Sunday, 14 March 2010

This week's word is: GLASTONBURY

Hello dragon fans. This week, the author rounded off his latest series of events with visits to schools in Tavistock and Blackford, near Glastonbury. Tavistock is a lovely market town, displaying many fine granite buildings. The great explorer Sir Francis Drake came from Tavistock, in fact he was born in a farmhouse not far from the college the author was talking in. We were very impressed to discover that the town lay on the western slopes of Dartmoor, which you probably all know was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective story, The Hound of the Baskervilles. The author did consider driving back across the moor on his way home from his talk that evening. But the sound of something howling rather eerily through the fog made him think again. I didn’t dare tell him it was just his tummy rumbling after he’d eaten a dodgy cheese sandwich.

Most impressive sight of the week, however, was Glastonbury Tor (tor is another word for ‘hill’). Glastonbury is in the county of Somerset. We have been to the town quite a few times now. The reason I made it my word today is because this place, like Silbury Hill a few weeks ago, was part of the inspiration for Dark Fire. In the story, Tam and Lucy stay in a Bed & Breakfast right on the side of a place called ‘Glissington Tor’ where they discover a dragon sleeping. Has that given the plot away? No, not really. There’s a lot more to DF than that, believe me. Dragons love the mystique of places like Glastonbury. There is usually a queue of us waiting to jump into the author’s bag when he’s asked to talk in a place like this. Legend has it, for instance, that Joseph of Arimathea visited Glastonbury after the Crucifixion of Jesus. When he saw the Tor (from a distance, at a place called Weary All Hill) he rested and planted his staff into the ground and from it sprang a thorn tree, which still flowers every Easter. It’s rumoured that Joseph had the Holy Grail with him and that the Grail was housed in the first Christian church built in Glastonbury. And that’s not all. The Tor was once surrounded by water and is believed to be the site of the Isle of Avalon. Ten house points if you can guess what famous king is connected with Avalon? Congratulate yourself if you just said ‘Arthur’. Yes. The legendary King Arthur is thought to have been carried here to recover from battle wounds. English folklore will also tell you that he and his queen, Guinevere, are believed to be secretly buried here. And his sword, Excalibur, was forged nearby. Those of you familiar with the dragon books will be spotting all kinds of references in the above. So is the author trying to explain all this or claim that it’s real? No. Like me, he’s just fascinated by places and the stories associated with them. He often mixes them up or plays around with them a little, just to see what comes out. Strangely, he usually finds that dragons had something to do with all the great mysteries of the world…

Today, the Tor is surrounded by marshland. The whole area is only a few metres above sea level. It’s renowned for its wildlife – mainly waterfowl and wetland birds. In the picture, you can see one of the artificial drains that was built to carry water away from the land. At the top of the Tor are the ruins of the old Abbey. There isn’t much to see of it, even if you climb to the summit, but you can see it on every roadside approach and the views from up there are quite spectacular. We like its spiralling ridges (natural, not man-made) which, when viewed from above, look a bit like a dragon lying down with its tail curled around it... Yes, Glastonbury is an amazing location, buzzing with spiritual energy. Apparently, it lies on a ley line connected to Stonehenge. What more can you ask for than that? Stonehenge! Now what might that place have to do with dragons? Hmm… Until next time. Happy reading. Hrrr!

Blog Archive