For the months of April/May Clas Merdin has been running a poll on the identity of the Real Arthur.
A select list of the most popular candidates was offered with the addition of a final category for those who doubt the King's historical existence.
Lucius Castus Artorius 5%
Athwrys of Gwent 3%
Creation of Geoffrey of Monmouth 1%
Never existed 11%
Not surprisingly the two most likely candidates for an historical Arthur came joint top of the poll with 37% each:
According to Gildas the Last of the Romans who's family wore the purple, and led the beleaguered Britons to victory at the Battle of Badon Hill, c.495AD. Nennius claims Arthur was the leader of the Britons at Badon making Ambrosius a strong contender for the historical Dux Bellorum. Little is known of the historical Ambrosius outside of Gildas. Right time, right place, right result.
The theory of King Arthur as Riothamus who met his demise in France is not a new one and has been championed in recent years by Geoffrey Ashe in The Discovery of King Arthur, (1985) and more recently by Marilyn Floyde, King Arthur's French Odyssey (2009).
However, Léon Fleuriot has argued that Riothamus is identical to Ambrosius Aurelianus which is compatible with the Poll result.
The only other serious contender to these two most likely candidates was that Arthur never existed coming in at 11%. This is suggestive of a growing number that see Arthur, pre-Geoffrey of Monmouth, as a non-historical character, a mythical figure of early Welsh poetry who journeys to the Otherworld at will, fighting monsters and accompanied by deities from the Celtic pantheon.
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