King Arthur

King Arthur

England’s Mythology is imbued with the spirit of the legendary ruler “King Arthur” of their country in every aspect of its history. According to legend, Medieval histories, Romances, and the faith of the people, it was King Arthur who led the defense of Britain from the Saxon invasions during the 5th-6th centuries C.E. Some claim it is merely stories, others debate he actually existed. The tales within however are definitely saturated with folklore, literary invention, fantasy, and fables. Numerous documents claim he really did exist such as the Annales Cambriae, Historia Brittonum, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), Y Gododdin, Gildas, and many others.

Most of the tales depict a young boy turned great Warrior who mystically pulls a sword from the stone and is placed on the throne of Britain. Welsh folklore associates him with the Welsh Otherworld Annwn. He defeats the Saxons and establishes the British Empire ruling over England, ireland, Iceland, Norway, and Gaul. Arthur the boy was born at Tintagel, inherits roles from his father Uther Pendragon, guided by the wizard Merlin and becomes king, marries Guinevere and rules with the magical sword Excalibur at his side. He has a final battle with Mordred at Camlann, and is put to rest in Avalon (Glastonbury). The famous stories of Sir Lancelot and the Holy Grail was added into the story line by 12th century French writer Chr├ętien de Troyes.

The French storytelling takes the focus off of King Arthur and makes more importance of the Knights of the Round Table. The stories empowered the people and thrived as motivation from the Medieval Age onwards. After it died out in popularity it saw a resurgence in the 21st century through Hollywood, books, comics, movies, TV shows, and media.

Legends of King Arthur surround Glastonbury as many believe it to have been Avalon with links suggesting the medieval monks of the Glastonbury Abbey having a connection to Arthur and that the abbey was founded by Joseph of Arimathea during the 1st century. Archaeological evidence suggests the abbey was founded by Britons early 7th century C.E. even though Roman and Saxons had occupied the site through its course in history. Many myths and legends place it as the setting for King Arthur tales and the Holy Grail. Archaeology tells us that Glastonbury fell into the hands of the Saxons during the Battle of Peonnum 658 C.E. as far west as the River Parrett and allowed the British Abbot Bregored to remain in power during the time. Bregored died in 669 C.E. and replaced by Berhthwald, an Anglo-Saxon abbott for several years.

Legend has it that King Arthur’s tomb as well as Queen Guinevere are buried beneath the High Altar. This was recorded in 1191 C.E. by Giraldus Cambrensis in the De Principis instructione where the Abbott henry de Sully discovered a massive hollow oak trunk containing two skeletons 16 feet beneath the altar, above it under the covering stone was a leaden cross with unmisstakenable inscription “Hic jacet sepultus inclitus rex Arthurus in insula Avalonia” (Here lies interred the famous King Arthur on the Isle of Avalon). Archaeologists and Historians claim it was merely a publicity stunt at the time to raise funds to repair the Abbey from the fire.

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