Glastonbury, UK - Glastonbury Abbey; Hingham, MA - Glastonbury Abbey
The original picture I had chosen for this project was of Glastonbury Abbey, located in Somersetshire, England. Glastonbury Abbey is the supposed burial place of both King Arthur and his Queen Guenevere. I have been completing some research into Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and thought that this photograph was of great importance to the legacy of the story and should be addressed on a deeper level. The legend of King Arthur is timeless and well-known throughout the world of literary scholars and beyond, which makes this abbey a fascinating site of cultural heritage.
In the text Le Morte d’Arthur, there are many references to the original site and its scenery. In the text, Guenevere does state the want to be buried next to her King: “Hither he cometh as fast as he may to fetch my corpse, and beside my lord King Arthur, he may bury me” (Malory 738). This correlates to the findings at the actual site of Glastonbury Abbey, where two corpses were found buried who were thought to be Arthur and Guinevere, and both remains were confirmed as one male and one female. It is also mentioned that Lancelot had brought the remains of Guenevere to Glastonbury: “How sir Launcelot went with his seven followers to Almesbury, found there Queen Guenevere dead, whom they brought to Glastonbury” (Malory 738). These literary clues along with evidence of the found bodies take the legend of King Arthur a bit closer to reality, and as remarkable as that is within its own right, the fact that the world still offers the original site intact is marvelous. Seeing how other locations around the world have taken the style and grace of the abbey, it’s exciting to see the heritage become much more prevalent within places that affect societies further than their own backyard.
GLASTONBURY ABBEY, HINGHAM, MA.
Here in America’s New England, there are plenty of nods to our former roots in the UK. If the name of “New England” itself isn’t enough, there are also towns like Worcester, Bedford, Bridgewater, Alton, and more. Perhaps the most fascinating, however, is the inclusion of some ancient architectural nods found throughout the region matching that of old texts. Although the original Glastonbury Abbey is located in Somersetshire, England, there is another Glastonbury Abbey found in Hingham, Massachusetts. This abbey is named after the original and takes pride in the associated fame of its legendary history. Due to the medieval context of the original's history, along with it being the “earliest site of Christianity in England”, the abbey in Hingham pays homage to its existence and keeps its culture alive here in the United States. With the surrounding towns of Hingham, MA, have some English connection, the abbey decided it would be a perfect site to extend its notable history and valued presence. The abbeys themselves are both made of stone, resembling that of a castle, with plentiful flowers and gardens around the outside edging. The windows vary from regular glass to stained glass, and both the original Glastonbury Abbey and the Hingham site are still active monasteries to this day. Both of the sites are connected through religion and the deep ties that bind their faith further can be seen in the similar ambience, scenery, architecture, and belief.
“Accessibility Navigation.” Glastonbury Abbey: The Archaeological Story, www.reading.ac.uk/archaeology/research/projects/arch-rg-glastonbury.aspx.
“Excavations at Glastonbury Abbey: Reassessing the Medieval Monastery.” medievalists.net, 9 Nov. 2017, http://www.medievalists.net/2017/11/excavations-glastonbury-abbey-1908-79-reassessing-medieval-monastery/.
Urbanus, Jason. “Legends of Glastonbury Abbey.” Archaeology Magazine, 16 Feb. 2016, www.archaeology.org/issues/208-1603/trenches/4172-trenches-england-glastonbury-abbey.
Patrick Brophy, Student, Fitchburg State University
Noah Milliard, Student, Fitchburg State University
Other Suggested Pairings
There are plenty of other sites around New England that can connect in some way to the literature and cultural heritage of Le Morte d’Arthur and Glastonbury abbey. The Myles Standish cemetery in Duxbury, MA, is the oldest cemetery found within America. It’s long standing history of staying intact, along with the aged stonework are a perfect display of how this old burial place of individuals has withstood the test of time, while gaining some fame over the years for its age and look, similar to that of Glastonbury Abbey.
CUMBERLAND MONASTERY, CUMBERLAND, R.I.
Another site which connects in some way is the Cumberland Monastery in Cumberland, Rhode Island. This site is home of the “Nine Men’s Misery,” where legend has it nine men were slain and buried on it’s ground by the Indians in Pierce’s fight March 26, 1676. This legend of these men has grown across the local area, and although much more modern than the legend of King Arthur, it relates due to its idea of a lost figure(s) killed and buried within religious grounds. To add to religious and legendary history, the monastery is a beautiful place where nature thrives, amongst sunny skies and a peaceful setting that makes death seem a little less intimidating.