Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Complete King Arthur

Few legends have had the enduring influence of those surrounding King Arthur. Many believe the stories are based on historical truth. For others Arthur represents the archetype of the brilliant monarch reigning over a fairy-tale kingdom, offering his knights the opportunity to prove their mettle in battle and find gnostic illumination through initiation into sacred mysteries like that of the Grail.

John and Caitlín Matthews have been studying the Arthurian legends and their background for more than 40 years. Recognised authorities on myths and legends of the Celtic tradition, they are the prolific authors of more than one hundred books on myth, faery, the Arthurian Legends and Grail Studies, including 'Arthur of Albion', 'The Arthurian Tradition', 'The Grail Tradition', 'The Grail Seeker’s Companion', 'Merlin: Shaman, Prophet, Magician', 'Taliesin: The Last Celtic Shaman', 'Sir Gawain, Knight of the Goddess', 'King Arthur's Raid on the Underworld'.

Their latest book "The Complete King Arthur: Many Faces, One Hero" presents the culmination of those many years of research in the Arthurian legend, in which the authors examine the historical and mythological evidence for every major theory about the existence of Arthur, piecing together the many fragments that constitute his image.

This new book promises to be a comprehensive examination of the historical and mythological evidence for every major theory about King Arthur, examining 1,800 years of evidence for Arthur’s life and the famous series of 12 battles fought against the Saxons in the 6th century.

In the "The Complete King Arthur" the Matthews' reconstruct the history of 6th century Britain, the period when the first references to Arthur and the core events of his reign appear. The book will explore the history of every Arthur candidate and the geographical arguments that have placed him in different locations,

Examining other literary figures from the 5th century such as Vortigern and Ambrosius, the authors also break down the plots of all the major Arthurian romances, including those by Chretien de Troyes, Sir Thomas Malory, and Robert de Boron, to reveal the historical events they are based on.


Arthur of the Battles 

"So where did Arthur of the Battles originate? There is a poem in the Book of Taliesin that gives us a clue to his antecedents and makes powerful sense. Already mentioned in chapter 1, where it has been seen as complementary evidence for the Roman origins of Arthur, “Kadeir Teyrnon” may also support the antecedents of a fifth-century northern Arthur. The poem discusses the ruler of Britain as a man born and bred on the Wall as well as one militarily qualified to its supervision. 

Declare the clear ode 
In inspiration’s own metre: 
A man sprung of two authors, 
Of a cavalry wing’s steel. 
His spear and his wisdom, 
His judicious course, 
His kingly sovereignty 
His assault over the Wall, 
His rightful seat Amongst the defenders of the Wall. . . . 

From the slaughter of chieftains, 
From the destruction of armies, 
From the loricated legion, 
Sprang the Guledic, 
Around the fierce old boundary.4

The “fierce old boundary” is none other than Hadrian’s Wall (see plate 3). This poem suggests a man who was born either of native stock and Roman lineage or perhaps one who is half-native and half-foreigner; we might take our pick from the men of Rheged, the Gododdin, or of Pictish or Dalriadan origin, which might help explain from whence the name “Arthur” was first introduced."

The Complete King Arthur: Many Faces, One Hero by John and Caitlín Matthews is due publication by Inner Traditions in April 2017.

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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

St Brigid's Cross

Imbolc, synonymous with Saint Brigid's Day, is celebrated annually on 1st February. One of the four major seasonal festivals along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain, Imbolc is one of the oldest feasts celebrating the arrival of spring in Celtic mythology. Since the earliest of times Imbolc has been associated with the goddess Brigid, the goddess of the dawn.

Imbolc is thought to have been significant in Ireland since the Neolithic period as attested by the alignment of some Megalithic monuments.

The illumination of the passage and chamber by the sunrise on the winter solstice at the Neolithic passage tomb at Newgrange is world famous. Similar solar alignments can be found at many other passage tombs.

Significant that at Newgrange it is only the light that enters through the light box above the main passage entrance that reaches the back of the chamber. Recently Michael Gibbons has claimed that the light box was “fabricated” during reconstruction by Michael O’Kelly in the 1960s. But when considered with solar alignments at other passage tombs in Ireland this claim seems nonsensical.

Today celebrated on 1st February, Imbolc is considered to mark a Cross Quarter Day indicating the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, astronomically calculated to fall between the 2nd & 7th of February.

At the 5,000 year old Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara the rising sun at Imbolc enters the passageway and illuminates the chamber.

At Loughcrew a cluster of megalithic cairns are aligned to display tricks of light at certain solar festivals. A beam of light at sunrise on the spring and autumnal equinoxes illuminates the passage and strikes the backstone of the chamber at Cairn T.

But on St Brigid's Day at Loughcrew Cairn L a beam of light from the Imbolc sunrise illuminates the passage and chamber and strikes a six-foot tall limestone standing stone in the cairn.

Perhaps memory of Brigid stretches back to the days of the construction of these Neolithic mounds. Her cult is certainly ancient. Saint Brigid's Cross is one of the archetypal symbols of Ireland, while today it is considered a Christian symbol, it seems to have its roots in the pre-Christian goddess Brigid.

Brigid's Cross was traditionally made of rushes on the eve of Brigid's feast and hung on kitchen walls, over doorways and windows to protect the the household from harm, a custom that can be found surviving in many Irish homes today, although it is likely far older than Christianity.

However the tale of the creation of Brigid's Cross is somewhat confused, and there are various versions, one story goes like so:

"There was an old pagan Chieftain who lay delirious on his deathbed in Kildare (some tales say this was her father) and his servants summoned Brigid to his beside in the hope that the holy woman may calm his restless spirit. Brigid is said to have sat by his bed, consoling and calming him and it is here that she picked up the rushes from the floor and began weaving them into the distinctive cross pattern. Whilst she weaved, she explained the meaning of the cross to the sick Chieftain. It is thought her calming words brought peace to his soul; he was so enamoured by her words that the old Chieftain requested he be baptised as a Christian just before his passing.

Since that day, and for the centuries that followed, it has been customary on the eve of her Feast Day (1st February) for the Irish people to fashion a St. Brigid's Cross of straw or rushes and place it inside the house over the door."

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Monday, 30 January 2017

The Arthurian Place Names of Wales

In The Giants of Wales: Cewri Cymru (Edwin Mellen, 1993), Chris Grooms lists no less than thirty-one instances of 'Coetan Arthur' (Arthur's Quoit) in Wales as the name most commonly occurring amongst prehistoric cromlechs and burial chambers, with the names of the capstones making the greater part of the listing.

Pentre Ifan (Arthur's Quoit)
The Arthurian place-name clearly suggests that Arthur played quoits here, throwing the capstone from some distant hill. The word "quoit" first appears on maps in the 16th century, but no one can be sure when these prehistoric megalithic sites were first named after King Arthur.

And these do not include all the other antiquities and natural features bearing Arthurian place-names such as Arthur's Chair, Arthur's Stone, Arthur's Grave and such like.

However, the earliest recorded onomastic tale to feature topographical folklore associated with Arthur is found in the 9th century Historia Brittonum within the Harlian 3859 manuscript. Chapters 67-75 of this work contain a description of various mirabilia, or 'Marvels' of the Island of Britain.

Two of these marvels are Arthurian in context. The first is the tomb of Arthur's son Amr at  a spring called Llygad Amr in Ergyng (Ercing), modern Herefordshire.

The other is in the country called Builth, Wales. Here a heap of stones is said to bear the footprint of the warrior Arthur’s hound when he hunted Twrch Trwyth. The pile of stones is called Carn Cafal (Carn Cabal). If a stone is removed from the pile the next day it will be found back on the carn.

Carn Cabal is one of the Arthurian sites that actually traces the geography of the tale, in this instance the Boar hunt across southern Wales from Culhwch and Olwen. Many sites associated with Arthur do not necessarily represent Arthurian geography, but in Wales there is an abundance of prehistoric site associated with Arthurian traditions. Many of these can be found scattered throughout books on the prehistoric remains in Wales and the Arthurian connection is noted but rarely explored.

Now a new book gathers together for the first time ever all the place names related to King Arthur that are found within Wales. These includes the multitude of Arthur's Quoits, Arthur's Seat, Arthur's Table and so on.

The Arthurian Place Names of Wales by Scott Lloyd (UWP, 2017) promises to offers full details on the history and mythology of more than one hundred and fifty sites in Wales, drawing on sources from the 9th to the 19th century. The result is claimed as a comprehensive look at the extensive traces of the Arthurian legacy on Wales and Welsh culture.

From the Publisher:

"This new book examines all of the available source materials, dating from the ninth century to the present, that have associated Arthur with sites in Wales. The material ranges from Medieval Latin chronicles, French romances and Welsh poetry through to the earliest printed works, antiquarian notebooks, periodicals, academic publications and finally books, written by both amateur and professional historians alike, in the modern period that have made various claims about the identity of Arthur and his kingdom. All of these sources are here placed in context, with the issues of dating and authorship discussed, and their impact and influence assessed. This book also contains a gazetteer of all the sites mentioned, including those yet to be identified, and traces their Arthurian associations back to their original source."

Scott Lloyd works at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, and has served on the committee of the British Branch of the International Arthurian Society. He lives near Aberystwyth.

The Arthurian Place Names of Wales by Scott Lloyd is due to be published on 15th May, 2017 by the University of Wales Press.

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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Arthur and the Kings of Britain

The historians tells us that in 409 AD the Romans withdrew from these Isles and left the Britons to fend for themselves in the face of the barbarian onslaught. Britain then entered a so-called 'Dark Age' lasting for nearly two hundred years until the Anglo Saxons took control of the island. It is during this shadowy period that the legendary King Arthur emerges from the mist to repel the invading Germanic tribes.

Historians like to construct an ordered chronology; the Celtic Iron Age ended with the arrival of the Romans. The Roman period ended in 409; The Anglo Saxon period began in 597, and so on. But in reality it's never that simple. Increasingly more historians now see the authorities in Britain rebelling against Rome, ejecting the imperial officials, and setting up their own government; an independent Britain emerged from the grasp of Roman control.

Our one British contemporary source, Gildas, tells that this was the time of the 'Proud Tyrant', which later sources identify with a man titled 'Vortigern', invited the Saxons to defend the island against attacks from the Picts and the Irish. In his 6th century De Excidio Britanniae (Concerning the Ruin of Britain) Gildas cetainly paints a dark picture of violent invasion.

In the 8th century Bede, following Gildas, provides an ‘English’ perspective in his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People) in describing the conquest of Britain. Then, the 9th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle used foundation legends to assert the right of the English dynasties to rule over the hapless Britons.

The British story was told in the anonymous Historia Brittonum (History of the Britons), often ascribed to a certain monk named Nennius, but this document's value as a historical source is unreliable to say the least.

Thus, the available sources for the period paint a very one-sided picture; we have the Roman version and the Anglo Saxon version. What of the Briton's own story?

In the 12th century Geoffrey of Monmouth produced the  epic work The Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain) which traced the history of the Britons from the arrival of Brutus the Trojan to Cadwallader, the last of the British kings, in the 7th century.

Geoffrey claimed that his source was "a very ancient book in the British tongue". He never named his source and the absence of such a book today has added weight to the claims that he simply invented it all.

It is obvious to even the casual reader that Geoffrey’s work contains numerous fictional tales, he writes of a world of wizards and giants, so it’s hardly surprising that, within a few years of publication serious doubt were being cast on the authenticity of his research. In 1190 William of Newburgh declared that “it is quite clear that everything this man wrote… was made up”.

Nonetheless, Geoffrey's Historia was a medieval bestseller and copies spread across the whole of western Europe, over 200 manuscripts survive from the period showing the Historia's popularity. It was regarded as 'history' for some 500 years. However, today most scholars regard Geoffrey's work as a work of fables and untrustworthy, at best a literary work of national myth. It seems then that we do not possess a reliable account of the Britons in the period between the Romans and the arrival of the Anglo Saxons.

Now in his latest book, Arthur and the Kings of Britain (Amberley Publishing, 2017) Dr Miles Russell examines Geoffrey's so-called fiction and claims the Historia actually provides a priceless insight into what life was really like for the inhabitants of Celtic Britain.

Having examined the Historia in great detail as part of Lost Voices Project, Russell claims the current negative view of the epic does Geoffrey a huge disservice and argues that the Historia is actually formed from "a mass of unrelated stories woven together to form a grand narrative" and that, once this is accepted, "it’s easier to tease out individual tales".

Russell, a senior lecturer in prehistoric and Roman archaeology at Bournemouth University, sees the key to unlocking Geoffrey’s text lies in the account of Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain, the first ‘event’ in the book that can be independently verified from other historical sources.

Julius Caesar made two expeditions to Britain in 55 and 54 BC. In his own account of his second invasion, recorded in his Gallic Wars (De Bello Gallico), there are three main players: Caesar himself; a British king called Cassivellaunus, king of the Catuvellauni; and a Roman ally named Mandubracius, king of the Trinovantes of south-eastern Britain in the 1st century BC.

Mandubracius was deposed by Cassivellaunus some time before Caesar's second expedition to Britain in 54 BC. Mandubracius fled to Gaul under the protection of Caesar. When the Romans landed Cassivellaunus led the British resistance. The Trinovantes gave Caesar the location of his fortress who then proceeded to besiege him there. Cassivellaunus was forced to surrender and Mandubracius was restored as king of the Trinovantes. (Julius Caesar, De Bello Gallico 5:20, 5:22)

Geoffrey replicates these events in his Historia, but sets them down as two separate events in what appears initially as a confused jumble. In the first, he has Ilkassar (Caesar) defeated by the Briton Cassibellaun (Cassivellaunus) at the 'Battle of Dorobellum'. In the second version, Geoffrey sets Cassibellaun as the aggressor waging war upon Androgeus (Mandubracius), when he receives news that Ilkassar has landed upon the south coast. At the battle of Durobernia, Ilkassar is victorious owing to the assistance of Androgeus acting as an ally of the Romans.

Russell argues that in describing the Roman incursion, Geoffrey appears to be using two different records of the same event, written from two entirely different perspectives. In the first account, generated by supporters of the British king, Cassivellaunus is portrayed as the hero; whereas the second is written from the perspective of Mandubracius; and suddenly Geoffrey's account of Caesar's expedition becomes clear.

Russell is a regular contributor to television and radio, appearing in Time Team, Timewatch, The Seven Ages of Britain. He is one of the few living archaeologists to have excavated at Stonehenge, having lifted the turf of the bluestone circle in 2008 with Geoffrey Wainwright and Timothy Darvill.

He is the author of fourteen books, including UnRoman Britain: Exposing the Great Myth of Britannia (with Stuart Laycock) (The History Press, 2011); and Bloodline: the Celtic Kings of Roman Britain (Amberley Publishing, 2010).

In his latest book, Arthur and the Kings of Britain (Amberley Publishing) due 15th March 2017, Russell argues Geoffrey's Historia was originally compiled from a variety of genuine sources, most of them generated from what is now the south-east of England, dating the first century BC.

Far from being a single fictional epic, Russell asserts, the Historia consists of a mass of unrelated stories woven together by Geoffrey in order to form one grand narrative.

When viewed objectively, he adds, the individual tales can radically change our understanding of British history, arguing that the Historia was set down by the ancient Britons themselves; recording how they dealt with the arrival of the Romans, and subsequently the events following the ejection of Roman authority in the early 5th century AD. It is, Russell maintains, their ‘lost voice’.

Arthur and the Kings of Britain: The Historical Truth Behind the Myths, by Miles Russell is due publication 15th March 2017 by Amberley Publishing.

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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Shepherd's Monument Solved – Again!

The Legend of Anson's Gold
Legend claims that around the year 1714 a Spanish nobleman, Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla took a special treasure from Northern Spain and hid it on the other side of the world. A Spanish galleon carrying treasure of gold bullion, silver ingots and rumoured to hold the treasure from Enoch's Vault from the Temple of Jerusalem, landed at Robinson Crusoe island (Mas a Tierra), part of the archipelago of Juan Fernandez off the Chilean coast in the Pacific, in 1715.

Ubilla was a member of the Spanish Military Order known as the Knights of Santiago. It is claimed that the Santiago Knights became the guardians of the Temple treasure (the Holy Grail?) after it was placed in their custody by the Templars who were fleeing from the persecution of King Philip IV of France  in 1307.

The ship's Captain-General Ubilla is said to have buried the treasure in a cave on this island. Ubilla died shortly after when a hurricane off the coast of Florida drove his ship onto a reef and he drowned along with over a thousand men of his fleet. Fortunately Ubilla is said to have transmitted directional details and a map to the English Royal Society before his death. A British expedition was then sent out to recover the treasure, known as the Treasure of Lord George Anson, or Anson's Gold.

Admiral Lord George Anson
In 1760 Cornelius Webb, an Englishman commissioned by Admiral Lord George Anson to find Ubilla's treasure, sailed out of Liverpool and arrived in Mas a Tierra in January 1761. It is said that he did indeed find Ubilla's gold, and carved the name “Anson” into the wall of the cave. Webb then left the island with the treasure but was caught in a storm which shattered the ship's mast and was forced to return to  the island. He re-buried the treasure at a secret location.

Webb sailed to Valparaiso, Chile to repair his ship but uncovered a plot in which the crew were planning to mutiny against him and take the treasure for themselves. He blew up the ship killing all hands on board and made his escape by rowing off in a small boat, being the sole survivor of the expedition. Webb sent two letters back to Anson telling him the location of the treasure but the Admiral died suddenly on 6th June 1762, some six months before the arrival of Webb's envoy and the documents were apparently lost. A third document was buried. Webb also died soon after and the whereabouts of the treasure remained a secret …..... until now.

Codes and Conspiracies 
The Shepherd's Monument at the Shugborough Estate in Staffordshire, now owned by the National Trust, had remained a mystery for nearly 300 years.  The 10 letter cryptic inscription bearing the letters D-O-U-O-S-V-A-V-V-M has defied some of the world's greatest thinkers including Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin and even the code-breakers from Bletchley Park.

Over the years theories abounded including the suggestion that  the inscription is a mysterious cipher used by the Knights Templar and their successors to point to the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. Another explanation is that the inscription is simply a private affirmation of love.

The Shugborough sculpture, set within a stone arch contains a marble bas-relief copy of Nicolas Poussin’s 1637-38 painting “Et in Arcadia Ego” (or “The Shepherds of Arcadia”) with the addition of an enigmatic 10-letter inscription beneath it, was commissioned by Thomas Anson, paid for by his brother, Admiral George Anson, and designed by the Flemish sculptor Peter Scheemakers in 1740.

Poussin painted two versions of The Shepherds of Arcadia, the original is held in the Louvre, Paris, and his earlier version, painted in 1627, is held at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. The painting shows a woman and three shepherds, two of whom are pointing to a tomb. On the tomb is carved the Latin text 'ET IN ARCADIA EGO' translated as “And in Arcadia I am…”  interpreted as referring to the true secret of Rennes-le-Château.

Et in Arcadia Ego II (Nicolas Poussin)

The Key to the Grail?
The Anson's were said to have been to have been members of secret societies and in the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (1982) Henry Lincoln, Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh suggested that Poussin was a member of the Priory of Sion, a successor of the medieval Knights Templar, and that his Shepherds of Arcadia contained hidden meanings of great esoteric significance.

The Templars were famous for the capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade. They become self-appointed guardians of the Temple of Jerusalem which they inhabited for some time, tunnelling underneath. The Crusades seem to be intimately linked to the Grail Romances of Arthurian legend that appeared around this time. Legend claims that the Templars were the guardians of relics recovered from the Holy Land, including the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper.

Lincoln  and co drew attention to a poem from Erdeswick's Survey of Staffordshire (1844) which was read in parliament in honour of his memory when Admiral George Anson died in 1762:

“Upon that storied marble cast thine eye
The scene commands a moralising sigh
E'en in Arcadia's bless'd Elysian plains
Amidst the laughing nymphs and sportive swains
See festal joy subside, with melting grace
And pity visit the half smiling face;
Where now the dance, the lute, the nuptial feast
The passion throbbing in the lover's breast
Life's emblem here, in youth and vernal bloom
But reason's finger pointing at the tomb!” 

This stanza seems to relate unequivocally to the Shepherd's Monument at Shugborough.

The Shepherd's Monument at Shugborough

Dan Brown's bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code (2003) cleverly weaved together many of these themes, particularly from The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, asserting that the Grail was a Holy bloodline descending from Jesus.

Never slow to miss an opportunity for attracting attention and visitor numbers, the following year, the Shugborough Estate launched a promotional campaign asserting a connection between Shugborough, and in particular the Shepherd's Monument inscription, and the location of the Holy Grail.

Now, after a decade of research author George Edmunds claims to have finally unlocked the meaning of the mysterious cipher carved into the famous Shepherd's Monument. And it might just reveal the location of the Holy Grail.

Anson's Grail
 A retired engineer from Weymouth, Edmunds previous book exposed the so-called Captain Kidd's Charts as a convincing hoax. Edmunds has studied Admiral Lord George Anson, second son of William Anson, of Shugborough, for the last ten years and claims the inscription on the Shepherd's Monument is linked to the treasure hidden by the Spanish Captain-General Ubilla. Without doubt, Lord Anson's large fortune was amassed from foreign gold.

Anson, one of Britain’s foremost admirals is favourably compared with Francis Drake after leading a fleet on a circumnavigation voyage in the 1740s, in which he captured the Spanish bullion ship Nuestra Señora de Cavadonga. 

The Capture of the Spanish Galleon 'Nuestra Señora de Covadonga', 20 April 1743
(John Cleveley, the younger, 1756 - Shugborough Estate collection)

A month after England had declared war on Spain the highly regarded Anson was selected to lead an expedition to attack Spanish holdings in the Pacific Ocean. In September 1740 Anson's ships sailed from England under orders to raid and plunder the Pacific coast of South America, attacking Panama and with the intention of capturing the annual galleon which carried treasure and goods between Mexico and the Philippines. In 1741 Anson is known to have stopped off at Juan Fernandez  in his ship HMS Centurion.

Anson succeeded in capturing the Manila treasure galleon 'Nuestra Señora de Covadonga' on its voyage from Acapulco in June 1743. The amount of treasure was enormous, said to value about £500,000. He arrived back at Portsmouth in June 1744, to receive wide acclaim and great personal wealth; no doubt some of the booty was used to enhance the Anson's ancestral home at Shugborough. It was around this time that the Shepherd's Monument was commissioned.

Edmunds argues that Anson’s elevated position as First Lord of the Admiralty during the Seven Years' War gave him access to state secrets from which he learnt of the Spanish treasure. In 1760 he launched a secret expedition to search for Ubilla's treasure but died before its recovery.

The Shepherd's Code
In his latest book 'Anson’s Gold and the Secrets to Captain Kidd’s Charts' Edmunds claims that decoding the Shepherd's Monument cipher proves Lord Anson's involvement in the search for the treasure explaining that this is why the Shepherd's Monument was constructed.
George Edmunds at Shugborough

Edmunds claims that the cipher contains the co-ordinates to the location of the Spanish treasure, consisting of more than 160 chests of gold, silver, and possibly even the relics from the Temple of Jerusalem, buried on a remote island in the south Pacific ocean, and he believes it is still there.

The trail for Ubilla's treasure goes cold after the death of Anson and Webb. However, in the 1950s an Italian Jorge di Giorgio heard about the Legend of Anson's Gold. He contacted a Chilean friend living in England named Tita Diaz who visited the Anson family home at Shugborough. Diaz is said to have found some old letters written in code in an old writing desk at Shugborough Hall.

Girogio could not make head nor tail of the letters but his mother Angelica Lyon was an expert in cryptograms and interpreted the letters as referring to the “Horseshoe Expedition” led by Captain Webb on the Unicorn, specifically sent by Lord Anson to the South Seas in 1760.

The letter states that, “adverse circumstances forced me [Webb] to bury the property of the crown in a new place and blow up the ship.” A piece of paper attached to this letter claimed it “arrived from Chile six months after my Lord [Anson] passed away.”

The second document referred to “the map of the bay 'Pascoy'  with many lines; one indicating a point on the coast where the answer can be found.” Written in the corner, “This map arrived from Chile fifteen months after my Lord passed away.

A third document refers to “Altitude Schuba I Depth Yellow Stone 1.

Giorgio was convinced that the second document referred to the place the directional instructions for finding the treasure where hidden. He was convinced it was Horcon to the north of Quintero. Realising he needed more funds to carry out the exploration he formed a Company with his friend Louis Cousino.

Cousino went out at night to search the beaches of Horcon. He eventually found a box containing a document written in the same key as the Shugborough letters found by Diaz. Again Angela Lyon de-coded the text. It was written by Cornelius Webb Captain of the Unicorn, and only survivor of the Horseshoe Expedition. Webb detailed the treasure, consisting of 864 bags of gold, 200 bars of gold, 21 barrels of precious stones and jewels, a gilded trunk and 160 chests of gold and silver coins which he transferred, providing longitude and latitude, to a new hiding place, seemingly 15 feet below a great yellow stone.

Giorgio and Cousino assembled a team to carry out a search on Juan Fernandez island. After finding nothing they returned to the mainland empty handed in 1952. Forty years later a wealthy American named Bernard Keiser began a search of the island for the so-called Anson's Gold but after a seven year investigation also failed to find the treasure.

 Keiser was looking in the wrong place, claims Edmunds, because he had made a fundamental translation error of the Latin in looking for the 'yellow rock' when this was in fact a reference to a significant star in a constellation for the second bearing. Edmunds and his then business partner offered to exchange information with Keiser but the American declined.

Edmunds believes that the so-called Anson's Gold will not be found on Juan Fernandez island, as the “horseshoe” (expedition) refers to another island in the Pacific where Webb relocated Ubilla's treasure; the co-ordinates given on the Shepherd's Monument at Shugborough.

Further reading:
Anson's Gold: and the Secret to Captain Kidd's Charts 
by George Edmunds
Filament Publishing, 2016

The Story of Admiral Lord Anson's Treasure

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Monday, 16 January 2017

Unravelling King Arthur

2016 saw the publication of two Arthurian books both claiming to have identified the legendary King Arthur: The Lost Tomb of King Arthur by Graham Phillips (Bear & Co, 2016); King Arthur: Unravelling the Mystery by Chris Barber (Pen & Sword, 2016). Both works claim to be the summation of a life times study of the Arthurian legend by the authors.

There are many differences in these two accounts; what is the avid reader of Arthuriana to make of all these conflicting theories? Here I focus on just three significant deviations: the character identified as Arthur; the location of Camlann; the location of Arthur's tomb.

Tracking the Bear
Much of Graham Phillips's latest book, The Lost Tomb of King Arthur, recaps on the self-acclaimed historical detective's earlier book 'King Arthur: The True Story' written with Martin Keatman (Century, 1992) in which he identified Owain Ddantgwyn as the man himself, with the Roman city at Wroxeter his Camelot.

In King Arthur: The True Story Phillips identifies Arthur (The Bear) as the battle-title of Owain Ddantgwyn based on the 'Denunciation of the Five Princes' contained in Chapters 28-36 of De Excidio Britanniae (The Ruin Of Britain) a 6th century text by Gildas. Phillip's theory has not received wide acceptance by any means as Ddantgwyn appears as a minor king of Rhos in the Gwynedd genealogies, not Powys.

In his latest work Phillips maintains the identification with Owain Ddantgwyn but provides additional conjecture on the battle of Camlann and the location of Arthur's tomb. His argument for the location of Camlann is based on the native British tale 'The Dream of Rhonabwy' (Breudwyt Rhonabwy) found in the Red Book of Hergest and included in  Lady Charlotte Guest's Mabinogion collection. Phillips claims that Rhonabwy's Dream reveals the location of the Battle of Camlann.

When Rhonabwy falls alseep on the yellow ox-skin he finds himself at Maes Argyngroeg (the plain near Welshpool, today named 'Gungrog') riding towards Rhyd-y-groes on the Hafren (the river Severn) and meets a rider named 'Iddog Cordd Prydain’, meaning the ‘Agitator of Britain’, for his role as messenger at the battle of Camlann. In the dream, Camlann happened in the past; Iddawg explains that he did seven years penance at Y Lech Las in Prydain (The Grey Rock in Pictland) for sending hostile messages between Arthur and Medraut (the Welsh name for the Cornish Mordred).

Rhonabwy's Dream actually details the build up to the battle of Badon, not Camlann, where a huge host is gathering at the crossing of the river Severn. The sequence of the Dream is indeed the reverse to the traditional chronology with Camlann occurring before Badon; time appears to be running backwards (see: Edgar Slotkin, “The Fabula, Story, and Text of Breuddwyd Rhonabwy”, CMCS 18, Winter, 1989).

In King Arthur: The True Story, Phillips and Keatman wrote of the Iron Age earthworks known as 'The Berth', near Baschurch in Shropshire as a potential burial place of King Arthur. Now he returns to The Berth with details of archaeological surveys carried out at the site since publication of that book in 1992 and locates a probable warriors grave; hence the title of the book.

Wroxeter Roman city (Viroconium) - Phillips's Camelot
The Wrekin in the distance (Dinlle Wrecon in Canu Heledd)
The main theme of Phillips's latest book is the apparent identification of King Arthur's lost tomb as in the title. Phillips argues he has identified the Churches of Bassa (Eglwyssau Bassa) as the Iron Age earthwork known as The Berth in Shropshire from the Welsh cycle of poems known as Canu Heledd, is the the resting place of the kings of Powys and Owain Ddantgwyn (his King Arthur).

Attracted to the site by claims that in 1925 archaeologist Lilly Chitty came across a local legend that claimed a prince was buried at The Berth with his men nearby. However, archaeological investigation at The Berth has been very limited. Phillips now provides further information following surveys of the site with ground penetrating radar in 1995 and 2011.

The Berth consists of two circular earthworks connected by a gravel causeway, linked by a further causeway to the hill at Birchgrove to the south. In Arthur's time the two earthworks would have been surrounded by a large lake which today survives as the much reduced Berth Pool. In 1906 a large bronze cauldron dating to the 1st century AD was found at the pool, suggestive of votive offerings in the lake. Scans through the waters of Berth Pool revealed indications of numerous metal objects below the mud at the bottom. Phillips was hopeful he might recover Arthur's famous sword Excalibur but conditions were too poor to allow a thorough investigation of the lake bed.

One significant groundscan revealed a strong resistance, possibly the iron boss of a shield. Phillips wonders could this be the grave of a warrior with shield; is this the lost tomb of Arthur? Phillips concedes that this is probably a Powysian king, such as Cynddylan, the main subject of Canu Heledd. If this grave belongs to a king of Powys, where then is the grave of Owain Ddantgwyn, King Arthur?

On his website Phillips adds what should have been included as an appendix to his book. He states that in some versions of the legend of King Arthur he is taken to an island, but others record that he was brought back to shore for burial in a chapel. The groundscans at The Berth revealed the potential sites of several chapels, hence,  the plural name the Churches of Bassa (Eglwyssau Bassa).

At Birchgrove, at the end of  The Berth's southern causeway, a chapel was demolished when they built the  modern B4397 road in the 1930s. During the demolition a gravestone was found bearing the Latin inscription "HIC" which Phillips contends was probably part of the words 'HIC IACET' which translate as ‘Here Lies...’.

This site, where the B4397 crosses the line of the southern causeway at Birchgrove, Phillips suggests could be the site of a chapel where the tarmac was laid over. This, he argues, could be the site of King Arthur's lost tomb. We will only know for certain if he obtains permission to dig up the road.

Arthur of Gwent
In 'Journey to Avalon' (1997) Chris Barber and David Pykitt identify the legendary King Arthur with Athrwys ap Meurig, a petty king of Gwent and Glamorgan in 7th Century Wales, outlived by his father. This identification is questionable as the late date is inconsistent with the historical Arthur of the Battle of Badon which is normally dated between 495 - 500 AD.

To get around this chronological obstacle Barber & Pykitt, following Blackett & Wilson (Artorius Rex Discovered, 1986), argue that Athrwys was the REAL King Arthur by pushing his lifetime back to the traditional Arthurian period in the early 6th century.

In King Arthur: Unravelling the Mystery Barber maintains this identification and argues that as a young warrior Athrwys may have made quite an impression and it is quite conceivable that many stories associated with King Arthur in south-east Wales actually refer to Athrwys. One notable association is King Arthur's link with Caerleon (City of the Legions) deep in the heart of King Athrwys' kingdom, which, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, was one of his major courts.

Barber tells us that Medraut's family had a residence on the Llŷn Peninsula, North Wales. According to the Welsh Triads, Medraut's father Cawdraf was one of Arthur's three counsellors. He is said to have been buried at the church he founded at Abererch which became known as Llan Gawrda. About a mile north of this church is a large boulder called Cadair Cawdraf which seems to preserve a memory of him.

Further evidence for the association of Camlan with the North Wales peninsula is found with Cynwyl, named as one of the survivors of Arthur's final battle, as the patron saint of Penrhos near Lannor on Llŷn.

Barber has Arthur land his army at a small harbour known as Porth Cadlan (Battle-place Harbour) on the Llŷn Peninsula. In Journey to Avalon Barber argues for the battle of Camlann being fought here at Cadlan. In King Arthur: Unravelling the Mystery he revises his opinion on the strength of Geoffrey of Monmouth's account stating that the battlefield was three days from the point of disembarkation and now opts for a location in Wales bearing the very name of the battle of Camlan(n).

The memory of Camlann is found in Welsh tradition free of influence from Geoffrey of Monmouth. Between Dinas Mawddwy and Mallwyd, near the border between Powys and Gwynedd, we find 'Camlan isaf', 'Bron Camlan' (lower and upper Camlan respectively), 'Bryn Cleifion' (hill of the wounded) and 'Maes y Camlann' (the field of Camlan).  Anyone visiting this location cannot fail to be moved by this desolate valley and the voices of the ancient warriors carried on the wind.

Again following Geoffrey, Barber claims that Medraut was killed at Camlann and Arthur was mortally wounded. Geoffrey states that Arthur was taken to the island of Avalon to be healed of his wounds and handed the crown of Britain to his cousin Constantine. Barber sees this as an act of abdication. Arthur's disappearance after the battle of Camlann is one of the great mysteries of the legend.

Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlii)
Barber solution to this mystery is to claim that Arthur was taken to Bardsey Island off the western tip of the Llŷn peninsula. Here he was healed of his wounds before sailing to Brittany where he became known as St Armel. Barber argues that this was the same fate of his grandfather Tewdrig, who abdicated and then became known as St Tewdrig.

Armel is a combination of the words 'Arz' (Bear) and 'Mael' (Prince). There are several churches dedicated to him in Brittany. The wounded Arthur, or Arzur as he is called locally, arrived at Plouarzel on a silver bier, a few kilometres inland from where he landed with his companions at Lyonesse. At Ploermel (Plou-Armel), once known as Lann Arthmael, a 15th century stained-glass window tells the story of St Armel arriving from Britain with his company, subduing a dragon, and finally his death at around 80 years of age.

It is not known for certain, writes Barber, where St Armel died but he dates it to the year 562 AD. It is probable that he died at Ploermel and his body was taken to St Armel-des-Boschaux for burial. Indeed, the church at St Armel-des-Boschaux displays a stone sarcophagus which claims to have once contained the saint's bones. Some relics seem to have been kept at Ploermel where the cranium was retained and later the lower jaw was obtained. Other relics are claimed by Plouharnel and Chateau-Revand.

Silhouettes and Shadows
How can these two accounts of the life and death of Arthur be so widely different?

The simplest answer is that the Arthurian legend contains many elements that can be found in the accounts of various historical characters such as Athrwys ap Meurig of south-east Wales (Arthur of Gwent),  Arthwys ap Mor (Arthur of the Pennines), and possibly even Owain Ddantgwyn, but although there are similarities in the names of many contenders none contains all the elements of the legend in one place and none are actually named ARTHUR.

Copyright © 2017 Edward Watson

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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Tintagel: Creating Camelot - Part 2

>>  Continued from Tintagel: Creating Camelot - Part 1

Archaeological excavations at Tintagel this year led to what has been hailed as the discovery of 2016 generating a media frenzy with headlines such as 'King Arthur's Tintagel 'birthplace' dig finds royal seat' 13 claiming the discovery will ignite debate in Arthurian research circles because, in medieval tradition, Arthur was said to have been conceived at Tintagel.14

Tintagel and Arthur 
After Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain (Historia Regum Britanniæ, c.1136AD), Tintagel plays very little part in the Arthurian cycle and does not figure strongly in Arthurian Romance. Significantly, the tales of Tristan and Iseult are situated in the south-west of England and cite Tintagel as the seat of King Mark, ruler of Cornwall.

However, The High History of the Grail (Li Hauz Livres du Graal, or Perlesvaus) dated c.1200-10, Lancelot and Gawain visit a little castle in a combe in which the enclosure of the castle was fallen down into an abysm. A priest emerged from a chapel situated above an ancient hall and told them that it was the great Tintagel. When the knights enquired as to why the ground was all caved in about the castle, the priest replied that after King Utherpendragon had slept with Ygerna, after Merlin had changed him into the semblance of Gorlois, and conceived Arthur in a great hall that was next to the enclosure there where this abysm is. And for this sin the ground has sunken.15 As the Perlesvaus is claimed to have been written at Glastonbury in Somerset we should not be surprised if it contains first hand knowledge of south-west England. The anonymous author of the Perlesvaus, like Geoffrey, must have visited the site before Richard, Earl of Cornwall, built his castle in the 13th century.

The Medieval Gateway on the Headland
By 1233 Arthur’s legendary connection with the site, no doubt, inspired Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to build a castle on the mainland at Tintagel and the island courtyard, the ruins of which remains today. A century later the castle had begun to decay and fall into neglect. Although Richard's medieval castle was little used, imaginative legends continued to flourish and the site attracted antiquarians over the course of time.

Around 1480 the antiquary William Worcestre claimed Tintagel as the place of Arthur’s birth in addition to his conception there as stated by Geoffrey. John Leland visited the castle in the 16th century and by 1650 the name 'King Arthur’s Castle' appears for the first time, which by now had become a tangled concoction of literary accounts entwined with local lore.

By the 19th century writers such as Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, Algernon Swinburne, Thomas Hardy and the local Cornish antiquarian and poet Robert Stephen Hawker drew inspiration from visiting the dramatic cliff-top setting of Tintagel, and coupled with the legends, prompted the Arthurian Revival in the Victorian Age.

Local people like Florence Nightingale Richards, were by now acting as guides and escorting wealthy Victorian tourists through the ruins pointing out features linking the site to Arthur, such as Arthur's Footprint, which is reputed to have been imprinted in the solid rock when Arthur ‘stepped at one stride across the sea' to Tintagel Church (1889). The Parish church dedicated to St Materiana is one third of a mile distant - is this another reference to Arthur as a giant? Below the King's Seat on the highest point of the headland are a series of depression in the rockface known as Arthur's Cup and Saucers.16

St Materiana's Church from the Headland
Near the site of the chapel on the Headland is would appear to be a rock-cut grave of the medieval period. This was recorded by Leland in the 16th century and so has lain open since at least this point. John Norden wrote of this feature around 1600:

“Ther is in this Castle a hole hewed out of a rocke, made in manner of a graue, which is sayde to haue bene done by a Hermite for his buriall; and the gravue will fitt euerye stature, as it is effabuled; but experience doth not so assure me.”

In more recent times this rock-cut depression has acquired its own identity and is now variously known as King Arthur’s Bed, Elbow Chair or Hip-Bath. However, there is no record of any of these 'Arthurian' features before the 19th century. Indeed, in 1863 when the scientist and antiquarian Robert Hunt visited Tintagel to obtain folklore he was told by the man in charge of the castle that he had no Arthur stories to tell. Charles Thomas notes that “nearly all overt Arthurian details first appear in print about 1870”.17

By the 20th century Arthur-mania had developed a firm grip on the Cornish village. The wealthy businessman Frederick Thomas Glasscock moved to Somerset from London and founded the Order of the Fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table converting Trevena Hall into King Arthur's Great Halls of Chivalry, famous for its stained glass windows featuring the Arthurian legend. Since the 1950s, the Great Halls has been used as a Masonic meeting place and home to the King Arthur Lodge.

Tintagel through the Ages
Archaeology has failed to find Geoffrey's fortress at Tintagel, or indeed any fortress that preceded it. Thomas Charles lists five main periods of activity at Tintagel.

Nothing Prehistoric (Period 0) can be assigned to either the church or the headland, save a few flint chips, some worked, picked up from paths on the headland. Evidence for Period I, Roman, comes from two inscribed milestones from the area, one now in Tintagel church and one at Trethevy 1½ miles east, from the 3rd and 4th centuries, and some Roman coins of the same period, sherds of 4th century Roman wheel-made pottery (Oxford Red slipped ware) and locally made jars and bowls from the same date suggest a presence but limited activity.18

Period II remains near the Headland summit
Period II at Tintagel has been referred to as 'Arthurian' or 'Dark Age', this term is now unfashionable as it was certainly not a 'Dark' period as such on the headland with vast amounts of pottery and structures found from excavations carried out in the 1930s and again in the 1950s by C. A. Ralegh Radford, who claimed that the site, due to the relative isolation and harsh environment, was an early Christian monastery from the 5th through to the 8th century. When the first official HMSO guidebook was published in 1935 author Ralegh Radford was at pains to stress that there was no evidence whatsoever to support the legendary connection of the Castle with King Arthur. The legendary tales of Tristan and Iseult place King Mark at Tintagel in this Period.19

Period III starts at the end of Period II, around 600, to 1230 when Richard, Earl of Cornwall built the medieval castle.  The chapel, standing among the ruins of 5th - 7th buildings (perhaps that witnessed by Lancelot and Gawain in the Perlesvaus), dates from this Period, probably around 1150. The Domesday Book survey of 1086 fails to mention Tintagel, but the first allusions to the headland as a stronghold of Cornish kings falls within this period.20

The construction of the Castle in 1230-40 marks the commencement of Period IV. The structural sequence of the Castle has yet to be determined as much of its remains are now missing. The Post Medieval period to present, Period V, commences from the 16th century; by now the castle is in ruins after hundreds of years of neglect.21

Excavating Camelot
Ralegh Radford's monastic interpretation has now been shown to be incorrect. Several works have since re-evaluated Radford's findings, although there are very little records surviving from his excavations, the ceramic assemblage from his excavations, and analysis of the Medieval literature and historical documents, led to general dissatisfaction among archaeologists of his early monastic interpretation.

Further archaeological excavations in the 1960s and again in 1976–81 recovered a remarkable quantity of imported pottery datable to the final Roman and mostly the early Post-Roman period through to the early 7th century. In the mid-1980s a fire on the Tintagel headland led to considerable erosion of the topsoil, and over 100 more building foundations than were recorded by Radford could be seen. Ceramic analysis suggests that Tintagel was the leading centre in south-west England for trade with southern Gaul, the eastern Mediterranean, and North Africa.

Living on the Edge: building remains on the terrace
In the 1990s a project sponsored by English Heritage and Glasgow University was set up to re-evaluate and validate Radford's work by  specialists such as Charles Thomas. The Cornwall Archaeology Unit carried out excavations on previously unearthed buildings. The findings indicated that the site was almost certainly a high status site with far reaching contacts, possibly functioning as a citadel of the Dumnonian rulers.

A radiocarbon dating sequence for the phases of building on the Lower Terrace suggests that the final phase of occupation dates to 560 - 670. However, this is just one site and cannot as this time  be accepted as representative of the abandonment whole headland.

Evidence of Arthur? 
In 1998 a broken inscribed stone, known as the Tintagel Slate or Artognou Stone was found within a sealed 7th century layer on the eastern terrace of the site. The stone, which was broken and re-used as part of a drain, has two inscriptions. Charles Thomas later dated the slate to the 6th Century, which initially caused a frenzy of claims in the press as evidence of King Arthur at Tintagel.

Dr Geoffrey Wainwright, at the time chief archaeologist at English Heritage, is reporting as saying that “Tintagel has presented us with evidence of a Prince of Cornwall, in the Dark Ages, living in a high-status domestic settlement at the time Arthur lived. It has given us the name of a person, Arthnou. Arthnou was here, that is his name on a piece of stone. It is a massive coincidence at the very least. This is where myth meets history. It's the find of a lifetime.” He added the inscribed name was “close enough to Arthur to refer to the legendary warrior king”.

Charles Thomas has suggested that Tintagel was the *Durocornovio (‘Fort of the Cornovii’), as listed in the Ravenna Cosmography, which the Roman coins may support, and both commercial and locally made pottery of the 3rd and 4th centuries. After the Romans, the site's role in the kingdom of Domnonia seems to have provided an important link to the world far beyond the British Isles with imported artefacts found at Tintagel alone demonstrating that from about AD 450 until about AD 650 Tintagel was a prosperous and highly significant site, closely involved in trade with the Mediterranean world.

The headland was found to be covered with many small rectangular buildings, some visible today. However, the exact nature of Post-Roman Tintagel remains elusive with the main focus of activity for this site in the centuries immediately following the Roman withdrawal. The best interpretation on current evidence appears to be a seasonally occupied fortress or royal seat of the post-Roman kings of Dumnonia, which would agree with the tales of Tristan and Iseult which cite Tintagel as the seat of King Mark. After the mid-7th century there is little evidence of activity on the island for the next 500 years.

To date, no evidence of any catastrophic destruction has been found. However, the latter half of the 6th century and the 7th century were notorious for a plague pandemic which, having killed millions throughout the Mediterranean world, almost certainly devastated parts of Britain arriving through a key trading centre such as Tintagel.

Where History Meets Legend
Evidence for a real King Arthur has evaded identification for over a thousand years. Archaeology has failed to positively uncover any firm trace of his existence; at best we can only be certain of his existence as a character of  literature and legend.

The Medieval Courtyard on the Headland, overlooked by the Camelot Castle Hotel
Significantly, there is no evidence of Arthur's existence at Tintagel prior to Geoffrey of Monmouth or from modern day excavations. But the legend lives on, stronger than ever, and since the Arthurian Revival in the Victorian Age tourists have created the demand to seek him out, coinciding with the first records of 'Arthuriana' at Tintagel in the 19th century.

I last visited Tintagel in 2013 feeling somewhat disappointed with the place. Since that visit English Heritage (EH) has made many changes to enhance the visitor experience (their words, not mine). EH certainly makes the most of Tintagel as its top Arthurian draw and fifth ranking visitor attraction. It has to now it is a Trust since the government separated it off from Historic England. The Government claims "The new charitable status will give English Heritage freedom to raise funds – with a target of finding a further £83 million from third parties.... that, within ten years, it will be self-financing and no longer depend upon support from the taxpayer."22

With a huge financial burden placed on EH one can understand the pressure to increase visitor numbers. EH are currently presenting a fresh interpretation of history and legend at Tintagel, ever hopeful of increasing visitor numbers and revenue. In their mission statement on their website EH claims to “seek to be true to the story of the places and artefacts that we look after and present. We don't exaggerate or make things up for entertainment's sake. Instead, through careful research, we separate fact from fiction and bring fascinating truth to light.23

As part of EH's plans to improve the “visitor experience” at Tintagel Castle, the Beach Cafe has been refurbished and a new exhibition constructed exploring the history of Tintagel Castle and the Arthurian legends. Ongoing plans for Tintagel, EH claim, will include an “imaginative new outdoor interpretation” that will feature interactive exhibits and informative panels in addition to a range of artworks crafted in bronze and stone bringing history and legend to life.  A new bridge linking the medieval castle to the headland is planned for 2019. A series of panels will reveal 1,500 years of Tintagel's past which will create a journey of discovery where the visitor can explore the history of the castle and the role that legends have played in shaping the site - from a royal stronghold to thriving trading port, to a castle of romantic stories.

Yet, the new EH interpretation has led to claims of “Disneyfication” of the site and questioned the organisation's responsibility as Guardians of Heritage.

A stone compass points to places connected with the tales of King Arthur. Merlin's face has been carved in the rocks on the beach and on the island and a bronze sculpture, named Gallos, inspired by the legend of King Arthur and the historic royal figures associated with Tintagel, has been mounted on the Headland. This dramatic site in its cliff-top setting, rich in history, really does not need this fusion of history and legend.

Creating Camelot
In August 2016 another press frenzy ensued when English Heritage-funded archaeologists from of the Cornwall Archaeological Unit on a 5 year program announced they have discovered the impressive remains of a probable Dark Age royal palace at Tintagel that immediately became linked with King Arthur. The one-metre thick walls have been interpreted as those of the main residence of the 6th century rulers of an ancient south-west British kingdom, known as Dumnonia.

“The probable palace which the archaeologists have found appears to date from the 5th and 6th centuries AD – which would theoretically fit well with the traditional legends of King Arthur which placed him in precisely those centuries. Whether coincidence or not, the way in which the new evidence resonates with Britain’s most enduring and popular medieval legend is sure to generate renewed popular and scholarly interest in the site.24

However, English Heritage cannot be held accountable for the reaction of the Press, yet a 5 year excavation plan is bound to produce ample Arthurian publicity for the site, increasing visitor numbers and we will almost certainly see further press releases like the "Artognou Stone'" debacle in 1998.

Is this Camelot? Certainly not. According to a retired professor the true location of Camelot is a small Roman fort at Slack, situated on the Roman road from Chester to York, outside Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, known as Camulodunum.25

Copyright © 2016 Edward Watson

Notes & References
13. King Arthur's Tintagel 'birthplace' dig finds royal seat - BBC News Cornwall - 3 August 2016
14. Dark Ages royal palace discovered in Cornwall – in area closely linked to the legend of King Arthur - David Keys Archaeology Correspondent, The Independent - 2 August 2016
15. The High History Of The Holy Graal, Translation by Sebastian Evans, 1898, text based on that published by J.M. Dent & Sons, London, 1910.
16. Paul Broadhurst, Tintagel and the Arthurian Mythos, Pendragon Press, 1992.
17. Charles Thomas, English Heritage Book of Tintagel: Arthur and Archaeology, Batsford, 1993.
18. Ibid.
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid.
22. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Press Release 6 December 2013.
23. English Heritage Mission Statement
24. Dark Ages royal palace discovered in Cornwall – in area closely linked to the legend of King Arthur by David Keys, Archaeology Correspondent, The Independent,  2nd August 2016.
25. Ex-Bangor University Professor reveals 'true Camelot' - BBC Norh West Wales 18 December 2016.

Further Reading:
Authority, authenticity and interpretation at Tintagel by Dr. Tehmina Goskar

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