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5 4 The IsLe OF AVALON a secret island At the end of the last Ice Age Britain was still joined to what is now France by a land corridor across what is now the english channel. As the glaciers melted from about 8000 Bc the sea level rose rapidly and many coastal areas became inundated. the lowlands of somerset were turned into an inland sea bordered by salt marshes reaching eastward past Glastonbury. the only dry land now was the Mendip Hills and the Polden Hills further south. In between, isolated hills, such as Wedmore, Burtle and Meare, stood out of the water as islands. the most distinctive of these was Glastonbury tor and its surrounding high ground. this was the Isle of Avalon, a secret island surrounded by tidal waters and accessible only by boat or the hidden ancient trackways across marsh and mudflats. the flooded inland area, later known as the Avalon Marshes, became covered with silt and clay allowing the salt marshes to spread throughout the levels. the rising waters eventually began to recede, and the marshland vegetation over the millennia compacted into layers of peat, up to 20 feet thick, which preserved many wooden and metal artefacts from neolithic times. In the 20th century peatcutters would sometimes discover such hoards. the oldest of the finds were the already mentioned prehistoric wooden trackways, of which more than 43 groups were excavated before their destruction or removal as a result of peatcutting in the 1970s. Above A map of the Island of Glastonbury, showing the contours and key features the Tor, Chalice Hill, Chalice Well, Wearyall Hill, Beckery, Lake Village and Ponters Ball. Below Jane Brayne s drawings of the Glastonbury Lake Village see next page in 225BC and 125BC. The Isle of Avalon
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