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15 14 seVeN hOLy IsLANDs and the Saints of Glastonbury Glastonburys twelve hides of land granted to st Joseph were later expanded to include other holy islands where chapels belonging to the abbey stood. of seven such islands the principal one remained that of Avalon with its old church. A mile west of Glastonbury is Beckery where there was a chapel dedicated to st Brigid who had come to Glastonbury from Kildare in Ireland in the 5th century. often represented with her cow, a carving of her is found on the ruined church tower on the tor see page 30. st Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is also said to have come here in 433 and to have ended his days as Abbot of Glastonbury. He is said to have been buried in the old church and his relics were among the abbeys chief prizes. St David of Wales arrived at Glastonbury in the 6th century meaning to reconsecrate the Old Church, but did not do so since he had a vision in which he saw that it had already been consecrated by Jesus himself in honour of his mother Mary. His miraculous altar, like a great sapphire, was one of Glastonburys treasures. Another abbot was St Dunstan who served from 940 to 956 AD. He initiated the construction of many new monastic buildings to the south of the Old Church and under him the abbeys wealth increased until it was among the richest in England. The relative position of the seven holy islands of Glastonbury is not unlike that of the seven bright stars of the Great Bear Ursa Major which is associated with the name of King Arthur. Above The Twelve Hides of Glastonbury. Apart from the Isle of Avalon itself and Beckery Brides Mound, the other five islands close to Glastonbury with chapels were Godney Gods Island, Martinsea or Marchey, Meare, Panborough and Nyland Andrewsea.
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