As I mentioned in the last post I will be posting fairly regularly in the next few weeks to show you my work for the Glastonbury Abbey exhibition “Traces Revealed”
The inspiration for the pieces I made came from the abbey’s precious relics that were once in abundance in medieval times but then lost or destroyed by the Abbey fire and the reformation. Whilst other abbeys successfully moved their relics to safe houses during the reformation, I found very little evidence or traces about the whereabouts of the Glastonbury Abbey relics, so I wondered if the monks had hidden them to keep them safe. Perhaps in hidden hollows under the Tor.
6 magical birds (double headed eagles) keep guard as ‘guardians of the relics.’ They guard King Arthur and Queen Guinevere’s relics, 3 of the abbey’s saint’s relics and a living legend ‘rock star’s’ relics!
The relics are mostly playful analogies, comparing the Catholic tradition of the veneration of relics with modern day trends and the culture of souvenir gifts.
King Arthur’s Relics
In 1191 the monks discovered King Arthur’s and Queen Guinevere’s skeletons buried in the ancient cemetery within Glastonbury Abbey . They knew it was King Arthur because they found a lead cross with writing on it in Latin. Translated it means ‘ Here lies buried the renowned King Arthur in the isle of Avalon’.
In other words …
The monks were quite surprised at the size of King Arthur’s bones, he was a real giant of a man. They noticed his thigh bone (femur is it?) was broken, presumably from his last battle before being laid to rest several hundred years ago in the cemetery. Of course it unmistakeably belonged to Arthur as they noticed his name was written on the bone just like the end of a gift shop stick of rock!
Queen Guinevere’s relics
Then the monks picked up a tress of golden hair still attached to Queen Guinevere’s skull and it turned to dust.
Or did it??
The monks made a black marble tomb for King Arthur’s and Queen Guinevere’s relics (there were various treasures amongst the bones which included the leaden cross, and four lions heads) and invited pilgrims to visit. It was a useful find at a time of impending impoverishment of the abbey.
….come back soon to see the Magical Guardian Bird of these relics ….
or visit the exhibition at Glastonbury Abbey which begins on Saturday 30th September and continues until January 28th 2018