gawain & The Green Knight as well as the earliest Arthurian origin stories in the Mabinogion. Living in Wiltshire, growing up around Anglo-Saxon history and Tolkien in my heart, Glastonbury is tailor made for someone like me. Given the spiritual path that I have found myself on, I was enchanted by the pure magic of the town, Tor and Abbey. It is a very mystical place for those that believe in magic with intent. So, together me and Sabrina set our sights and ventured to the Isle Of Avalon.
|Ruins of the Abbey|
There is a wealth of information on Glastonbury that I couldn't possibly sift through for this post and keep it relatively short, so I've outlined some interesting bits about the town, the Tor and the Abbey.
Glastonbury - A New Age Community On Ancient Ground With An Obscure Name
|Standing in the gateway to the Otherworld|
As someone who is interested in place names, Glastonbury is a real treat. The origins of the name Glastonbury are unclear, it is first recorded in the 7th and early 8th century under the name Glestingaburg. The "burg" element is undoubtably Anglo-Saxon and could refer either to a fortified place such as a "burh" in which Alfred the Great created many of during the Viking wars or, it is most likely to be referring to a monastic enclosure which makes sense for it's spiritual and religious importance. What is unclear is the "Glestinga" element, and it is believed that it derives from an Old English word or from a Saxon or Celtic personal name. This latter part is could be linked to the Old Welsh pedigree name "Glastening", however it is unlikely. In literature however, it could be connected to the Sumorsaete, who were an obscure Anglo-Saxon group and in all likelihood may have given their name to the county of Somerset. According to the 12th century historian William of Malmesbury; Glast was one of twelve brothers who migrated from the north to assume control of parts of Wales (the Britons still held much of the west of Britain at that time) who were great-grandsons of Cunedda (the progenitor of the great Welsh royal dynasty of Gwynedd). He is alleged to have settled in Glastonbury with his livestock after finding it empty and deserted. Historian David Thornton believes that there is no strong evidence linking this Welsh pedigree of the "Glastening" and Glastonbury other than a pure coincidence of name similarities. The "Glastening" actually have a stronger relationship with Lichfield in Staffordshire and the coincidence in names Thornton describes as "the product of medieval pseudo-historical thought supported by the zealous ingenuity of subsequent scholars". There is also a possible Irish link to Glastonbury, and it may derive from a person or kindred group named Glast. The name however is more likely to be related to an Irish individual named Glas mac Caise 'Glas son of Cas'. Glas is an ancient Irish personal name meaning 'green, grey/green', which seems logical considering the areas relationship with spiritual figures like the Green Man. In the Life of St Patrick it states that Glas is a resurrected swineherder by that name and he went to Glastonbury. It is believed that he went to an area of the village known as 'Glastonbury of the Irish' which could be referring to the area of Beckery, south west of Glastonbury centre, where it is believed an Irish Colony established itself in the 10th century and was then nicknamed 'Little Ireland'. This area was known to the Irish as Glastimbir na n-Gaoidhil 'Glastonbury of the Gaels' and this is the earliest source for the name Glastonbury. The modern Irish form for Glastonbury is Glaistimbir. Alongside its associations with myths and legends, everything about Glastonbury's history is shrouded in magical obscurity.
|Thinking in the trees in the Abbey Grounds|
The Abbey - Burial Place Of King Arthur
|The ruins of the Great Church|
|Like a tree elf|
|The Abbot's Kitchen|
Shortly after we stopped in at the Who'd Have Thought It? Pub & Inn for a refreshing drink (i.e. I had a couple of local-ish beers) before making our way up the Tor. Finding a parking space was a little bit of a logistical nightmare, but ultimately it had us perfectly positioned to take a scenic route through the woods up the Tor. Unfortunately, in our naivety we walked past this route and chose the most lung busting ascent up the Tor, and after two pints that was hard. Either way once we reached the top it was more than worth it! The sky was clear and the views were spectacular. We stayed at the top of the Isle Of Avalon for a while, Sabrina drawing and myself writing poetry, soaking in the ambience of the place. I had a small paranormal experience up there too, hearing in my left ear a voice say "What you doing?" as I drew some runes in my journal. Now I know about the death of the last Abbot on the hill, it feels like a very eerie and spooky experience. We descended the hill after taking some photos and made our way home, to taste the Glastonbury Abbey Mead I had bought in the Abbey shop as well as a Glastonbury/Somerset pin badge that now proudly adorns my blue battle jacket.
|Dad on holiday outside the Lady Chapel|
|Skipping through Cow Parsley|
|Tom has now disappeared|
Robinson, Joseph Armitage. "William of Malmesbury 'On the Antiquity of Glastonbury'" in Somerset Historical Essays. Oxford University Press (London), 1921. Hosted at Wikisource.