Glastonbury is Famous for its Myths, King Arthur Legends and The Glastonbury Festival:
Glastonbury is mostly associated with the Glastonbury Festival or Glasto, the largest open-air music and performing arts festival in the world. This small town in Somerset, about 48 km south of Bristol, is also shrouded in many myths and legends in relation to Joseph of Arimathea, King Arthur, the Holy Grail, Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury Tor and the Glastonbury hawthorn.
Glastonbury Abbey and King Arthur’s Resting Place
The coach and car park is next to one of Glastonbury’s key landmarks, the Glastonbury Abbey grounds. Glastonbury Abbey is believed to be the earliest Christian sanctuary in Britain. Pilgrims used to flock here as Glastonbury was one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in England.
Glastonbury Abbey is set in 36 acres of parkland and amongst the tranquil and atmospheric ruins visitors can learn more about the legends of King Arthur. One of these legends revolves around claims made in 1191 by some monks at Glastonbury Abbey that they found the graves of King Arthur and Lady Guinevere to the south of the Abbey’s Lady Chapel. The remains were later removed and lost during the Reformation. A notice board in Glastonbury Abbey marks the spot where King Arthur’s final resting place is believed to be.
For a change of scene from King Arthur, the myths and legends, take a walk through the main streets of Glastonbury and you’ll see a very different side of this town. Walking up High Street, we saw a large number of alternative shops and healing centres lining both sides of the street. And with locals strolling about in tie-dye garments and psychedelic colours, it felt very much like a throwback to the hippie days . Shops with names like The Goddess, Man, Myth & Magik, Stone Age, etc. offer tarot healing, new moon healing, crystal healing, religious books and other products.
At St John’s Parish Church is the Glastonbury Labyrinth which was built in 1705 to celebrate Glastonbury receiving its town charter from Queen Anne.
We stepped through The Courtyard at 2-4 High Street and the passageways opened out into a courtyard where an eclectic mix of businesses operate – there was a nice cafe decorated with colourful hanging baskets, a plant shop and a dress shop, next to which was a giant Buddha sitting in a corner. Upstairs from the cafe is the Isle of Avalon Foundation which offers all kinds of spiritual courses such as esoteric soul healing and shamanic practice. Described as a New Age community, Glastonbury attracts people with new age beliefs.
Although Glastonbury is famously associated the Glastonbury Festival, these days the modern Glastonbury Festival of Performing Arts is actually held at Worthy Farm in Pilton, about 9.7 km east of the Glastonbury. This very popular festival attracts about 150,000 visitors annually. Glastonbury is also popular during the Summer solstice when many visitors and sun-worshippers flock to Glastonbury Tor to watch the sun rise on June 21st.
Some interesting historic sights and landmarks in Glastonbury include:
- Glastonbury Tor
- Glastonbury Abbey
- Chalice Well
- Octagonal Market Cross
- St John’s Parish Church
- Somerset Rural Life Museum
- St Benedict’s Church
If you’re in Glastonbury for a quick stop, as we were, there are plenty of cafes and pie shops where you can grab a quick snack.
For an interesting place to stay in Glastonbury, the George & Pilgrim in the town centre is a 15th century hotel where the pilgrims used to lodge. You can search and read hotel reviews for other Glastonbury hotels here.>
Map of Glastonbury: