infobox UK place
country = England
static_image_caption=A view of Glastonbury from the Tor
population = 8,800cite web|url=http://www.somerset.gov.uk/media/030F1/mendip_02mye.pdf|title=Parish population estimates|date=2002|publisher=Somerset County Council|accessdate=2008-08-17]
region= South West England
Glastonbury is a small town in
Somerset, England, situated at a dry pointon the Somerset Levels, convert|30|mi|km|0|lk=on south of Bristol. The town has a populationof 8,800. It is in the Mendipdistrict.
The town is known for its history, including
Glastonbury Lake Village, Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset Rural Life Museumand Glastonbury Tor, the many myths and legends associated with the town, and the Glastonbury Festivalwhich takes place in the nearby village of Pilton.
The origin of the name Glastonbury is unclear but when the settlement is first recorded in the 7th and the early 8th century, it was called "Glestingaburg". The "burg" element is
Anglo-Saxonand could refer either to a fortified place such as a burhor, more likely, a monastic enclosure, however the "Glestinga" element is obscure, and may derive from an Old Englishword or from a Saxonor Celticpersonal name.cite web|url=http://www.somerset.gov.uk/somerset/cultureheritage/heritage/projects/eus/glastonbury/|title=Glastonbury|last=Gathercole|first=Clare|work=Somerset Urban Archaeological Survey|publisher=Somerset County Council|accessdate=2008-08-20] William of Malmesburyin his "De Antiquitate Glastonie Ecclesie" gives the Old Celtic "Ineswitrin" (or "Ynys Witrin") as its earliest name,cite book |last=Gray |first=Louis H. |title=Speculum, Vol. 10, No. 1: The Origin of the Name of Glastonbury p46-53 |year=1935 |publisher=Medieval Academy of America |location= |isbn= ] and notes that the eponymous founder was Glast, a descendant of Cunedda.
During the 7th millennium BC the sea level rose and flooded the valleys and low lying ground surrounding Glastonbury so the
Mesolithicpeople occupied seasonal camps on the higher ground, indicated by scatters of flints.cite web |url=http://www.defra.gov.uk/erdp/pdfs/esaspdfs/stage1/SOMHIST.pdf |title=Historical Monitoring in the Somerset Levels and Moors ESA 1987–1994 |accessdate=2007-06-10 |format=PDF |work=DEFRA ] The Neolithicpeople continued to exploit the reedswamps for their natural resources and started to construct wooden trackways. These included the Sweet Track, west of Glastonbury, which is one of the oldest engineered roads known and the oldest timber trackwaydiscovered in Northern Europe. Tree-ring dating ( dendrochronology) of the timbers has enabled very precise dating of the track, showing it was built in 3807 or 3806 BC. [cite web | title = The day the Sweet Track was built | work = New Scientist, 16 June 1990 | url = http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg12617212.800.html | accessdate = 2007-10-26 ] It has been claimed to be the oldest road in the world.cite web | title = Special issue on Wetlands / The Somerset Levels | work = Current Archaeology 172 | publisher = Current Archaeology | date = February 2001 | url = waybackdate|site=http://www.archaeology.co.uk/ca/issues/ca172/ca172.htm|date=2007-04-05210503
format = Web | doi = | accessdate = 2007-10-26 ]
The track was discovered in the course of peat digging in 1970, and is named after its discoverer, Ray Sweet. [cite book |last=Williams |first=Robin |authorlink= |coauthors=Romey Williams |title=The Somerset Levels |year=1992 |publisher=Ex Libris Press |location=Bradford on Avon |isbn=0948578386 ] It extended across the
marshbetween what was then an island at Westhay, and a ridge of high ground at Shapwick, a distance close to 2,000 metres (about 1.24 miles). The track is one of a network of tracks that once crossed the Somerset Levels. Built in the 39th century BC, during the Neolithic period, the track consisted of crossed poles of ash, oakand lime (" Tilia") which were driven into the waterlogged soil to support a walkway that mainly consisted of oak planks laid end-to-end. Curves at the bases of the poles show that they were from coppiced woodland.
Most of the track remains in its original location, and several hundred metres of it are now actively conserved using a pumped water distribution system. Other portions are stored at the
British Museum, London, while a reconstruction can be seen at the Peat Moors Centrenear Glastonbury. Since the discovery of the Sweet Track, it has been determined that it was actually built along the route of an even earlier track, the "Post Track", dating from 3838 BC and so 30 years older.cite book |last=Hill-Cottingham |first=Pat |authorlink= |coauthors=Briggs, D., Brunning, R., King, A. & Rix, G |title=The Somerset Wetlands |year=2006 |publisher=Somerset Books |location= |id=ISBN 0-86183-432-1 Glastonbury Lake Villagewas an Iron Agevillage, close to the old course of the River Brue, on the Somerset Levels near Godney, some convert|3|mi|km|0|lk=on north west of Glastonbury. It covers an area of convert|400|ft|m|0|lk=on north to south by convert|300|ft|m|0 east to west,cite web |url=http://webapp1.somerset.gov.uk/her/details.asp?prn=23637 |title=Glastonbury Lake Village |accessdate=2007-11-18 |format= |work=Somerset Historic Environment Record ] and housed around 100 people in five to seven groups of houses, each for an extended family, with sheds and barns, made of hazeland willowcovered with reeds, and surrounded either permanently or at certain times by a wooden palisade. The village was built in about 300 BC and occupied into the early Roman period (around 100AD) when it was abandoned, possibly due to a rise in the water level. [cite book |last=Adkins |first=Lesley |authorlink= |coauthors=Roy Adkins |title=A field guide to Somerset archeology |year=1992 |publisher=Dovecote Press |location=Wimborne |isbn=0946159947 ] It was built on a morass on an artificial foundation of timber filled with brushwood, bracken, rubble and clay. [cite book |last=Cunliffe |first=Barry |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Iron Age Communities in Britain (4th Ed) |year=2005 |publisher=Routledge |location= |isbn=0415347793 ]
During the middle ages the town largely depended on the abbey but also had important interests in the wool trade which reduced in the 18th century. The towns charter of incorporation was received in 1705. Growth in the trade and economy was largely depended on the drainage of the surrounding moors. The opening of the
Glastonbury Canaldid cause an upturn in trade, and encouraged local building.
Richard Whiting, the last Abbot of Glastonbury, was executed with two of his monks on 14 November, 1539 during the dissolution of the monasteries.
Glastonbury received national media coverage in 1999 when
cannabisplants were found in the town's floral displays. [cite web|url=http://www.glastonbury.com/|title=Glastonbury|publisher=Glastonbury.com|accessdate=2008-08-20] [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/360351.stm|title=Hemp-lover in court over pot plants |date=1999-06-03|work=BBC News|publisher=BBC|accessdate=2008-08-20]
The town of Glastonbury is particularly notable for the myths and legends surrounding the hill around which the town has grown,
Glastonbury Tor, which rises up from the otherwise flat landscape of the Somerset Levels. These myths concern Joseph of Arimatheaand the Holy Grail, and also King Arthur. Glastonbury is also said to be the centre of several ley lines.
The legend of
Joseph of Arimatheawas the result of a work of fiction by the french poet Robert de Boronin the 12th century. The original story was likely written after the monks of Glastonbury "discovered" the bodies of King Arthur and Guinevere, and is also known as "Joseph d'Arimathe" or "Le Roman de I'Estoire dou Graal". [ [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/4936] Project Gutenburg - french text of "Le Roman de I'Estoire dou Graal"] It is thought to be part of a trilogy but only fragments of the later books survive today. The author is best known for his Arthurian romances centred around the Holy Grail, and became the inspiration for the later Vulgate Cycle of Arthurian tales and the subsequent Matter of Britain.
The original story describes how Joseph captured Jesus' blood in a cup (the Holy Grail) and that subsequently he and his son brought it to somewhere in Britain, probably Avalon, where they were imprisoned by a pagan king. Later stories (the
Vulgate Cycle) added new plots and scenes, which completely reworked Boron's original tale. Here, Joseph of Arimathea was no longer the chief character in the Grail origin. It was Joseph's son, Josephus, who took over his role of the Grail keeper. [ [http://www.timelessmyths.com/arthurian/keeper.html#Vulgate] Vulgate Cycle Arthurian Legends]
Glastonbury Abbeypresents itself as "traditionally the oldest above-ground Christian church in the World," which according to the legend was built at Joseph's behest to house the Holy Grail, 65 or so years after the death of Jesus. The legend also says that earlier Joseph had visited Glastonbury along with Jesus as a child. The legend probably was encouraged in the mediaevalperiod when religious relics and pilgrimages were profitable business for abbeys. However William Blakebelieved in this legend and wrote the poem that became the words to the patriotic English song, 'Jerusalem' (see And did those feet in ancient time).
Joseph is said to have arrived in Glastonbury by boat over the flooded Somerset Levels. On disembarking he stuck his staff into the ground, which flowered miraculously into the
Glastonbury Thorn(or Holy Thorn). This is the explanation behind the existence of a hybrid hawthorn tree that only grows within a few miles of Glastonbury.
This hawthorn flowers twice annually, once in spring and again around Christmas time (depending on the weather). Each year a sprig of thorn is cut by the local Church of England priest and the eldest child from St Johns school, which is then sent to the Queen to feature on her Christmas table top.
The original Holy Thorn was a centre of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages but was chopped down during the
English Civil War(in legend the roundhead soldier who did it was blinded by a flying splinter). A replacement thorn was planted in the 20th century on Wearyall hill (originally in 1951 to mark the Festival of Britain; but the thorn had to be replanted the following year as the first attempt did not take); but many other examples of the thorn grow throughout Glastonbury including those in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey, St Johns Church and Chalice Well.
In some versions of the Arthurian myth, Glastonbury is conceived of as the legendary island of
Avalon. An early Welsh story links Arthur to the Tor in an account of a face-off between Arthur and the Celtic king, Melwas, who had apparently kidnapped Arthur's wife Queen Guinevere. Geoffrey of Monmouthfirst identified Glastonbury with Avalon in 1133. In 1191, monks at the abbey claimed to have found the graves of Arthur and Guinevere to the south of the Lady Chapelof the Abbey church, which was visited by a number of contemporary historians including Giraldus Cambrensis. The remains were later moved, and lost during the Reformation. Many scholars suspect that this discovery was a pious forgery to substantiate the antiquity of Glastonbury's foundation, and increase its renown. According to some versions of the Arthurian legend, Lancelotretreated to Glastonbury Abbey in penance following the death of Arthur.
Glastonbury is in the
Mendiplocal government district which is part of the county of Somerset.
It falls within the Wells constituency represented in the House of Commons of the
Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the postsystem of election. The current MP is David Heathcoat-Amory, a member of the Conservative Party. [cite web | url= http://www.parliament.uk/directories/hciolists/alcm.cfm#W | title= Alphabetical List of Constituencies and Members of Parliament | publisher= House Of Commons Information Office | accessdate= 2008-01-19]
It is within the
South West England (European Parliament constituency)which elects 7 MEPs using the d'Hondt methodof party-list proportional representation.
The walk up the Tor to the distinctive tower at the summit (the partially restored remains of an old church) is rewarded by vistas of the Mid-Somerset area including the Levels, drained marshland. From there, convert|518|ft|m above sea level, it is easy to appreciate how Glastonbury was once an island and, in the winter, the surrounding moors are often flooded, giving that appearance once more. It is an agricultural region typically with open fields of permanent
grass, surrounded by ditches with willowtrees. Access to the Moors and Levels is by "droves", i.e. green lanes. The Levels and inland Moors can be convert|6|m|ft|0 below peak tides and have large areas of peat. Although underlain by much older Triassicagecite web |url=http://www.english-nature.org.uk/special/geological/sites/area_ID30.asp |title=Somerset |accessdate=2007-06-10 |work=Natural England ] cite web |url=http://www.english-nature.org.uk/science/natural/profiles/naProfile85.pdf |title=Somerset Levels and Moors Natural Area - A nature conservation profile July 1997|accessdate=2007-06-10 |format=PDF |work=English Nature ] formations that protrude to form what would once have been islands—such Glastonbury Tor. The lowland landscape was formed only during the last 10,000 years, following the end of the last ice age. Glastonbury Tor is composed of Upper Lias Sand. [cite book |last=Hardy |first=Peter |title=The Geology of Somerset |year=1999 |publisher=Ex Libris Press |location=Bradford on Avon |isbn=0948578424 ]
Glastonbury is less than convert|1|mi|km|0 across the
River Bruefrom the town of Street.
Glastonbury today is a centre for religious tourism and
pilgrimage. Diverse strains of mysticismand paganismco-exist alongside the followers of its Catholic heritage. As with many towns of similar size, the centre is not as thriving as it once was but Glastonbury supports a remarkable number of alternative shops. The outskirts of the town include a DIYshop and the slow redevelopment of a former sheepskinand slipper factory site, once owned by Morlands. Although the redevelopment has been slow, clearance of the site has begun with a dramatic change to its appearance.
The Tribunal, was a
medievalmerchant's house. It was used as the Abbey courthouse, and during the Monmouth Rebelliontrials by Judge Jeffreys. [cite web|url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/Details/Default.aspx?id=265920|title=The Tribunal |work=Images of England|publisher=English Heritage|accessdate=2008-08-20] It now serves as a museum containing possessions and works of art from the Glastonbury Lake Villagewhich were preserved in almost perfect condition in the peat after the village was abandoned. It also houses the tourist information centre.
The octagonal Market Cross was built in 1846 by
Benjamin Ferrey. [cite web|url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/Details/Default.aspx?id=265989|title=Market Cross|work=Images of England|publisher=English Heritage|accessdate=2008-08-20]
Somerset Rural Life Museumis a museum of the social and agricultural history of Somerset, housed in buildings surrounding a 14th century barnonce belonging to Glastonbury Abbey. It was used for the storage of arable produce, particularly wheat and rye, from the abbey's home farm of approximately 524 acres. Threshing and winnowing would also have been carried out in the barn. The barn which was built from local 'shelly' limestone, with thick timbers supporting the stone tiling of the roof. It has been designated by English Heritageas a grade I listed building, [cite web | title=Abbey Tithe Barn, including attached wall to east | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=265895 | accessdate=2007-09-29] and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. After the dissolution of the monasteriesin 1539 the barn was given to the Duke of Somerset. By the early 20th century it was being used as a farm store by the Mapstone family. In 1974 they donated it to Somerset County Council and between 1976 and 1978 underwent restoration.
Chalice Wellis a holy well situated at the foot of the Tor. The natural spring has been in almost constant use for at least two thousand years. Water issues from the spring at a rate of 25,000 gallons per day and has never failed, even during drought. Iron oxidedeposits give water a reddish hue, as dissolved ferrous oxidebecomes oxygenated at the surface and is precipitated. Like the hot springs in nearby Bath, the water is believed to possess healing qualities. The well itself is built of stone blocks and forms 2 underground chambers, the inner one reached through an archway at the foot of the west wall of the well-shaft. Total depth is about 9 ft. Wooden well-cover with wrought-iron decoration made in 19l9. [cite web|url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/Details/Default.aspx?id=265891|title=The Chalice Well |work=Images of England|publisher=English Heritage|accessdate=2008-08-20] In addition to the legends associated with Glastonbury, the Well is often portrayed as a symbol of the female aspect of deity, with the male symbolised by Glastonbury Tor. As such, it is a popular destination for pilgrims in search of the divine feminine, including modern Pagans. The Well is however popular with all faiths and in 2001 became a World Peace Garden.
Glastonbury Canalran just over convert|14|mi|km through two locks from Glastonbury to Highbridge where it entered the Bristol Channelin the early 1800s, however this became uneconomic with the arrival of the railway.
Glastonbury and Street was the biggest station on the original
Somerset and Dorset Joint Railwaymain line from Highbridge to Evercreech Junction until closed in 1966 under the Beeching axe. It was the junction for the short branch line to Wellswhich closed in 1951.
Road transport is provided by the A39 which passes through Glastonbury from
Wellsconnecting the town with Street and the M5 motorway. The other roads around the town are small and run across the levels generally following the drainage ditches.
There are several infant and primary schools in Glastonbury and the surrounding villages. Secondary education for 11 - 16 year olds is provided by
St Dunstan's Community School. Strode Collegein Street provides academic and vocational courses for those aged 16-18 and adult education.
The ruins of the abbey are open to visitors; the abbey had a violent end during the Dissolution and the buildings were progressively destroyed as their stones were removed for use in local building work. The remains of the Abbot's Kitchen (a grade I
listed building. [cite web | title=Abbot's Kitchen, Glastonbury Abbey | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=265971 | accessdate=2006-11-11] ) and the Lady Chapelare particularly well-preserved. Not far away is situated the Somerset Rural Life Museum, which includes the restored Abbey Barn. [cite web | title=Abbey Tithe Barn | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=265895 | accessdate=2006-11-11] Other points of interest include St. John's Church, the Chalice Well, and the historic George and Pilgrims Inn, [cite web | title=George Hotel and Pilgrims' Inn | work=Images of England | url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=265915 | accessdate=2006-11-11] built to accommodate visitors to the Abbey.
The Church of St Benedict was rebuilt by
Abbot Beerein about 1520. [cite web|url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/Details/Default.aspx?id=265861|title=Church of St Benedict |work=Images of England|publisher=English Heritage|accessdate=2008-08-20] The Church of St John the Baptist dates from the 15th century. [cite web|url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/Details/Default.aspx?id=265926|title=Church of St John the Baptist|work=Images of England|publisher=English Heritage|accessdate=2008-08-20]
The local football side is
Gary Stringer, lead singer of Reef, attended St Dunstan's school in Glastonbury for a brief period.
* Richard Whiting was the last
* The occultist and writer
Dion Fortunelived and is buried in Glastonbury.
Frederick Bligh Bond, archaeologist and writer
* The writer and historian
Geoffrey Ashe, known for his works on local legends, lives in Glastonbury, in the house that had once belonged to Dion Fortune.
* The juggler
Haggis McLeodand his late wife, Arabella Churchill
A Glastonbury Romance" by John Cowper Powys
Geoffrey Ashe, "King Arthur's Avalon: The Story of Glastonbury", 1957
* [http://www.glastonbury.gov.uk/ Official town council and community website]
* [http://www.somerset.gov.uk/archives/Maps/OS62htm/5207.htm map of Glastonbury circa 1900]
* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=40921 Benedictine Abbey of Glastonbury] A History of the County of Somerset: Vol 2: (1911)
* [http://www.somerset3d.co.uk/gallery.htm#g Photos of Glastonbury in 3d (Anaglyphs)]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Glastonbury — Vue depuis la cilline … Wikipédia en Français
Glastonbury — … Wikipedia Español
Glastonbury — (spr. glästn börĭ), 1) Stadt (municipal borough) in Somersetshire (England), 10 km südlich von Wells, hat eine Kirche zu St. Johann dem Täufer mit schönem gotischen Turm, Ruinen einer berühmten Benediktinerabtei (am besten erhalten die St.… … Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon
Glastonbury — (spr. glast nbörrĕ), Stadt in der engl. Grafsch. Somerset, (1901) 4016 E.; Seidenindustrie; Ruinen der Benediktinerabtei G. Abbey … Kleines Konversations-Lexikon
Glastonbury — [ glæstənbərɪ], Stadt in der County Somerset, Südengland, südlich von Bristol, 7 100 Einwohner Stadtbild: Die bedeutende, im frühen Mittelalter gegründete Benediktinerabtei verfiel nach Auflösung der Klöster 1539. Die nur als Ruine… … Universal-Lexikon
Glastonbury — town in Somersetshire, famous as a prehistoric site, O.E. Glestingabyrig, Glastingburi (725), Stronghold (O.E. byrig, dat. of burh) of the people (O.E. inga ) living at Glaston, a Celtic name, possibly meaning woad place … Etymology dictionary
Glastonbury — 51.1475 2.7183333333333 Koordinaten: 51° 9′ N, 2° 43′ W … Deutsch Wikipedia
Glastonbury — /glas teuhn ber ee/; for 1 also /glas teuhn beuh ree/; for 2 also /glas euhn ber ee/, n. 1. a borough of SW England, in whose vicinity the ruins of an important Iron Age lake village have been found and to which in folklore both King Arthur and… … Universalium
Glastonbury — This surname seems at first glance to be locational and to derive from the ancient town of Glastonbury in Somerset. That some name holders do derive from this source through a noble family known to have lived in Dorset in the 15th century and… … Surnames reference
Glastonbury 90 — Infobox Album Name = Glastonbury 90 Type = live Artist = Hawkwind Released = 8 November, 1999 Recorded = Travellers Field, Glastonbury Festival, 23 June 1990 Genre = Space Rock Length = Label = Voiceprint Records – HAWKVP1CD Producer = Reviews =… … Wikipedia