Sites and places associated with Arthurian legend
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 mythological figures in British mythology, it is unlikely that any definitive conclusions about any of the claims for these places will ever be established, nevertheless it is both interesting and important to try and evaluate the body of evidence which does exist and examine it critically. The earliest reference to Arthur is in the Gododdin
of the 6th century
; while his fame may have mightily increased in the intervening years, the facts about his life have become increasingly less discernible.
Places which vie for contention as the location of Camelot include
At Glastonbury on the queer,
They made Artourez toumbe there,
And wrote with latyn vers thus,
Hic jacet Arturus, rex quondam, rexque futurus
(Here lies Arthur, the once and future king).
- Glastonbury In ''Liber Rubeus Bathoniae of 1428 a link is drawn between Arthur and Glastonbury as the site of Avalon:
Glastonbury is conceived of as the legendary island of Avalon
, the word Avalon itself being an anglicised corruption of the Celtic "Annwn", the Celtic twilight world of faerie
. An early Welsh
story links Arthur to the Tor in an account of a conflict between Arthur and the Celtic king, Melwas, who was said to have kidnapped Arthur's wife Queen Guinevere
. In 1191
, monks at the Abbey claimed to have found the graves of Arthur and Guinevere to the south of the Lady Chapel of the Abbey church, which was visited by a number of contemporary historians including Giraldus Cambrensis
. The remains were later moved, and lost during the Reformation
. Many scholars suspect that this discovery was a pious forgery to substantiate the antiquity of Glastonbury's foundation, and increase its renown.
A cross was extant in Wells until the 18th century, not far from Glastonbury, on which were inscribed the Latin words HIC IACET SEPULTUS INCLITUS REX ARTURUS IN INSULA AVALONIA (trans. "Here lies interred the renowned King Arthur in the Isle of Avalon"). The fate of the cross is unknown.
Reputed Arthurian battle sites
(The first twelve are from a list preserved in the Historia Brittonum)
- Battle of the river Glein (the site of the first battle)
- Battles of the river Dubglas (said to be the site of the second, third, fourth and fifth battles) in the region of Linnuis
- Battle of the river Bassas(the 6th battle)
- Battle of Cat Coit Celidon (the 7th battle)
- Battle of Fort Guinnon (the 8th battle)
- Battle of the City of the Legion (according to the Historia Brittonum) the 9th battle was at Caerleon Castle, other sources refer it to Chester
- Caerleon Castle is also said to be the site of Arthur's court and Guinevere's convent, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth
- Battle of Tibruit (the 10th battle)
- Battle of Agned (the 11th battle)
- Mons Badonicus c. AD 496 according to Howlett's interpretation of Gildas' text. (NB. The date & location, and contestants of this battle are a contentious article of considerable debate) This is the 12th battle of the list from the Historia Brittonum.
- Badbury Rings (Iron Age hill fort and possible site of Mons Badonicus)
- Bath the location of Mons Badonicus according to Geoffrey of Monmouth
- Liddington Castle another contender for the site of Mons Badonicus
- Little Solsbury Hill (Mons Badonicus again)
- Battle of Camlann is thought by scholars to have been fought around the Roman fort of Castlesteads. According to tradition, this was Arthur's last and fatal battle.
Places with other associations to Arthurian legend
- Alnwick Castle is a contender for Lancelot's castle Joyous Gard according to Malory.
- Bamburgh Castle is an alternative contender to Alnwick Castle for Lancelot's castle Joyous Gard according to Malory.
- The convent at Amesbury in Wiltshire is a contender for the place of banishment of Guinevere.
- Broceliande Forest is in Brittany
- Carlisle: In Malory, Guinevere's affair with Lancelot was exposed at Carlisle and there sentenced to death.
- Carmarthen was the birthplace of Merlin according to Geoffrey of Monmouth and the name Carmathen itself is is said to derive from Caer Myrrdin, Merlin's fortress. There are many places surrounding Carmarthen with names associating it with Merlin such as Brynn Myrrdin, "Merlin's Wood".
- Castle Dore the Cornish castle associated with the story of Tristan and Isolde
- Dinas Emrys (Iron Age hill fort in Gwynedd said to have been a place of refuge of Vortigern and the site of Merlin's vision of Red and White dragons).
- Stonehenge is said to be the burial place of Uther Pendragon.