Almesbury, Ambresbury, Aumsbury
According to several sources, such as Sir Thomas Malory, Queen Guenevere came to a nunnery in Amesbury (Amesbury Abbey) when she heard of King Arthur’s death. The chronicles suggest that it was named after Ambrosius, though Layamon says that its founder was Ambrius.
Amesbury | Up to the 10th century AD
The area around Amesbury has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. Evidence of early human activity, including ancient settlements and burial mounds, has been found in the region. The most famous nearby monument, Stonehenge, was constructed during this period.
While Amesbury itself may not have been a major Roman settlement, it was located near the Roman road network that connected various parts of Britain. Roman influence and infrastructure extended into the region, but there is limited evidence of a large Roman presence in Amesbury.
With the decline of the Roman Empire and the onset of the Anglo-Saxon period, the region saw the establishment of Anglo-Saxon settlements. Amesbury is mentioned in historical records of this era as a place of some significance.
Early Christian History and Regional Importance
In the late seventh century, an early Christian church was founded in Amesbury. This indicates the presence of Christianity in the area during the early medieval period. Amesbury’s proximity to Stonehenge likely had some influence on its importance during this time, and it may have served as a point of reference for travelers and pilgrims visiting the ancient monument.
Amesbury Abbey was founded in the tenth century, during the Anglo-Saxon period. It was possibly a Benedictine nunnery. In AD 979 the abbey was succeeded by a nunnery that eventually became one of the richest in England, achieving fame as the retreat of Mary, daughter of King Edward I, and her grandmother, Queen Eleanor, King Henry III’s widow.
Like many monastic institutions in England, Amesbury Abbey was affected by the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the sixteenth century during the reign of King Henry VIII. The abbey was dissolved, and its assets were seized by the crown.
Avon | The Legend of King Arthur
Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138
The Stanzaic Le Morte Arthur | 14th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470
Idylls of the King | Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1859-1886