Glastonbury – Home of King Arthur’s Camelot

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The tiny hamlet of Glastonbury was not only an important Neolithic site, but also the reputed home of King Arthur’s Camelot. Although little remains physically of either, prehistoric religion and Arthurian legend are just another aspect of Glastonbury, which makes this small town in Somerset so spiritually magnificent. In fact, many proponents of the New Age regard the entire area as an acupuncture point of the Earth body  the crown chakra  and one of the most powerful energy centers on the planet.

The charming atmosphere of Glastonbury and the surrounding countryside has encouraged much folklore and legend. King Arthur, for example, was probably a prominent chief who helped to defend this part of England against the pagan Saxons. It is believed the bones of King Arthur and his Queen Guinevere are buried in the Glastonbury Abbey. This is speculation because the stories of Camelot and the Round Table came many years after their deaths. Glastonbury lore also relates that among the many esteemed visitors to this holy place was Jesus Christ. Jesus was a prolific traveler who may have gone along with his uncle, Saint Joseph of Arimathea, on at least one trading mission to Glastonbury.

Christian pilgrims have made their way to Glastonbury from the earliest times. It is said that the oldest Christian shrine in England was erected in Glastonbury. Remains of an old wattle twigs and poles church date back to 633 CE. Successive churches were built on the exact site of the wattle church, later to be surrounded by a medieval abbey which is now in ruins. On the Abbey grounds is the Glastonbury Thorn, which allegedly sprang from Saint Joseph’s staff and blooms every Christmas. Throughout history Christians have yearned to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where Christ was born and died. Yet, most had to be satisfied with a pilgrimage to one of the Stations of the Cross. The Glastonbury Abbey is one of the 14 Stations. Each Station represents part of Christ’s journey to his execution on Calvary Hill. His name “Jesus Christ” is engraved outside the Abbey, marking the pilgrim’s final destination point.

Rising above the flat plains of Somerset Levels is the Glastonbury Tor, an unmistakable landmark hill with a ruined church tower at its peak. Excavations atop Glastonbury Tor in the 1960s revealed evidence of earlier timber buildings, metal-working hearths, animal bones, and pieces of pottery with traces of Mediterranean wine stains. The 500-foot (150-m) Tor could have served as a fortress, perhaps the location where Queen Guinevere was held captive by Melwas before King Arthur came to rescue her. The remains of the tower seen today were part of a medieval church dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel. Monks built Saint Michael’s church atop of an existing church, which was later left in ruins by an earthquake. A medieval fair was held at the foot of Glastonbury Tor every year from 1127 until 1825 in honor of Saint Michael. The Chalice Well between the Tor and the Abbey was said to contain the Holy Grail, the elusive chalice used by Christ during the Last Supper. It was sought in vain by the Knights of the Round Table.

Although Glastonbury was an ancient pagan and Christian center rich with folklore and history, it has taken on a new role as the heart chakra of the planet by New Agers. Accordingly, the cosmic vibration the New Age community celebrates is marked by a massive Zodiac surrounding the Glastonbury area. Similar to the Nazca Lines in Peru, the 10-mile 16-km wide earthworks are only visible from the air. Hedges, woods, ditches, and ancient footpaths were laid out in the Age of Taurus, to form a ring of the twelve Zodiac signs, and may have been used as a Temple to the Stars. The Zodiac is also representative of King Arthur’s Round Table. The Arthurian legends and the Zodiac signify our quest for “the eternal self,” also identified as King Arthur’s Holy Grail. Grasping its significance requires much patience and imagination due to the Zodiac being largely based on associations and legends rather than known historical facts.

Getting to Glastonbury

The small town in Somerset is most easily reached by car. Glastonbury is on Route 4 from London, and can be accessed from the M5 out of Exeter. The ancient Roman town of Bath is about 30 miles (50 km) from Glastonbury. Tour groups frequently visit Glastonbury from London. Because several transfers are needed, local buses and trains can be difficult to navigate.