Since mankind emerged on our planet, people built structures to provide themselves with shelter against the elements. From simple wood or stone constructions, as civilization developed, structures became bigger and more imposing.
Some became extremely elaborate. The Kings’ power and organised religion led to some of the most striking.
For the last few months I have been working towards an exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey's Museum and Gallery building. The Abbey started as a simple Saxon stone church in the 7th century, and was enlarged in the 10th century. It became bigger and wealthier as time passed.
After a fire in the 11th century, the monks ‘discovered’ the tomb of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. The massive influx of pilgrims and visitors that followed filled the monks’ coffers and allowed for the rebuilding of the Abbey Church.
As the information in the Abbey website says: “In the 14th century, as the head of the second wealthiest abbey in Britain (behind Westminster Abbey), the Abbot of Glastonbury lived in considerable splendour and wielded tremendous power.”
But during the reign of Henry VIII, the monasteries were dissolved, their wealth appropriated and the monks dispersed. However the structures survived both the wanton destruction, the change of ownership, and the ravages of time, and what’s left of the old Abbey Church is now lovingly restored, maintained, and looked after by the trustees, staff and volunteers, who communicate the history and archaeology of the place to visitors and educational groups.