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1 INTRODUCTION Few would guess that a small market town in somerset was once considered the holiest ground in england. Its history, sanctity and the extraordinary origins of its great abbey once drew pilgrims here from all over Britain and europe. Glastonbury tor, an odd conical hill with the tower of a ruined church on its summit, can be seen like a beacon from miles around. this, and the nearby ground rising above what used to be an inland sea, was once a sacred island steeped in mystery and legend, the fabled Ynys Witrin, or Glassy Isle. of Glastonbury s prechristian past we know very little. Legends of a holy island of druids and priestesses are hard to prove. early folk and fairy stories refer to the tor as an ancient entrance to the underworld. two springs, one of ironrich redcoloured water, one white, flow from the two tallest hills and mingle between them. Did Jesus really visit here Do King Arthur and Queen Guinevere actually lie buried here in the Avalon of legend so many of the mysteries surrounding Glastonbury may never be proven. today, the ancient abbey is largely ruined and laid low. It has no abbot and is without its monks. But it is still much visited, both by tourists and pilgrims, ordinary and extraordinary people all keen to soak up some of the numinous and magical power of Glastonbury, ancient Isle of Avalon.
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