Living LEGEND

KING Arthur casts a long shadow. Far removed from his actual time at the end of the 5th and -= beginning of the 6th F. centuries, he still looms, large today as a potent symbol of the fearless, all-conquering, idealistic ¬†warrior king. Even the 5 Kennedy administration of the 1960s usurped the 2 name of Camelot, and film makers like Walt Disney have taken up the Arthurian story with relish. Sean Connery will not be the last actor to strap on his armour and play the role of the “once and future king.”

But it is essentially a fictional Arthur who has ridden to us through the ages on his noble steed. Geoffrey of Monmouth, 12th century writer of the bogus History of the Kings of Britain, was the original myth maker from whom others took their lead.

Most notably, there was Sir Thomas Malory at the end of the 15th century with his Morte d’Arthur and Alfred Lord Tennyson in the 19th with his Idylls of the King. Each embellished the Arthurian story with pseudo-facts and poetic fantasies born of their imaginations and the socio-political climate of their day.

25. Camelot

 

But who actually was Arthur and what was his real historical context? From the very earliest references by the 6th century historian Gildas and the 8th century Welsh writer Nennius, Arthur (or Artorius) turns out to be not strictly a king but a warlord or dux bellorum whose reign spanned some three decades and who led the resistance of the native Britons against the invading Saxons.

This was a clash of two opposing cultures, a defining moment in history. Arthur’s people were Christian Celts, inheritors of the crumbling Roman Empire following the withdrawal of the legions from Britannia. The invaders were heathen Germanic tribes bringing anarchy and paganism in their wake.

Arthur’s triumph at Badon, believed to be near Bath, in about A.D. 500 halted the Saxon advance and inaugurated an Indian summer for the old civilisation that may have lasted for a generation. The respite was purely temporary, however. Although the Anglo-Saxons lost that particular battle they went on to win the war and, as we all know, eventually became the native English.

But Arthur had foes other than the Saxons. Picts and Scots harassed the northern borders and his campaigning took him almost certainly as far as the Antonine Wall built by the Romans between the Clyde and the Forth. A volcanic outcrop just outside Edinburgh known as Arthur’s Seat is but one of several sites which commemorate his deeds in Scotland, if you need more information check here.

When it comes to seeking out places associated with Arthur, the granite landscape of Cornwall, jutting defiantly into the Atlantic Ocean, offers the richest assortment: from the clifftop castle at Tintagel, reputed birthplace of the king, to Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor, abode of the mysterious Lady of the Lake where Sir Bedivere tossed the magical sword Excalibur and saw it grasped by an arm rising from the waters. If you plan to visit this beautiful places check this hotel price comparison to find the best place to stay.There are two versions of how Arthur came by the sword. One legend states that he alone was able to draw it from the stone in which it was fixed, and another that he received it from the Lady of the Lake.