Bride’s Mound Revisited

People coming to Glastonbury to see the famous landmarks may be excused for thinking that the Abbey, Chalice Well and the Tor are all there is as the Tourist Office says little to nothing about the smaller sacred spots. However the area should be viewed as a whole as the many minor sites are important for the understanding of the place. One such site is Bride’s Mound, officially known as Beckery Island, the highest point on a low ridge running behind the Moorlands area (currently involved in various development schemes) down to the banks of the River Brue. There is evidence of an ancient walkway here, a special feature of the Somerset Levels.

In the past, Bride’s Mound was one of two ‘gateways’ onto the island, as it lay near the causeway between what is now Street and Glastonbury. Excavation of the site showed that a small chapel stood on what is believed to have been an earlier non-Christian shrine. The chapel was first dedicated to Mary Magdalene and then to the Irish Saint Brigid when it probably became a convent. There is well a documented connection between people living in this site and people in Ireland, and many stories can be found about St Brigid. She left her bell and other items, and tradition also tells of a healing well on the mound and a perpetual fire like the one burning in Kildare. Tradition also says that King Arthur received a powerful vision at Beckery that led to his victories. The chapel has now vanished from the surface and the place has been neglected for many years. The mound itself is difficult to find, and is not publicly accessible. However, locals continue to go there and enjoy the fire energies of the place.

Ten years ago a local group was formed to protect the mound as it was felt that plans for the area did not have a true understanding of the sacred or the historical significance of Beckery. ‘Friends of Bride’s Mound’ has successfully prevented every attempt to build on the field that contains the mound. They have ensured some level of protection, and are working on having the area declared a nature reserve as the habitat of a rather rare water-beetle. They have also funded a non-intrusive archaeological survey. The aim of ‘Friends of Bride’s Mound’ is to own and gently take care of the mound and surrounding area.

They plan to cover it in flowering herbs instead of nettles and bramble, to re-install the well and the perpetual fire, and to open it up to people of all denominations (faiths) to enjoy for leisure or to use for ceremony. Presently, the ‘Friends of Bride’s Mound’ are working on a management plan and are raising money to be ready to buy the site should it come available. This past summer, the ‘Friends of Bride’s Mound’ in co-operation with Kathy Jones of the Goddess festival, had the great pleasure of hosting a visit to Bride’s Mound by two nuns of the Brigandine Order of Kildare, Sister Mary and Sister Rhita. The sisters brought with them the Sacred Perpetual Flame of St Brigid, relit in the last century and tended by them in their small refuge at Kildare. The strength and gentleness of the Sisters and the presence of the Flame provided a moving experience for everyone involved. The event is a symbol that the Spiritual Flame of Bride’s Mound is now again alive and burning its way into people’s hearts.

Imbolic on Bride's Mound
Imbolic on Bride's Mound large photo

Bride's Mound view
Bride's Mound view large photo

Bride's Mound with Lone
Bride's Mound with Lone large photo
–Lone Bang,
Chalice Well Gatehouse Volunteer.

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