Big–and shocking–news in the world of legend and fantasy today. The Glastonbury Thorn, which according to legend was planted by Joseph of Arimathea himself, has been cut down by vandals. Various motives have been suggested. The second most shocking thing in the article, to me, is that apparently the tree enjoyed no legal protection whatever, and even if those responsible are identified, nothing is likely to happen to them.

Who knew the only legal act left in hyper-regulated England is to destroy a national treasure?

The legend of the thorn is that Joseph of Arimathea (identified as the uncle of Jesus) was a tin merchant who voyaged frequently to England (bringing Jesus with him once; hence the hymn “England's Mountains Green”). While there he thrust his thorn staff into the earth one day, and it budded like Aaron's rod and took root. For centuries it was revered by pilgrims to Glastonbury (a famous Arthurian site), until Oliver Cromwell's men chopped it down. But the roots were saved, and nurtured by the faithful. The tree which stood there till now was cultivated from one of those roots. One hopes the same sort of thing can be done again.

What's intriguing is that the Glastonbury thorn is indeed an exotic. It's not a native English tree. It's been identified as a Middle Eastern variety.