Historical Overview - Glastonbury | Map of its Ancient Landscape and Ley Alignments

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Historical Overview

Thoughts

Thoughts and Notes
Historical introduction


This map covers developments unfolding over a vast period, stretching roughly five millennia between 5,700 and 600 years ago (3700 BCE to 1400 CE).

Several successive cultures have peopled this landscape over the millennia. This map shows the signs of their spiritual and operational relationship with nature, the land and water. One purpose of this map is to remind us of the 'spiritual technologies' used in ancient times, and to contribute toward learning from them for today.

For most of its history Glastonbury has been almost an island, with but one road from the East, and entry by boat from the sea westwards. It has always been a haven for 'odd' people, an isle perennially commanding much attention and respect across time. Even today, with our cars, mobile phones and busy schedules, Avalon lives still in its own distinct reality-bubble, a place where 'the veils are thin'.

Land and water

The former coastline featured on this map still acts as the boundary of safe, dry habitation. The Somerset Levels, through recent millennia, has been marshy wetland, with open water, slow rivers, soggy woodland and peat marsh. Originally it was a big sea inlet, then the inland parts filled in with peat to become freshwater wetlands, while the coastward parts alternated between saltmarsh and freshwater bog. bordered by sand dunes.

Until recent times the Levels have been periodically, sometimes fatally inundated – such as during a tsunami originating in the Atlantic off SW Ireland in 1607, which killed 20,000 people around the coast of the Bristol Channel. The villages of the Levels still congregate on the clay islands of old, which were safe from flooding. The ground was also more firm – peat being soft, compounded vegetation compost. Many of the islands bear Viking names since the Vikings occupied them from the sea during their invasions during the 800s and 900s. Glastonbury, Cheddar, Somerton and Langport all had harbours, and could be reached from the sea along the rivers marked on the map.

The Mendip Hills, relatively densely populated and wealthy 2,000 years ago, were strategically important to the Romans mainly for their lead and also for silver. Lead was an important metal of the time owing to its plasticity and its value as an ingredient of metal alloys. It was also not plenteous – this, plus Cornish tin, gave the Romans an economic reason to go to the trouble of invading Britain. The British influence on metal prices could affect the economy of the empire, stimulating inflation and economic downturn.

Significant trade with the Mediterranean flourished in the 'Summerlands'. At the lake villages at Glastonbury and Meare there have been found plenteous signs of Mediterranean wine, olive oil and other items – and the boats carried British textiles and metals back. The tradition that Jesus visited Glastonbury as a youth or young man, with Joseph of Arimathaea, who was both an Essene and a metal trader, is not at all implausible.

The Somerset Levels

It was the Romans who began creating sea-defences on the Somerset coast, by planting species to fix the sand dunes on the coast between Burnham and Brean, west of Glastonbury. There was a significant salt-making industry in the semi-saltmarsh of the time, behind the dunes.

Further enhancement of the Levels was started by medieval monks, partially through drainage of the Moors around Glastonbury, and partially through preservation of open water and wetlands, rich in fish and fowl. Meare Pool was important (note the Abbot's Fish House in Meare) since fish was an important part of the monk's diet.

Full drainage was done on a large scale, in bursts, from the 1620s onward, and particularly from 1800 onward, after the enclosures. During the enclosures of the 1700s large landowners appropriated common land, obliging peasants to lose livelihood and leave for the towns. The Moors were turned from mixed-use and wild to grazing use. The system of straight rhynes (drainage ditches) and squarish properties on the Levels was established.

Water-levels have risen and fallen over the centuries, the last high peak being in the Dark Ages around 400-800 CE – Arthurian and early Saxon times. In the Megalithic period, during which the ancient wooden trackways were built across the Moors (see map), the Moors were very soggy, with pools and slow rivers, overgrown in parts with alder carr and willow – a wet, temperate jungle.

Cultural waves

Glastonbury has been a sacred centre since time began – many have been its upswings and declines. It was important in Megalithic times 4,000-5,000 years ago, in Celtic/Druidic times 2,000-2,500 years ago, and in the Medieval period 600-1200 years ago. When the Abbey was destroyed in 1539, a spiritually relatively barren period followed until around 100 years ago, when artists, performers, occultists, psychics and eccentrics began gravitating here. This gravitation rose dramatically from the 1960s onwards and continues today.

This has not happened simply because 'birds of a feather' choose a nice place to congregate. It is because there is something here. Something with a life and a will of its own which has pulled residents and visitors into its orbit. It's a power-point. The power pre-existed human presence here, yet humans have enhanced and affected it.

The ancient Britons, the Celts and the medieval church masons intentionally located their sacred places in very specific places. By some miracle, these places can form straight-line alignments, and they gave great importance to these alignments, going to great engineering trouble locate sites, establish proportions, align and connect them.

Their knowledge constituted a cultural continuity of knowledge and belief lasting at least 4,000 years. Alignments shown on this map show that this was no simple or devised pattern – it had an intuitive naturalness to it, anchored to hilltops, peaks and natural features. Similar patterns are seen in many parts of the world.

Whether these 'leys' marked or enhanced pre-existent earth energy-fields or lines, whether they helped create such meridians, or whether such leys and meridians are a product of human ingenuity is a question yet to be answered. In the 1970s Tom Graves, a dowser who then lived locally, described it as a form of landscape energy-engineering akin to acupuncture. He identified the core purpose behind ancient remains and alignments.

Visit these sites, suspend your preoccupations and theories and just listen and watch. When you leave them you will feel different. Try it!

NEXT: Mysterious Glastonbury

 
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