London: the British Museum, Buckingham, Westminster, Piccadilly, Bloomsbury, double-decker buses, the ‘Tube’, general sightseeing and gathering of research materials. Then on to…
Salisbury: The ever-mysterious Stonehenge (we’ll walk inside the stone circle); Old Sarum, an awe-inspiring Roman hill-fort; Salisbury Cathedral, the tallest in England (we’ll ascend the spire); Avebury, a BIG stone circle and megalithic processional road, gate-posted by Silbury Hill (the largest prehistoric human-made mound in Europe) and the West Kennet Long Barrow (a portal to the Underworld).
Cornwall: Penzance (with pirates), Tintagel castle (Arthur’s birthplace), King Arthur’s Great Halls, Land’s End, the otherworldly St. Nectan’s Glen, and the giant-hurled island-castle St. Michael’s Mount.
Glastonbury: Here all of the themes of the course come together. Glastonbury Tor dominates the landscape for miles: capped by a tower dedicated to St. Michael, who is said to have slain a dragon and buried it there. The Tor has been identified by many as the original Isle of Avalon to which King Arthur was ferried by three otherworldly ladies to be healed of his mortal wounds. Nearby is the Iron-Age hill-fort of Camelot, Arthur’s castle. Next to the Tor is Merlin’s Hill, said to be the burial spot of the Holy Grail. Nestled between Merlin’s Hill and the Tor is the Chalice Garden, which includes the Lion’s Head Fountain and the Chalice Well, whose mythical source is the buried Grail. In historical legend the Grail was borne by Joseph of Arimathea, who landed at the whale-shaped Wearyall Hill, where he planted his staff, which grew into a thorn tree, the first blossom of which is traditionally brought to the Queen every year. In the center of town, between the Tor and Merlin’s Hill and Wearyall, stand the timeless ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, the first Christian church in Europe, founded (same legends) by Joseph of Arimathea. The controversial corpses of Arthur and Guinevere were exhumed on the Abbey grounds in the twelfth century. Traditionally we are guided through the Abbey by famed Arthurian historian and friend Geoffrey Ashe, MBE. Finally, we’ll call on two old friends: Gog and Magog, a pair of 2,000 year old oak trees.