The landscape around Glastonbury has undergone immense changes throughout human history. This is because the large flooded area west of Glastonbury has gradually been drained, by both natural means. It began as shallow sea some 7,000 years ago, gradually turning to freshwater wetlands. The arrival of sand dunes on the west coast of Somerset, helped by the Romans through the planting of Mediterranean dune-loving species, helped separate sea and wetland.
The monks of Glastonbury Abbey oversaw the cutting of a canal west from Glastonbury, which became the re-routed River Brue, helped drain the area. Before this, the Brue flowed north from Glastonbury, joining what is now the River Axe. But serious drainage and clearance of the wetland woodlands (alder carr), to make dry pastureland, took place only from the 1600s onwards (following a disastrous tsunami which inundated the whole Severn estuary in 1607). During the 20th Century the Somerset Levels were pastureland serving mainly the beef industry - a relative desert which depleted the function of the Levels as an international bird-migratory stopover on the Atlantic seaboard. In the 1980s-1990s conservationists won a long-standing battle to raise water-levels somewhat, so that the pastureland could become soggy meadowland. Also industrial peat-digging was adapted to create pools in the peatlands, for migrating and wading birds and water-loving creatures such as otters.
Mid-Somerset, the area around Glastonbury, was rich in megalithic sites big and small. These are shown on the map here. This map was first researched, hand-drawn and published by Palden Jenkins in 1982. It went out of print by the end of the 80s. The author, during the 1990s, was occupied with other things but, by 2000, decided to publish a second edition. This required new fieldwork and redesigning the map on computer. The new map will be published on paper in large format during springtime 2005.
Ley lines, alignments, sacred hills, glastonbury tor, wetlands, medieval churches, great circle lines, tumps, burial chambers, standing stones, stone circles, ancient trackways, geomancy, geomantic, dowsing.