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Glastonbury – the Chalice Well, with its crumbling bell tower, symbol of ancient ruins, has represented for centuries one of the most full of mystery and mythology places of England. Located on a hill on the border with Wales, the bell tower is what remains of the church that once stood in this lush countryside, once surrounded by the sea and accessible only by a narrow strip of land. Glastonbury became more accessible when the waters began to recede: the remaining marshes dried up more and more during the summer, making the island accessible and habitable. The earliest records related to Glastonbury date back to 705 AD, when King Ine founded a monastery, later inhabited by Benedictine monks.
The legends that refer to Glastonbury are various, but the most famous and fascinating concern the Holy Grail and King Arthur.
It is said that Joseph of Arimathea, once to Glastonbury, knelt to pray by placing his stick on the ground: in that precise spot was born the “Glastonbury hawthorn”, that still blooms twice a year, roughly around Easter and Christmas. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury founded a Christian community and built a church, destroyed by fire in 1184; on its foundations, in the twelfth century, was built the “Church of Our Lady.”
At the foot of the hill on which stands the sanctuary, there is an ancient well, a key element in the mysterious mythology that surrounds Glastonbury, because it is believed that in this very well – called “Chalice Well” – Joseph of Arimathea hid the Holy Grail.
Also, it is a common belief that Glastonbury is still the old Avalon, and that King Arthur was buried here. Thanks to the stories of a Welsh bard, Henry II identified the exact location of the tomb of King Arthur.
Two meters deep a stone slab was found, bearing the inscription: “Here lies buried King Arthur, in the island of Avalon.” It was decided to dig further and, in about three meters below the stone, was found in a tomb containing the remains of two people.
Legend has it that they are Arthur and Guinevere, tied in an eternal love, but no scientific evidence has ever supported these theories.
Besides these fascinating legends, the most bewitching mystery of Glastonbury is undoubtedly the “temple of the stars”: in all the surrounding area, for a radius of 12 km, all the roads, ditches, streams, hills, and even paths are arranged so as to form the twelve constellations, visible and recognizable. Such mystery is associated with the saga of King Arthur, because of the belief that he was buried in these sacred places, although similar symbols have been found in many other ancient megalithic sites.
RELATED CELTIC SYMBOLS
and the Horse