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Glastonbury >  Google™ Map Sep 2023+  Somerset Coat of Arms

glaston unknown (personal name?) + burh Old English fortified place. Population - 8,932.

England-Somerset Flag UK > England > Somerset

Sep 2023+

Somerset Coat of Arms

No, not the famous music festival, silly! This is the Somerset town that's some five miles west and the reason for taking just a single boiled egg at breakfast and not the full dozen to guarantee a few days of, erm, safety.

When it's said 'town', first impressions are of a theme park, actually, although some of the trading is fare enough on the more kinds of kidney beans than you thought possible front.

Glastonbury - Earthfare

The rest, however, could best be described as, well, mystical tat but at least the hawkers of wholesale crystals lend some colour to what couldn't not be considered to be an enchanting high street.

Glastonbury - High Street
Glastonbury - High Street

Any chanting, however, is strangely absent from the open windows of the many spiritual and meditative disciplines being practised along here, probably.

Rising highlights include the 15th-century Church of St. John the Baptist although attendances aren't thought to be on the rise what with them all being pagans round here?

Glastonbury - St. John the Baptist's Church
Glastonbury - Market Cross
Near Glastonbury Abbey

The market cross also catches the eye but it's just over a mile to the top of the Tor for which Glastonbury is most famous for. The tower on top is just about visible through the trees, somewhere, but it's not so much a folly as first thought.

St. Michael's Church Tower is the sole-surviving structure of when Henry VIII invented the word 'dissolution' and some kind of church has stood 500-foot up since Saxon times, they say.

The Holy Grail and King Arthur are hidden underneath, obviously, and why wouldn't they lay there? There's a ley line that links it to Glastonbury Abbey, you see, although there's another invisible, sorry imaginary, sorry non-existent, line here since 'Glasto' ain't got no train station no more.

Glastonbury and Street station was closed in the '60s on the recommendation of so-called 'Dr' Beeching and it's now some sort of storage facility on the edge of town but with the level crossing still intact.

That means none of the 200,000 people who now attend the world-famous music festival since they started letting the likes of Kylie on will arrive directly by choo-choo although one of the original canopies was moved to provide shelter in the Car Park of St. John the Baptist.

Glastonbury - St. John's Car Park

This deliberate switching of narrative tracks is purely because there's only so much mileage in musing on a mythical king.

Or was he?

The current parliamentary incumbents in Westminster can only dream of less-than-zero net migration but there's evidence that was the case with the Saxons heading back across the Channel in the middle hundreds and you might want to pull up a chair...

If only they had stayed in Essex and hadn't ventured west to be met by a legendary, warrior king of the Ancient Britons who is reckoned to have sent 'em packing and whose mum is said to have called him Arthur on a Sunday.

What she thought of the daughter-in-law giving Sir Lancelot the glad eye is equally vague although Queen Guinevere doesn't make an appearance until about 700 years later as a plot-driving character in the source material for the Arthurian legend, see also Sir Lancelot and the Holy Grail.

Nonsense or not, what is known, definitely, is that Arthur and Guinevere's skeletons were found in a tree trunk beneath Glastonbury Abbey, honestly, although the Cornish and the Welsh make equally unconvincing claims to their location.

This appears to have been some very early and prescient PR work by King Henry II to give pilgrims a reason to visit and to raise funds for the recently burned-down church's roof. Little did he know this would evolve into today's mini-industry and if only they could all be sat round a table to confirm what really happened.

The only piece of definite evidence is Arthur's old mate Merlin and here he is, look, with the pilgrims of today parting with their pounds for a selfie.

Near Glastonbury Abbey - Merlin

Through magical eye lenses, Merlin is able to read the thoughts of Arthur who is summoning his help on a matter of the supernatural. Something about his sword getting stuck in a stone, or something.