|The Winchester 'Round Table'|
Oh, come now. Really? I’m sorry to say that I heartily disagree with the Daily Telegraph which interviewed archaeologists from Glasgow University on this discovery. Talk about the media twisting things to get sensational headlines! Glasgow University has been working in the gardens of Stirling Castle and carried out geophysics on the circular part of the gardens called the ‘King’s Knot’. What the geophysics found was a much older, circular feature beneath the visible 17th century remains.
|The 'King's Knot' Stirling Castle|
In my thesis work on theories about the location of Arthur’s ‘Camelot’, I looked at a variety of theories that placed Arthur at South Cadbury Castle in Somerset, Wroxeter in western England near the Welsh border, and Roxburgh Castle in the Scottish Borders. This was fascinating research and it showed how much archaeology contributes to such work. Pottery sherds don’t often lie. At the time, Cadbury Castle, a former Iron Age hill fort of the Durotriges, still comes closest with its finds of timber hall post holes and Mediterranean pottery. The period was right but still, one can never be certain. Wroxeter, a former Roman city with a Dark Age timber hall/villa seemed more likely to be the base of Vortigern rather than Arthur’s seat of power. The theory by a Scottish historian on Roxburgh castle, near Roman Trimontium, was also a bit of a stretch and had more Roman connections than anything. That said, Roman sites were often reused in the Dark Ages. A great deal of horse tack was found in the area of Roxburgh but other than that, the remains on the mound were of the medieval castle. Nothing is for certain, history being the most exciting kind of detective work, to my mind anyway.
|South Cadbury Castle|
“Arthur had the Round Table made, about which the British tell many a tale. There sat the vassals, all equal, all served. None of them could boast he sat higher than his peer; all were seated near the place of honour, none far away.”
|Roman Amphitheatre Caerleon, Wales|
The situation that Wace describes regarding tales of Arthur fits with our current dilemma:
“In this time of great peace that I speak of… the wondrous events appeared and the adventures were south out which, whether for love of his generosity, or for fear of his bravery, are so often told about Arthur that they have become the stuff of fiction: not all lies, not all truth, neither total folly not total wisdom. The raconteurs have told so many yarns, the story-tellers so many stories, to embellish their tales, that they have made it all appear fiction.”
This is where the historical novelist can let the imagination take over and fill in the gaps in the historical record. If you are going to write an Arthurian epic, there are more than enough romantic, mysterious and inspiring sites in every part of Britain. The trick would be to find the perfect blend of history and myth to make the world one creates authentic and entertaining at the same time. I’ll write more about this topic at a later date – I have loads of photos from visits to many of these sites that I can share with all of you.
For the moment I would like to say “Kudos!” to the Daily Telegraph for printing that story for in doing so, they have helped to rekindle interest in Arthurian studies (always a good thing) but have also helped to up the chances of further funding for the archaeological work going on at Stirling Castle.