On August 4th, I found myself in the area of Glastonbury, England. That morning I visited an Archaeological location called the Cadbury Castle Site just southwest of the South Cadbury village .
From the Neolithic Age (3,000 BC) to the early 11th century, the fortress of Cadbury Castle was in turn military stronghold, center of trade and probably focus of a religious cult; by the early 16th century folklore identified it with Camelot of Arthurian Romance.
A modest Bronze Age settlement on the summit grew during the Iron Age into a large and spectacular hill fort town, (a center of craft, trade and religious worship). The place was probably a ‘capital’ of the Durotriges whose territory included central and southern Somerset and Dorset. Dwellings within ramparts were of wood, wattle and thatch.
At first left alone by the Roman government, the town was forcibly cleared around 70 AD by the Romans, an action which left some inhabitants dead and which removed others to settlements in the surrounding countryside.
People returned to the site towards the end of the Roman period and by 500 AD there was massive refortification of the hill top.
Defenses of timber and dry-stone walling replaced the earlier banks, and the posts of a new southwest gate were embedded in solid rock. Within the defenses stood a large, ailed timber hall. (The scale of the work and precious pottery found from the eastern Mediterranean imply a wealthy, sophisticated and highly organized military society).
The only surviving written record of the 5th century shows Britain divided into tribal ‘kingdoms’, and later Celtic tradition tells of a series of battles against the invading Saxons under the command of a figure called Arthur.
Cadbury, strategically placed to defend south-west Britain, could well have been the base from which Arthur led his troops to the final victory of Mons Badonis, whether that was fought in Droset, near Bath, or in north Wiltshire. Cadbury was first linked to Arthur by the writings of Leland in 1542.
Later that day, I drove to a few kilometers north west of the Cadbury Castle to Glastonbury, England.
If a special aura has long been attached to Glastenbury, it must have something to do with its Tor, a hill that rears up with dramatic suddenness from the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels.
Glastonbury Tor is a hill near Glastonbury in the English county of Somerset, topped by the roofless St Michael’s Tower. The Tor is mentioned in Celtic mythology, particularly in myths linked to King Arthur, and has several other enduring mythological and spiritual associations.
The conical hill of clay and Blue Lias rises from the Somerset Levels. It was formed when surrounding softer deposits were eroded, leaving the hard cap of sandstone exposed.
Legend asserts that Glastonbury’s ruined abbey was founded by Joseph of Arimathea, (who prepared the body of Christ for burial).
Nearby, the grail is supposed to be hidden in the Chalice Well, which lies between the Tor and the Abbey.
The waters in the Challis Well are rust-colored due to their iron content, but tradition asserts that the redness comes from the blood seeping from the sacred vessel. I only visited the other Well/Spring that is full of Calcium Carbonate that deposits on the surrounding structures, leaving a White depositional color. The Red Spring was privately owned and I was unable to get a picture of it.
King Arthur and Guinevere has also been claimed to be buried here in the Abbey.