Sites and places associated with Arthurian legend

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The following is a list and assessment of sites and places associated with King Arthur and the Arthurian legend in general. Given the lack of concrete historical knowledge about one of the most potent figures in British mythology, it is unlikely that any definitive conclusions about the claims for these places will ever be established; nevertheless it is both interesting and important to try to evaluate the body of evidence which does exist and examine it critically. The earliest reference to Arthur is in Aneirin's poem Y Gododdin (c. 594). While his fame may have increased in the intervening years, the facts about his life have become less discernible.

The earliest association with Arthur of many of the places listed is often surprisingly recent, with most southern sites' association based on nothing more than the toponymic speculations of recent authors with a local prejudice to promote.

Burial places[edit]

  • Amidst the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey are tombstones claiming to mark the final resting place of Arthur and Gwynevere. Glastonbury, which was once surrounded by water, is believed by some to be the Isle of Avalon, the place where the dying Arthur was destined to be healed; if this is the case, it follows that Arthur would be brought to the abbey to receive medical attention. However, Arthur's wounds were fatal, and therefore he was buried near the abbey, south of the Lady Chapel.[1] It is said that in the 12th century, monks who wanted to raise money for the abbey dug up two sets of bones (presumably Arthur's and Gwynevere's) from that location and moved them into the abbey in order to attract pilgrims. The bones were supposedly unearthed within a large oak coffin inscribed with the words, "Here lies Arthur buried in Avalon." [2]

Arthur's courts[edit]

The following are real places which are clearly identifible in a text and which are mentioned in Arthurian legend and romance as being used by Arthur as a place to hold a court. In the romances Arthur, like all medieval monarchs, moves around his kingdom.

Unidentified sites[edit]

Camelot[edit]

Main article: Camelot

Various places which have been identified as the location of Camelot, including many of those listed above. Others include:

  • Tintagel Castle, Tintagel, Cornwall. Also the home of Merlins Cave.
  • Winchester is specifically described as being Camelot in Thomas Malory.
  • Camelon, near Falkirk, which was spelled Camelo prior to the 19th century.
  • Cadbury Castle hill fort, referred to as a location for Camelot by John Leland in 1542. "At the very south end of the church of South-Cadbyri standeth Camallate, sometime a famous town or castle. . .The people can tell nothing there but that they have heard Arthur much resorted to Camalat...". A well on the ascent is known locally as Arthur's Well; the highest part of the hill is known as Arthur's Palace, these names being recorded as early as the late 16th century.
  • Colchester, a town in Essex, England (or its Roman antecedent Camulodunum) has been cited as one of the potential sites of Camelot. Though the name "Camelot" may be derived from Camulodunum (modern Colchester), the Iron Age capital of the Trinovantes, and later the provincial capital of Roman Britannia, its Essex location close to the east coast - and so very close to the earliest Anglo-Saxon settlement - places it in the wrong Anglo-Saxon kingdom.
  • The ex-Roman fort of Camboglanna on Hadrian's Wall
  • Campus Elleti in Glamorgan
  • Caerwent
  • Camelford in Cornwall
  • Camaret in Brittany
  • Camelon Fort at Falkirk
  • Saltwell Park, in Gateshead
  • Viroconium
  • Chard, Somerset
  • Graig-Llwyn near Lisvane
  • Camlet Moat near Trent Park, by Enfield Chase, London
  • Slack, near Huddersfield, Like Colchester, the Romans had a fort named Camulodunum there.
  • Cadbury Camp
  • Roxburgh Castle in the Scottish Borders, proposed by Alistair Moffat in his work 'Arthur and the Lost Kingdoms'.
  • Chester Castle in Chester

Avalon[edit]

Main article: Avalon

A possible location of Avalon consistent with the theory of a northern Arthur, is the Roman fort of Aballava. Aballava, also called Avallana, was at the western end of Hadrian's Wall near the modern settlement of Burgh-by-Sands, Cumbria.

Reputed Arthurian battle sites[edit]

Twelve of Arthur's battles were recorded by Nennius in Historia Brittonum.

Places with other associations to Arthurian legend[edit]

See also[edit]

Tintagel Castle is a 13th Century construct whereas the Arthurian legends refer to the post-Roman/early Saxon era of the mid 5th Century making the two completely unrelated.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "King Arthur & Avalon". Glastonbury Abbey. Glastonbury Abbey & Happy Hare Media. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "History and Archaeology". Glastonbury Abbey. Glastonbury Abbey & Happy Hare Media. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Bruce, Christopher (1999). "Sicily". In The Arthurian Name Dictionary. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-8153-2865-6. Retrieved 24 May 2010.

External links[edit]