John Leland, the 16th century expert on Arthurian legend, identified the bridge between Street and Glastonbury as the place where King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was cast into a lake. Archaeological work has confirmed that in the early medieval period a bridge and lake really did actually exist in that very location.
The bridge over the River Brue, and its associated stone causeway, were created sometime between c. AD 650-780, at a time when Glastonbury Abbey acquired large landholdings on the Polden Hills near Street. It lasted until its replacement by a new bridge in the 12th century, which itself was replaced in the 19th century.
The early bridge and causeway had been built on the upstream side of a shallow lake. The memory of these ancient features no doubt inspired the link to the legend of Excalibur and the site ‘wher men fable that Arture cast in his Swerd‘ as John Leland recorded.
REF: Brunning, R. 2010. Taming the floodplain: River canalisation and causeway formation in the Middle Anglo-saxon period at Glastonbury, Somerset. Medieval Archaeology, 54, 319-328
Very interesting. I am curious as to the source and artist of the painting shown above with the caption “Looking from the lake to the bridge and causeway. (P. Lorimer)”. Can you tell me who the artist is? (I googled P. Lorimer, and didn’t get much) And/or where this painting is or where you got the image? I love it.
The artist is Peter Lorimer who is an exceedingly talented archaeological illustrator. The picture was commissioned by us to illustrate the archaeological findings
Are you able to share additional information about the archaeological work which confirms this? Were the findings published in a peer-reviewed journal or is all of this still speculation? Thanks 🙂
I love the painting above showing the bridge from the lake credited to P. Lorimer. Can you tell me who this artist is, or where the photo of the painting came from, or where the painting is? I love it. And didn’t find anything googling.
For more of Peter Lorimer’s work visit http://www.pighill.net/
The archaeological evidence for the lake, bridge and causeway is published in two publications;
Brunning, R. 2010. Taming the floodplain: River canalisation and causeway formation in the Middle Anglo-saxon period at Glastonbury, Somerset. Medieval Archaeology, 54, 319-328
Brunning, R. 2013. Somerset’s Peatland Archaeology. Managing and investigating a fragile resource. Oxbow Books.
Neither of these mention Leland or his thoughts connecting the spot with the King Arthur legend.
Does this theory trump “slaughter bridge” and Dozmary pool on Bodmin Moor???
A matter of opinion I suppose. This archaeological evidence just provides more reasons why the local legend that Leland recorded may have chosen that particular spot.