Was Camelot a real place and what is the story of King Arthur? – The Sun | The Sun

FICTION or not, tales of King Arthur and his Camelot castle with its famous round table have always created much interest.

Tales of the king and his famed knights of the round table have sparked people's interest from generation to generation.

Was Camelot a real place?

The existence of Camelot  – where the Cornish king held court and had his round table – has been debated by academics for centuries.

Whether King Arthur actually existed also remains a matter of dispute.

The earliest reference to him was in a Welsh poem from AD594 called Y Gododdin.

In this poem it references the Battle of Catraeth (modern day Catterick in Yorkshire) and many historians do believe that Arthur could be from that area.

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Some people suggest the legendary figure may be based on a composite of real-life British rulers.

Others say the legend is likely to be based on a real king.

Historians have argued that Camelot, rather than being a purpose-built castle, would have been housed in a structure already built and left over by the Romans.

Camelot first appeared in 12th-century French romances and, after the Lancelot-Grail cycle, was described as the "fantastic capital" of Arthur's realm.



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Where is Camelot supposed to be located?

Many historians believe Camelot was in either Somerset, Winchester or Caerleon in South Wales.

Another likely location is Tintagel Castle in Cornwall where, in the late 80s, a 1,500-year-old piece of slate bearing two Latin inscriptions was found.

The second inscription on the slate read: "Artognou, father of a descendant of Coll, has had (this) made.”

King Coel – Old King Cole of the nursery rhyme – is said by Geoffrey of Monmouth to be one of Arthur’s ancestors.

Recent excavations have revealed pottery from the fifth and sixth centuries, suggesting Tintagel was inhabited during the Romano-British period.

In 2018, TV presenter Nick Knowles was ridiculed when he claimed King Arthur held court in Cirencester, Gloucs.

Nick said: “Me and a professor at Bristol University reckon Camelot is in Cirencester — and we can prove it.”

He claimed Arthur placed his round table in the middle of the fortified amphitheatre in the ex-Roman Cotswolds town.

But historian Adrian Grant accused Nick of confusing facts with fantasy.

He said: “I don’t know whether there was ever a round table, but I suspect not.”

And John Mappin, owner of Tintagel’s Camelot Castle hotel, said: “As everyone knows, King Arthur was Cornish.

"Camelot Castle sat and sits to this day at his birthplace — Tintagel. Recent digs and excavations have upheld this historical fact.”

He added: “Tintagel residents are more than a match for fake Roman news promoters from Cirencester.”

It's not the first time King Arthur has been uprooted from Cornwall, another historian claimed the round table legend was born in Barwick-in-Elmet near Leeds in 475 and NOT in Tintagel.

What is the story of King Arthur?

King Arthur's story has evolved into a magical fantasy tale through the History of the Kings of Britain by 12th century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth.

It brings us the excitement of excalibur.

One legend says Arthur pulled the sword from the stone to become King – others say he was given it by the lady in the lake.

The tales involves the knights of the round table and his wife, Guinevere.

Guinevere was the object of affection of one of his knights, called Lancelot.

But, traditionally, Arthur is said to have led the British when they defeated an invading Saxon army at the legendary Battle of Badon sometime between 490AD and 520AD.

Many scholars believe there may just actually have been a leader called Arthur (or Artorious in Latin) who existed.

The first and most famous reference to Arthur comes in the 9th century Historia Brittonum, which has been attributed in parts to Welsh monk Nennius.

In his retelling of Celtic Briton's history, he names Arthur as a military commander and not a king.

Arthur was actually chosen by native kings to be the leader in 12 battles against the Saxons, which are outlined by Nennius, ending in the Battle of Badon.

In the fighting at Badon, Arthur reportedly "killed 960 men" in one charge, according to the Historia Brittonum.

The 10th-century Annales Cambriae, chronicles composed at St David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, Wales, also names Arthur as the leader at Badon.

A stone discovered in 1998 at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, where he was conceived in medieval tradition, contained the inscription "Artognou" which some have linked to Arthur.

There are other fascinating potential references to an Arthur.

In the famous Welsh poem Y Gododdin, his name pops up again.

This was a tribute poem to warriors from the Brittonic Welsh kingdom of Gododdin who died fighting the northern Angle kingdoms of Deira and Bernica in the early seventh century.

It says one of the fallen comrades was "no Arthur".

Another Arthur reference pops up in an elegy for Geraint, a king of the southwest Celtic kingdom Dummonia, who died in 710AD.

A war leader Riothamus, linked to Britain or Brittany, who fought the Goths around 470AD, was considered a likely contender for the real-life Arthur because he was last recorded as being near the French town of "Avallon".

Arthur's final destination was Avalon.

Another contender to be Arthur, who has puzzled historians almost as much as the medieval warrior, is the mysterious Cerdic.

He founded a kingdom, which became Wessex and later England, around roughly the same 5th/6th century period.

While described as a Germanic invader, many historians suggest Cerdic, based on his name being derived from a Brittonic one "Ceretic£ and because his ancestry appears invented, was actually a native leader who staged a takeover with Saxon mercenaries.

What is Excalibur?

Excalibur is Arthur's magical sword – and it's from Excalibur that Arthur finds the power to finally defeat evil and assume his rightful position.

The origins of the mythical blade are thought to be Welsh.



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It’s first mention by Geoffrey of Monmouth is as “Caliburnus”, taken from the old Welsh “Caledfwich”, a magical sword that appeared in numerous Celtic myths.

Later writers adapted Caliburnus to Escalibor, and finally, Excalibur.


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