This is a complex issue and the explanation may not be apparent but is part of the reasoning why certain scholars with vested interests in maintaining the existing corpus of knowledge about ‘Geoffrey’ intact are unwilling to accept Henry Blois as the composer of HRB, the prophecies etc and have the effrontery to call me mad!!!
Henry Blois is making an implication that Thanet is near to the implied Island of Alaron or Avalon. He wishes his audience to conflate the two stating ’Close to this island lies Thanet’. I think considering Henry Blois’ objective throughout, which is to construe the Island of Avalon as being located at Glastonbury, we should understand his mind…. for this on the surface just seems an ill-informed statement ‘Near to this island lies Thanet’. Henry Blois knows perfectly well where Thanet is, so why would he state contrary to Isedore that Thanet is near Alaron? Henry Blois, as we have seen, is the master of conflation.
I understand his way of thinking and his intention is clearly that; from Badon we are to assume Alaron as commensurate. There are only three traditions or accounts concerning Joseph of Arimathea which are not from later Glastonbury propaganda. The first is that Melkin’s prophecy states that Joseph is buried on the Island of Avalon and gives accurate directions to his burial site, a remarkable achievement for a man that never existed. The second is that Father Good makes the statement that Joseph is ‘carefully hidden in Montacute’. Thirdly, Joseph of Arimathea is held by Cornish tradition to be a tin merchant.
Although we can see that Henry Blois has taken a section from Isidore in VM, the names of Isidore’s first three Islands, Thanet, the Orkneys and Ultima Thule, come from a Journal of a voyage made by Pytheas. The island of Ictis as described by Diodorus from the lost works of Pytheas was an Island to which tin was transported in large quantities by cart across a tidal sand spit. By coincidence the island which Melkin’s directions lead to in his prophecy concerning the Island of Avalon, fits Diodorus’ description as that which accords with Ictis.
Another coincidence is this same island would also seem to be that donated by a Devonian King to Glastonbury in 601AD called Ines Witrin recorded in a charter by William of Malmesbury. Does it not seem strange that Henry Blois (who we know is the inventor of Avalon) invents Alaron as a name which links back to Badon and Arthur and implies it is next to Thanet, given the Pytheas connection.
Henry Blois writing as Geoffrey of Monmouth had no idea where the Island of Ineswitrin was. Therefore, it became his design to locate it at Glastonbury, both on account of it being Arthur’s last known location and the fact that Joseph of Arimathea was buried there (since the substitution of Ineswitrin for Avalon was made on the Melkin prohecy. This is Henry attempting to substantiate his own island invention and its position relative to a known location. It indicates he does not know the location of Ineswitrin, but he knows the location is real, just as he knows the 601 charter is real.
Henry Blois’ motive for writing the section on islands in VM is how he first associated Glasonbury with Avalon by calling it Insula Pomorum. It is clear how he manipulates the original text to suit that goal. He leaps from Bladud and his association to Badon to Alaron and from there to Insula Pomorum where wounded Arthur was taken. Henry Blois is keen to have us believe Thanet is near Alaron. The reason why Henry should make the association of Thanet to Alaron; and the reason we should be suspicious of it being connected to Pytheas’ Island of Ictis, is due to what follows immediately after the mention of Thanet in the VM: Our ocean also divides the Orkneys from us. These are divided into thirty-three islands by the sundering flood; twenty lack cultivation and the others are cultivated. Thule receives its name “furthest” from the sun, because of the solstice which the summer sun makes there, turning its rays and shining no further, and taking away the day, so that always throughout the long night the air is full of shadows, and making a bridge congealed by the benumbing cold, which prevents the passage of ships.
In Pytheas book, the contents of which Diodorus relates (because Pytheas’ book is no longer extant), Pytheas was the first to mention the Orkneys, Thule, and ‘pack ice’. Certainly, Isidore sourced his information from Pytheas which came through Diodorus or some previous commentator on Pytheas like Polybius or Timaus.
Isidore writes: Thanet is an island in the Ocean in the Gallic (i.e. English) channel, separated from Britannia by a narrow estuary, with fruitful fields and rich soil. It is named Thanet (Tanatos) from the death of serpents. Although the island itself is unacquainted with serpents, if soil from it is carried away and brought to any other nation, it kills snakes there. Ultima Thule (Thyle ultima) is an island of the Ocean in the north western region, beyond Britannia, taking its name from the sun, because there the sun makes its summer solstice, and there is no daylight beyond (ultra) this. Hence its sea is sluggish and frozen. The Orkneys (Orcades) are islands of the Ocean within Britannia, numbering thirty-three, of which twenty are uninhabited and thirteen colonized. Ireland (Scotia), also known as Hibernia, is an island next to Britannia, narrower in its expanse of land but more fertile in its site. It extends from southwest to north. Its near parts stretch towards Iberia (Hiberia) and the Cantabrian Ocean (i.e. the Bay of Biscay), whence it is called Hibernia; but it is called Scotia, because it has been colonized by tribes of the Scoti. There no snakes are found, birds are scarce, and there are no bees, so that if someone were to sprinkle dust or pebbles brought from there among beehives in some other place, the swarms would desert the honeycombs.
It is I believe Thanet’s association with Ictis which has attracted Henry’s attention as Henry thought it was an island from which tin was traded. Henry may have been aware of the tradition of Joseph of Arimathea as a tin Merchant as he had taken possession of Looe Island in 1144 in his hunt for the relics of Joseph of Arimathea. The fact that Joseph of Arimathea was buried on an Island called Ineswitrin in the original Melkin prophecy, is the reason Arthur’s bones ended up on the mystical island of Avalon and is the reason for Henry’s seemingly random tract on the various Islands.
Although Thanet is mentioned by Isedore of Seville, Henry Blois’ personal injection is adiacet huic- it lies near here, near Alaron, which shows he is leading us to some other motive other than just a re-work of Isedore. It is not as if Henry Blois does not know where Thanet is located geographically which is certainly not near Kaerbadon. It is for this reason he is keen on splicing in his hidden agenda which appears to beTaliesin sounding forth with Island Mythology. Henry’s main objective is to conflate Avalon with Glastonbury and he achieves this by conflation with other island legends of the Fortunate isles. He changes Isidore’s order, of islands reversing the positions of Thule and the Orkneys and he exposes his devise as he also reverses the order of the “Gorgades” and the Fortunate Isles. He has now renamed the Island where Arthur was taken in the HRB called the Island of Avalon and has led his audience to believe Insula Pomorum as the same. He conflates an older island legend of the Fortunate Isles with Glastonbury Tor.
Also, by splicing in the fact that Merlin’s madness also stems from apples he completes the illusory transposition of Avalon to Insula Pomorum. Taliesin supposedly saying he went ‘with’ Barinthus to Insula Pomorum with Arthur leaves no doubt that the Avalon of the HRB needed to be relocated at Glastonbury. Henry the master of conflation helps us on our way to Glastonbury with the names of the sisters Glitonea, Gliten, Giton.