Glastonbury - Somerset, England
Crouched in the lee of three hills, most notably
the Tor, the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey are all that remain of what
was once the greatest monastic foundation and church in all of Britain,
second only in wealth and size to Westminster. At the height of the
Middle Ages it was a shrine second to none in Europe, considered by
some to be as important as Rome itself.
Here, according to legend, came Joseph of
Arimathea, the uncle of Jesus who gave up his
tomb to house the body of his nephew. Later, Joseph was given the
Holy Grail, the most mystical vessel which had been used to celebrate
the Last Supper and the first Eucharist, and which caught some of
the blood of the crucified Christ as he hung upon the cross. After
the Resurrection, Joseph fled to Britain with the cup and founded
the first Christian church on the ancient island of Ynys Witrin, sometimes
known as the Glass Isle, or Avalon, better known today as Glastonbury.
to legend, once lay the body of King Arthur.
Arthur's body was brought here to be buried. Today, a plaque marks
the spot where, in 1191, his tomb was apparently uncovered by builders
working on the restoration of the abbey after it had been almost destroyed
by fire in 1184. Whether this was truly Arthur's grave or a complicated
forgery perpetrated by the monks to raise funds to rebuild their half-burned
church has been contested ever since. A lead cross, last seen by William
Camden in the eighteen century, used to be displayed in the abbey.
Here lies buried the renowned King Arthur in the Isle
There are those who believe it a forgery and those who think it was
the genuine gravestone of Britain's greatest king.