We’ve all heard the rumours about tunnels under the Abbey and Tor, but are they pure invention? If not, what were they for?
And are they still there?
Back in Celtic Lake Village times, the Isle of Glass was an Island of the Dead. Later, we have tales of King Arthur’s trip to the Underworld to capture a magic cauldron and his final trip to Avalon – the stories are connected by the presence of nine maidens in both. Later still, the hermit monk St. Collen is said to have been invited into Annwn – the realm of the fairy King Gwyn ap Nudd – via a door in the side of the Tor.
Glastonbury’s geography is named after Grail Lore, with Chalice Hill being one of the alleged resting places of Joseph of Arimathea, buried with the silver cruets of Christ’s blood and sweat. Various versions of a prophecy suggest that when the tomb is re-discovered it will bring in a period of peace and enlightenment. But there are other more definite missing relics… At the time of the Dissolution, Glastonbury Abbey was the second richest after Westminster Abbey. Thirteen kings after Arthur had given gifts of land, gold, silver and precious artefacts, most of which are unaccounted for.
When Frederick Bligh Bond became director of excavations in 1908, he soon found the lost chapels of Edgar and Loretto… and the site of Arthur’s grave, as re-discovered by the monks in the 1190s. However, it eventually transpired that Bond had got the information in séances by automatic writing that originated from the spirits of nine dead monks from the Abbey, who called themselves “The Company of Avalon.” Nine again! The communications mentioned several underground tunnels, hinting that the lost treasures were hidden in them, and Bond investigated. His popular books do mention these tunnels, but recently, two hard-to-find essays poured much new light on the subject. Then the recent surveys by Reading University have helped make further sense of all this.
At this talk, Geoff will be launching his book, Glastonbury Underground, which will be available at a special price.
Geoff has written books on prophecy and ancient calendars, and has ‘de-coded’ the Chartres Labyrinth as a device to calculate the moving date of Easter (as shown in his previous PLG talk). Recently, he wrote a book called Mendip Madness, about his encounters with the colourful Somerset inhabitants while driving the local buses. He has been a continuous resident of Glastonbury for the last 12 years.