A Medieval Cart Track with Tarmac: Review
This modest book is very thought-provoking, particularly in the context of further road building proposals around Glastonbury. The medieval cart track in the title refers to the section of the A361 that passes from Havyatt through Coursing Batch and Chilkwell Street. Presumably, the roadworks that repeatedly take place on that section of road are testament to the poor quality of the road. The original road into Glastonbury ran much lower down, nearer the foot of the Tor, through Lower Edgarley and along part of Cinnamon Lane.
There was only one road that led to Glastonbury as it was otherwise an island and a place of pilgrimage. The Isle of Avalon was a destination, not a place to pass through on the way to somewhere else. The entrance to the sacred isle is still marked by the ridge of Ponters Ball out at Havyatt; this is an undated earthwork that could be Iron Age or Bronze Age, and it lies either side of the main road.
During the long period this book covers, the building of roads into Glastonbury is mostly a history of reluctant funding, poor planning and incompetent building. My enjoyment of this book was at times worrying and I recommend it to those who do not have a natural affinity to wearing anoraks, in order to widen your horizons.
Bruce has a blog about the current road building proposals at www.unique-publications.co.uk/newsblog/glastonbury-southern-bypass-proposal, which everyone should be reading. Supporters of a new road are using the results of a very flawed survey in Glastonbury. However, it is doubtful that residents' opinions will have much influence on the outcome, as the new road proposals are driven by a national road network plan which does not have Glastonbury as a destination, but rather as somewhere to be bypassed. And if the plans go ahead, then we will get to watch more traffic from the top of the Tor, which does not seem a desirable outcome.
Mike Jones, Glastonbury Oracle