The Somerset Levels were drained from the 1600s onwards. Before this, they were wetland marshes with soggy woodlands, seasonally flooded reed beds and open lakes and pools - in most occasions best accessed by boat.
In ancient to medieval times, the River Brue flowed north from Glastonbury past the Glastonbury Lake Village and Godney, through the Bleadney Gap below Panborough Hill, and then past Martinsey, Andrewsey (Nyland Hill), Cheddar and then Brent Knoll, meeting the sea at Brean Down - after which there was another significant island, Steep Holm. This meant that, at that time, Martinsey was located on the route from Glastonbury to the Severn Sea or Bristol Channel.

Glastonbury had strong river and sea connections therefore with Wales, Cornwall and Ireland, and traffic between them - including the travels of Saints Patrick, Bridget and David - passed by Martinsey.

Earlier than this, the Roman-period and Celtic (Iron Age) period lead trade between the Mendips and the Mediterranean brought trading boats from far away, bringing with them olive oil, wines and goods from Greece and Rome.

In those days lead was an important resource, and the region was thus economically and strategically of some importance.

If the traditions of the visits of Joseph of Arimathaea and the young Jesus are correct, then there is a good chance they followed this route to Avalon, visiting Martinsey.

In the early Christian period, before the arrival of Augustine and the spread of the Roman church throughout Saxon England, Martinsey served as an island retreat and chapel for the cult of St Martin in the 300s and the cult of St Guthlac in the 600s.

Nowadays, Martinsey looks like an unimpressive bump in the otherwise flat land of Knowle Moor, and the current River Axe, passing by, is but a shadow of its former self as the original River Brue.

Today it is the Martinsey Isle Trust's gate point from which a proposed world heritage site of spiritual and cultural values may grow.
Where, why and how?
Proper public access to the former island and its remaining ruined building does not exist. Permission must be given by the present owner before access is granted, and we urge everyone to respect his privacy by not seeking this.
The Martinsey Isle Trust aims to either to purchase or to support the preservation of Martinsey and Lidney. It seeks to draw attention to these as two of a series of seven former islands connected with Glastonbury: Glastonbury itself, Beckery (Bride's Mound), Godney, Panborough, Martinsey, Lidney and Nyland (Andrewsey).

The Trust aims to present them as a key part of the national and cultural heritage of Britain, and to develop a future conservation plan for a world heritage site of spiritual benefit.

The Martinsey Isle Trust enthuses an appreciation of Glastonbury and its Moorland Islands Ė all are the Spiritual Centres, now dislocated by economic partition.

The Trust has bought two small pieces of precious land - one for a proposed burial site and one for remembrance and celebration (both subject to planning permission and a great deal of work by the Trust). In time it will attempt to buy Martinsey and Lidney, to build a fresh-thinking spiritual theatre for Britainís true source of Christian origins of the 1st century AD - while recognising the eternal debt to earlier faiths.

Funding for future land purchase, and its management (at present the Trust is entirely self-funding) will, the Trust envisages, come partly from burial.
The success and fruition of this dream for a spiritual national heritage plan depends also upon others finding this idea attractive and feasible. If sufficient people express a similar interest, a meeting - either virtual via the web or actual in Glastonbury - will be called so that together we may decide how best to proceed to provide a future resource programme for land purchase and integrity to these spiritual aims of the Trust:

  • the purchase of the islands;
  • the fulfilling of the world spiritual heritage trust;
  • the future research of our nationís spiritual heritage;
  • the spiritual homecoming and acceptance of the Somerset heartland - a choice for the nationís spiritual growth, advocated by earlier tradition.

If you are among these, please send your details to the Martinsey Isle Trust.
or contact David Wasley, who holds the vision for this island and takes responsibility for our land held in trust, on 01494 773712 or email
The Somerset Levels
The Somerset Levels
The Somerset Levels
River Axe at Martinsey
Panborough Hill
Nyland Hill - Andrewsey
Panborough Hill
The Martinsey Isle Trust and the Glaston Rose Humane Company Creating an idyll of Martinsey and Lidney Islands Natural Burial honouring life's sacred thresholds
The Martinsey Isle Trust was co-founded in 2002 by David Wasley, its inspiration, and Judith Pidgeon, its grounder

The Martinsey Isle Trust - Ivy Cottage - Bath Road - Sturminster Newton - Dorset - DT10 1DU - UK - Telephone: 01258 475 125
Registered Charity Number : 1135600
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