1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Avalon

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AVALON (also written Avallon, Avollon, Avilion and Avelion), in Welsh mythology the kingdom of the dead, afterwards an earthly paradise in the western seas, and finally, in the Arthurian romances, the abode of heroes to which King Arthur was conveyed after his last battle. In Welsh the name is Ynys yr Afallon, usually interpreted “Isle of Apples,” but possibly connected with the Celtic tradition of a king over the dead named Avalloc (in Welsh Afallach). If the traditional derivation is correct, the name is derived from the Welsh afal, an apple, and, as no other large fruit was well known to the races of northern Europe, is probably intended to symbolize the feasting and enjoyments of elysium. Other forms of the name are Ynysvitrin and Ynysgutrin, “Isle of Glass”—which appear to be identical with Glasberg, the Teutonic kingdom of the dead. Perhaps owing to a confusion between Glasberg or Ynysvitrin and the Anglo-Saxon Glaestinga-burh, Glastonbury, the name “Isle of Avalon” was given to the low ridge in central Somersetshire which culminates in Glastonbury Tor, while Glastonbury itself came to be called Avalon. Attempts have also been made to identify Avalon with other places in England and Wales.

See Studies in the Arthurian Legend, by J. Rhys (Oxford, 1891); also Arthur (King); Atlantis.