Introducing the locations connected with King Arthur, but also looking at if he existed.
Few could not be aware of the stories of King Arthur, originally placed at around the 6th or 7th century in what many call the dark ages, largely because we are are in the dark about what went on in the time from when the Romans left and the Norman conquest in 1066.
Like many parts of old history we have more snippets of information than hard facts, and while around the 13th century everyone was totally convinced King Arthur was a real part of history, today many are less convinced, feeling perhaps its a composite character, or more legend than fact. This is not helped by in this time having a large number of kings, not only over time but different kingdoms, and a poor understanding of what alliances existed and what qualified as a king in those times.
We have an in depth article on King Arthur, did he exist, and who was he, this explores records, looks at historic characters and tries to pull together the facts, plus gives you links to look up more.
Exploring the locations connected with King Arthur we come up with Caerleon, Camelot, Avalon, Glastonbury, Camlan and Tintagel, some of which we can identify and others we can look at possibilities.
Tintagel, where he is said to have been born, is a castle by the sea in Cornwall, located high up and an impossible site to launch any mass attack on. Some say this is the castle of Old King Cole mentioned in nursery rhymes. The village of Tintagel today was originally known as Trevena. The castle remains, we see today, date from the 12th century. Before this there was a high status Celtic monastery and some say a princely fortress and trading post in the 5th and 6th century. We have a feature guide on Tintagel Castle.
Caerleon is a small Welsh town beside the River Usk, just outside Newport. It's name is Welsh for "City" or Fort of the Legion." Geoffrey of Monmouth calls it the City of Legions, detailing the lavish court that Arthur holds there foreshadowing the Camelot to come.
It was the base of one of the major roman legions in Britain, and said to be the base of a 'Bishipree' greater than Canterbury or York until it was moved to St David's. In early versions, including all by Geoffrey on Monmouth this was clearly stated as Arthur's base, Camelot was not mentioned, nor was the round table. Today there is a lot to see in Caerleon including the Museum of Wales (all free entry), sections of the Roman Fortress Wall still survive, an amphitheatre that could once seat a whole legion - up to six thousand spectators, finest remains of Roman Barrack buildings in Europe, The National Roman Legion Museum houses a superb display of artefacts found in the region, as well as having demonstration rooms and the reconstruction of legionaries' quarters. The Roman Baths Museum nearby uses modern technology to give the visitor a vivid image of its former grandeur. The museum is run by CADW, so opening times are not exactly the same as the Legionary Museum, also there is an entry charge. A heritage trail takes you around a larger selection of local sites as well as calling on the main sites. Find out more on visiting Caerleon.
Camelot, was supposed to have been the special place where the knights of the round table met, so what do we know: Cam could also reflect the Celtic word meaning "crooked" which may not be a lot of help.
If Camelot existed then in my view the most likely location was Cadbury Castle.
Glastonbury, we are going to explore another time. It was where the grave of Arthur was said to have been found, but by monks who were the best spin merchants in history, having the grail, the remains of many saints and much more. Glastonbury is a special place and has a complex and special history with loads of legends.
Avalon, an island maybe, maybe an island in a swamp like the pre drained Somerset wetlands where old board walks have been found. Some suggest one of many islands including Bardsey in South Wales and Lundy off the Somerset coast well as St Michel's Mount in Cornwall, reached by a causeway at low tide. Quite a few islands are occupied or have been by monasteries. I think an island as such is unlikely, as it was said to be near a lake, for the day in the lake bit. The name Avalon is thought to derive from a connection with apples, and in the legends it was said to be famous for its beautiful apples. Aval is today both Breton and Cornish for apple and welsh is Afal, but the f is pronounced v. Somerset today still has many apple orchards, but Bardsey and some other islands also feature apples as well. Other stories/legends from other places have magical or special islands and apples are often a feature connected with these.
Camlann (battle of) King Arthur's last battle where he ether dies in battle or was mortally wounded and died shortly after. Camlann can be translated as "crooked bank", so the name is not necessarily of help in locating it. The earliest known reference to this battle, is the entry in the Annales Cambriae (annals of Wales) for the year 537, written before the 10th century. It does not say where it is or mention Arthur and covers battles throughout the UK not only in Wales. Some say it means, where the River Cam flows beneath Camel Hill and Annis Hill, at or near Queen Camel in Somerset not far from South Cadbury. There are a range of other locations, but little to go on.