Glastonbury is a town and civil parish in the Mendip district, Somerset, England, situated at a dry point on the low-lying Somerset Levels, 23 miles (37 km) south of Bristol. Glastonbury is less than 1 mile (2 km) across the River Brue from the town of Street, which is now larger than Glastonbury.
Evidence from timber track-ways such as the Sweet Track show that the town has been inhabited since Neolithic times. Glastonbury Lake Village was an Iron Age village, close to the old course of the River Brue and Sharpham Park approximately 2 miles (3 km) west of Glastonbury, that dates back to the Bronze Age. Centwine was the first Saxon patron of Glastonbury Abbey, which dominated the town for the next 700 years. One of the most important abbeys in England, it was the site of Edmund Ironside's coronation as King of England in 1016. Many of the oldest surviving buildings in the town, including the Tribunal, George Hotel and Pilgrims' Inn and the Somerset Rural Life Museum, which is based at the site of a 14th century abbey manor barn, often referred to as a tithe barn, are associated with the abbey. The Church of St John the Baptist dates from the 15th century.
The town became a centre for commerce, which led to the construction of the market cross, Glastonbury Canal and the Glastonbury and Street railway station, the largest station on the original Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. The Brue Valley Living Landscape is a conservation project managed by the Somerset Wildlife Trust and nearby is the Ham Wall National Nature Reserve.
Glastonbury has been described as having a New Age community, and possibly being where New Age beliefs originated at the turn of the twentieth century, where Christianity had ‘first touched Britain’, and which attracts people with New Age and Neo-pagan beliefs, and is notable for myths and legends often related to Glastonbury Tor, concerning Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail and King Arthur. Joseph is said to have arrived in Glastonbury and stuck his staff into the ground, when it flowered miraculously into the Glastonbury Thorn. The presence of a landscape zodiac around the town has been suggested but no evidence has been discovered. The Glastonbury Festival, held in the nearby village of Pilton, takes its name from the town.
Glastonbury has a population of over 8,932 people.