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Glastonbury

21 20 kING ARThUR s TOMb the holy grail of royal relics the monks in 1191 had first uncovered a thick stone slab above the coffin and there, attached to its underside, they found a leaden cross bearing the inscription Hic iacet sepultus inclitus Rex Arturius in insula Avalonia . this translates as Here lies buried the famous King Arthur in the Isle of Avalon . obviously these were the mortal remains of King Arthur and his Queen, Guinevere. this was a major discovery, and seemed to confirm without a shred of doubt the legend that Glastonbury was, indeed, the mythical realm of Avalon. Modern day historians, however, are largely sceptical of this whole story, claiming that it was probably contrived by the monks with a view to restoring the fortunes of the abbey after the devastation of the fire. that must have been to some extent the case, but if there really was an historical King Arthur who ruled in these parts in about 450 AD, then Glastonbury Abbey would indeed have been the logical place to bury him. the ground near the old church was the holiest in england and most fit for an illustrious king. After all, it had long been held to be the final resting place of Joseph of Arimathea. the remains were preserved as relics in the st Mary chapel and in 1278, in the presence of edward I, they were ceremonially reinterred in a fine black marble tomb in the newly built abbey church. there they remained until the dissolution in 1539. the tomb s position is still marked today. Above The remaining two pillars of the central crossing, just east of which lay the site of the of the tomb of Arthur and Guine vere. Right The lead cross bearing the inscription about Arthur. It passed into private hands at the dissolution and was lost. There have been reports of its brief reappearance, most recently in 1981, but none can be confirmed as being of the original cross. Like other Arthurian legends this too is a mystery. Below An ancient altar tomb from St John s church in Glastonbury.
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