The Chalice Well
The tower of St. Michael's
Church on the sumit
of Glastonbury Tor
3 major sites of antiquity for those who are interested in Arthurian legend
and British mythology in general. These places, are the ruined abbey,
the Tor and the Chalice Well. For those with a serious interest in Archaeology
they may have little to offer, but they are never the less still well
worth a visit for their mythological value alone.
The first evidence of a structure on this site date back to about 700AD,
although what can be seen now is the remains of the 12th century St.
Mary's Chapel (or Lady Chapel), the 14th century Abbot's Kitchen and
the abbey church itself which was constructed between these two dates.
The bodies of both King Arthur and Queen Guinevere were claimed to have
been found in the monastery burial ground by monks and reburied inside
the abbey on a spot now marked by a plaque. As with so many legends
and stories there is no solid evidence to prove the truth of this claim.
Legend also states that Joseph of Arimathea came to Glastonbury and
built a church where the Lady Chapel stands and planted his staff on
the nearby Wearyall Hill causing a Holy thorn tree to spring from it.
The descendants of this Holy Thorn, which is of Mediterranean origin
and flowers at Christmas, now grow within the grounds of the abbey.
Joseph of Arimathea is also said to have brought the Holy Grail to Glastonbury
which legend says is hidden within the Chalice Well. The Well is a natural
spring which rises in a garden at the foot of the Tor, and has a high
iron content which turns the water a reddish brown. This has led to
its alternate name of the Blood Spring, an obvious allusion to the blood
of Christ emanating from the Chalice. The Grail, or Chalice itself is
said to have been a dish or cup that was used by Jesus at the last supper,
and later by Joseph of Arimathea to catch drops of blood at the Crucifixion.
According to Thomas Malory, after being brought to Britain it vanished
due to the world becoming too sinful for such a holy relic, only revealing
itself to a chosen few.
Another mystical place, the Tor is topped by the tower of St. Michael's
church. The 13th century chapel has now gone but the tower remains as
the destination for many tourists each year in search of some kind of
spiritual experience. The path that winds around the hill is has been
suggested as a processional route for past ceremonies, and it is possible
that a prominent natural mound such as this would have been important
to people living in, or travelling to this area.