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These authors cited older folk's sayings from around the turn of the century, but neither they nor Smith could trace any earlier source, e. Smith found there were inconsistencies in the details as to time and place, so no core legend could be identified. Stymied, Smith decided the legend was simply a product of the then-active British Israelite movement, though he offered no evidence. There are few corroborative details in the West Country folklore that he brought the boy Jesus with him on one or more of his tin-trading trips.
Supposedly the Thorn grew on Wearyall Hill originally where Joseph planted his staff and asked to be shown where his nephew had lived when he resided here during his 'missing' years i. This implies Jesus was here on his own and would have been more than a boy. A variant tradition has him shipwrecked or stormbound here for a winter. It is true that Glastonbury was a port in Roman times the sea flooded the Somerset Levels tidally - see sketch map right.
However, dating the founding of the first Church in Britain has proved impossible, though the monk St Gildas, himself connected with the site, put the coming of Christianity to Britain at the height of Tiberius's reign -- which would put it spectacularly early, i. Even the reliable mediaeval historian William Of Malmesbury, though he could not get any details, refers to the discovery of "documents of no small credit, which have been discovered in certain places to the following effect: "No other hands than those of the disciples of Christ created the church of Glastonbury.
The Abbey's main surviving buildings. The 1st-century wattle-n-daub church is thought to have stood on the site where the Lady Chapel [behind] stands today. Glastonbury grew to be the largest and richest monastery in the country - a factor which led to its annihilation in Henry VIII's Dissolution of The Monasteries in An artist's impression of the thatched 1st-Century "wattle 'n daub" church ie with walls made of intertwined withies packed with clay mud and straw.
One theory is it would have been circular, in Celtic style. This negative-reversal image from an illustration from Camden's Britannia shows the wrap-around inscription on the foot-long lead cross reportedly found in the grave in The Abbey grounds, looking towards The Tor. The town's most distinctive landmark - a ' conical hill shaped like an upturned boat, is barely visible from the Abbey.
Just visible is the 15th-C. The Grail was also thought to be hidden there, perhaps down the Chalice Well, alias the Blood Spring. The site also features other mysteries like the giant zodiac supposedly existing in the surrounding landscape pattern, and the Celtic Maze pattern around the Tor.
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Both the site and the Holy legend also became connected with later Arthurian legend. According to the Life Of St Gildas , written before the Romances, Guenevere was abducted and kept there at 'Glastonia' by the local king, and Arthur could not capture it "owing to the asylum offered by the invulnerable position due to the fortifications of thickets of reed, river and marsh.
The Somerset Levels being still largely a tidal swamp, Glastonbury was reached from inland by a causeway from Street. It was referred to as Ynys-Witrin in a AD charter as the "Isle of Glass or Glaze ", a name which may refer to the way its shape was reflected in the water. During reconstruction in after the great fire, the monks dug up a body there, identified by a foot-high lead cross.
Along with the cross, the bones recovered in were later lost, the modern 'grave-site' being the site of a tomb where the bones were relocated in Some historians think the inscription was merely a fake to help pay for rebuilding the burnt Abbey by promoting Glastonbury as an early heritage-tourism destination. The Mediaeval Latin in which it is inscribed is anachronistic, and the added phrase "in the Isle of Avalon" seems an unnecessary addition to secure place-name identification with the Romances.
Henry's son, Richard I, who had precipitated the Abbey's financial crisis by cutting off their funding when he became king, claimed on his only visit that he also found Excalibur there, giving it away on Crusade -- which would seem an unlikely act if he thought it genuine. Since the discovery of "King Arthur's Grave," the Glastonbury legend has become a key part of the Arthurian legends, with Joseph portrayed as first of a line of guardians of the Holy Grail.
Today, as well as a centre of the British "New Age" movement, it remains a Christian annual-pilgrimage site Catholic and Anglican, both in June , and a year-round international tourism destination. Glastonbury has not only become the historical centre of English Christianity, but with its symbolic identity as "Avalon," a New Age pilgrimage destination as well. Glastonbury Tor, as seen in a BBC documentary-and-book series on historical mysteries presented by the historian Michael Wood.
The belief that Joseph of Arimatheia was buried at Glastonbury led to Edward III who visited the Abbey in authorising a seer to search the abbey precincts for the grave. It was never found. Glastonbury was a sea-port in the Roman era. Later it became an impassable marsh which became a vast freshwater lake after rains. Since then, most of the Somerset Levels have been reclaimed as farmland. Glastonbury port is the round yellow bit.
The founding of the early Church here helped launch the Celtic Monastic Movement which would among other things educate the generally illiterate Saxon population, including Alfred the Great, via his Welsh tutor Asser. Dates of Joseph's final arrival vary from AD 35 to According to the Pseudo-Gospels, he was freed by the Emperor Vespasian, who had supposedly become a Christian after a miracle cure, in AD A 13th-C. British legends add the local King, Arviragus, gave Joseph 12 hides of land, and on this was built Britain's first church, a modest wattle-and-daub affair perhaps circular in shape.
Arviragus seems to have been an historical king in southwest Britain. Some argue he was the same man as, or else the brother, of the war leader "Caractacus" it should be spelt Caratacos, in Welsh, Caradoc , who led the British resistance against Vespasian's legions for 9 years until he was betrayed in AD 52, and taken to Rome, where he and his family were allowed to live quietly.
Caractacus was originally a king of the east-British tribe the Catuvellauni. Since Geoffrey of Monmouth, Arthurian literature was carefully shaped over the next two hundred years or so with all these threads linked to a common patronage. This has been interpreted as the use of the Arthurian legend by one particular Royal dynasty as political propaganda to establish their origins in legitimacy to the English throne. Labels: Arthurian Books , Plantagenets. Vandals have struck again and destroyed the historic Glastonbury tree whose origins are said to be linked to the arrival of Christianity in Britain nearly 2, years ago.
At sometime last Thursday, 23rd May, the Holy Thorn on Wearyall Hill was destroyed through an act of intentional vandalism. The Police have been informed and are trying to establish a motive for the attack; owing to its Christian links a religious motive has not been ruled out. The Glastonbury Thorn before the attack in [The Official Page for the Glastonbury Thorn - Facebook] This tree, said to be derived through cuttings from the lineage of the original, was planted on Wearyall Hill in to celebrate the Festival of Britain , had its branches cut off in and reduced to a stump in the early hours of one December morning.
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The surviving trunk put out some weak shoots that failed to develop, but now the stump of this tree has also been destroyed as someone returned nine years later to finish the job. The Glastonbury Holy Thorn has refused to grow from seed and direct cuttings and can only be grown by being grafted onto the common hawthorn, Crataegus monogyna. Every Christmas a sprig of the winter blossom is cut from the Holy Thorn in St. Johns churchyard and sent to the Queen.
This tradition has continued since the Bishop of Bath and Wells first sent a branch to Queen Anne, in the 16th century. In the 17th century the one surviving tree was cut down by Puritans during the English Civil War This Holy Thorn had grown to quite a size for the species and now formed two trunks. The other trunk was nearly cut through but survived for another thirty years, parenting many cuttings. Offspring of the Holy Thorn survived at secret locations around Glastonbury and today their descendants can be seen in specimens growing around the town such as at Glastonbury Abbey, St Johns Church, Chalice Well, the Abbey Barn and in some private gardens.
The Pilgrim Reception Centre , Glastonbury, working with the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, collected cuttings from the branches severed in to propagate and continue the lineage.
In April a new tree propagated by Kew from these severed branches was planted on Wearyall Hill and surrounded by a metal railings to provide some protection from grazing livestock. Yet, within two weeks the replacement tree had been broken off about a foot from the ground. Someone seems determined there will not be a Holy Thorn growing on Wearyall Hill. Labels: Glastonbury Thorn. Sunday, 28 April Arthur in the Celtic Languages. There are many books that focus on the Arthurian legend in literature, but three books featuring collections of essays by leading authorities in the field show the development of scholarship over the last seventy years should be held in every enthusiast's collection.
Labels: Arthurian Books. Monday, 15 April Glastonbury and the Myths of Avalon.
At lunch we noted his Arthurian murals on the walls of the George and Pilgrims Inn across the road, embellishing the traditions of the town. This a short work, the main content of the book is four chapters across pages. The first chapter deals with the mysteries of St David who Leitch argues has a stronger claim to the foundation of Glastonbury than Joseph of Arimathea. Leitch then reconstructs what he thinks really happened and the motive.
The next chapter explores the arrival of the Grail and Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury; an event that occurred shortly after Robert de Boron wrote his account of the Grail, completing Chretien de Troyes unfinished Story of the Grail. Around this time saw the emergence of the Perlesvaus , author unknown but suspected of having been written at Glastonbury.
The fourth and final chapter focuses on the Mysteries of Avallon with Leitch arguing that the real location is in the Avallonnais region of Burgundy, France. This claim has been made by Geoffrey Ashe and developed by Marilyn Floyde who identified the historical Arthur as the Romano-British military leader named Riothamus who was active in Gaul around AD. Riothamus was betrayed by Arvandus, the Prefect of Gaul and then routed by the Goths.
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In a short End Note , Leitch calls for Glastonbury to move forward and stop repeating the same, tired old claims of its Arthurian and Arimathean traditions and explore its medieval history and its very real connections with the Angevin Empire and the stories of the Grail.
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The Massacre of the Clergy of Bangor by Aethelfrith. Illtyd's Church in Llantwit Major. The Dragons of Dinas Emrys. Caerleon amphitheatre.
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