Thursday, September 01, 2011

Glastonbury, England - September 1, 2010

There are a few places in this world that act as magnets for spacy people. Mount Shasta, the town, on the side of Mount Shasta the mountain in Northern California, is one such. Swarming with unkempt aging hippies in tawdry knee length sweaters writing unintelligible verse and all the while mesmerized by the mountain's imagined magic powers. Glastonbury, we discovered, is another such place.
A small town in the county of Somerset with a population of around 9,000 it is centered around a defunct abbey that has been there since Saxon times. The abbey came to a violent end during the Dissolution and the buildings were "quarried" for use in local building work. Many of the oldest surviving buildings in the town are associated with the abbey. The Church of St John the Baptist on High Street dates from the 15th century.
Just southeast of town is Glastonbury Tor, a 500' hill in the midst of drained fen land. An artesan spring,emitting iron rich water for eons appears to have hardened the sansdtone in its vicinity as the iron permeated the stone and oxidized. Over the millenia, the surrounding area weathered away leaving this singular hill jutting from the plain below.
The Glastonbury whackos - the New Age Community in politically correct England - ascribe all kinds of mysterious myths and legends to Glastonbury Tor. These involve Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail and of course good old King Arthur and the Lady in the Lake. In some Arthurian literature Glastonbury is actually identified as the legendary island of Avalon. During the 19th and 20th centuries tourism developed based on the rise of antiquarianism, the association with the abbey and the promoted mysticism of the town. As with many towns of similar size, the town center has seen better days and now supports a large number of alternative shops catering to the eccentric.
Glastonbury is currently famed for its eponymous Music Festivals which originally ran from 1914 to 1926. There is little link, beyond the name, between the those early festivals and the modern Glastonbury Festival, founded in 1970, which is now the largest open-air music and performing arts festival in the world. Although named for Glastonbury it is actually held at Worthy Farm 6 miles east of town.
Get to know Glastonbury here.

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