The Glastonbury Festival and the archaeology of Somerset

In about a week-and-a-half’s time the equivalent population of a reasonably sized city will descend on our fair county of Somerset for the Glastonbury Festival. The first festival was held on the 19th September 1970 - the day after Jimi Hendrix died - over a two day period. Acts included  Marc Bolan, Keith Christmas, Stackridge, Al Stewart & Quintessence. The attendance was an impressive 1,500 and it cost a pound to get in (the price included free milk from Worthy Farm). Forty three years on and the festival has itself become an important piece of Somerset’s – and the UK’s – social and cultural heritage. Not all heritage has to be ancient!

That said, all of the hundreds of thousands who attend this year’s festival will be listening to bands, camping letting their hair down, literally and figuratively (and the rest!) in an area whose rich cultural legacy stretches back many thousands of years. This cultural heritage is reflected in the archaeological record of the county – from the Mesolithic ‘Cheddar Man’ (c. 7150 BCE), through a stunning piece of Neolithic infrastructure known as the ‘Sweet Track’ (c. 3807-3806 BCE), a Roman occupation, grand religious centres (Glastonbury and Bath Abbeys, for example), Dissolution, Revolution (Civil War and Pitchfork or Monmouth Rebellion)…I could go on for a long time.

The point is that our history is all around us – reflected in the buildings we use and live in, the landscape we see every day (ancient and modern), churches and ancient farms, wind turbines and solar farms all reflect our changing needs as a society.

 As archaeologists, this is what we at Armour Heritage seek to explore, increasing our understanding of the past to better shape our future.

Posted on June 14, 2013 .