Glastonbury

Glastonbury glăs´tənbərē [key], town (1991 pop. 6,751), Somerset, SW England. It has a leather industry, but Glastonbury is famous for its religious associations and many legends. One legend tells that St. Joseph of Arimathea founded the first Christian church in England there. On Wearyall Hill he is said to have rested his staff, which rooted and became the Glastonbury thorn, blooming annually on Christmas Eve. Another story identifies Glastonbury as the Isle of Avalon of Arthurian legend . Glastonbury Abbey was a center of learning in the Middle Ages, and the legends made it an object of pilgrimage, helping to make the abbey one of the richest in Western Europe. Extensive remains of an Iron Age lake village have been found nearby, and there is evidence of a glass-making complex dating to Saxon times (c. AD 700).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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