Glastonbury Tor is world renowned as a site of spiritual significance and is celebrated among the ‘new age’ community who make regular spiritual pilgrimages to its Somerset slopes.
The history of the tor is entwined with myth and legend, and also lays claim to a chapter in the life of Joseph of Arimathea, who according to the Gospels, was the man responsible for the burial of Jesus.
The legend of the Holy Grail places Joseph at Glastonbury, where it is widely believed that he became one of the Isles founding Christian orators. It’s also believed that Joseph brought with him a collection of holy relics, including the much venerated “Holy Grail”; the cup that captured the blood of Christ.
The story goes that Joseph arrived in Glastonbury by boat, rowing across the flooded Somerset levels, eventually finding higher ground upon which he stuck his staff, which then miraculously blossomed into the Glastonbury Thorn (or Holy Thorn).
French poet, Robert de Boron, told a version of the story of the grail in the 13th century, and it’s widely accepted that this is where the legend originated from.
De Boron’s work captured the romance of the grail, connecting Joseph to the Arthurian literary cycle which interweaves the legendry flawed utopia of Camelot and the quest for the Holy Grail by its various knights.
The legend of King Arthur is therefore also rooted in the history of the tor, and it’s said that both himself and Lady Guinevere were buried south of the Lady Chapel in the Abbey Church, their remains discovered by monks but later lost during the Reformation. King Arthur has long since been linked to the tor, often in poems and early literary works. Many believe it was King Arthur who built the ancient path that runs up the tor to the iconic St Michael’s Tower.
Another great piece of literary work to find itself woven into the Glastonbury Tor history book is the short poem, And did those feet in ancient time, written by William Blake. The poem takes its inspiration from what is regarded as the apocryphal story of Jesus travelling in the company of Joseph of Arimathea (then, a tin merchant) to Glastonbury, and takes its theme from the Book of Revelation.
If you’d like to find out more about Glastonbury Tor and it’s enigmatic connection with the Holy Grail, and then maybe plan a visit, you can do so via the National Trust website.
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So what are you waiting for…