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Glastonbury Castle

In the civil parish of Glastonbury.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of Somerset.
1974 county of Somerset.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST50013874
Latitude 51.14579° Longitude -2.71575°

Glastonbury Castle has been described as a probable Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Palace.

There are no visible remains.


Henry of Blois, abbot of Glastonbury (1126-71) and bishop of Winchester, left a formidable series of buildings, among them, according to the chronicler Adam of Domerham, 'a certain regal palace, which is called a castle (castellum)'. John of Glastonbury, writing a little later, described it simple as 'a beautiful and spacious palace (palacium)'. It is quite clear from the context of both writers that the building was within the monastic precinct, but the use of the word castellum has lead some to believe that there was a free-standing 'castle' elsewhere in Glastonbury.
Abbot Henry's palace was recognised within the abbey grounds in 1978-9 where its massive wall foundations were exposed by W.J. Wedlake during his excavations of the Abbot's Hall. The surviving footings, incidentally, were covered with a layer of ash, clear trace of the fire which in 1184 destroyed the palace and most of the other standing buildings of the abbey. (Dunning 1995)

{The Abbot's lodgings} could be of exceptional interest but have been little studied. The Abbots' hall, kitchen and gardens lay to the south-west of the Great Church: the kitchen of the latest version of the complex survives. There were at least three successive halls, the first of which may have been the 12th century "castellum" mentioned by the 13th century historian Adam of Domerham. (Gathercole 2003)

Castle built 1127-54. Described as 'quoddam palacium regale, quod vocabatur castellum'. Renn tentatively identifies this with The Mound. PastScape records Abbey but not fortifications. Current Abbey ruins date from rebuild commenced in 1186. It would be possible that the residence of the very wealthy abbot of Glastonbury would be of notable high quality and be built with some martial features to show his dominion over considerable lands and since such landowners did, from time to time, gain the resentment of their tenants some degree of defensibility would have had a practical consideration but this would not be a military base.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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