TOWARDS TWILIGHT

The True Camelot

a Camelot to find? Strictly speaking, probably not.

For one thing, "Camelot", along with Guinevere and Lancelot, was a confabulation of French romantics, no earlier than the twelfth century. Arthur, if he ever existed, was a figure of the sixth century.

If he ever existed?
Arthurians all over the world would bristle at the suggestion that the Once and Future King was a never and never again myth. But we have to face facts - and there are precious few.

Trouble is, there are so many Arthurs - from a mischievous Welsh chieftain, to a champion of Mediæval chivalry, to a Romano-British general, to a participant in a spiritual Euro-myth of quests, innocence and betrayal against a backdrop of a tragic struggle against the descent into barbarity.

Take your pick, mix and match. Make your own. Go on - everyone else has.

For the moment, let us admit of the possibility that there was a real Arthur. He would have been a general of British armies, attempting to stem the tide of barbarian invasion (Saxons, Angles, Frisians, Jutes), some time after the withdrawal of Roman administration in 410 A.D. There's plenty of evidence of success - there was a distinct period during the early sixth century when the advance of Germanic invasion was halted, perhaps even thrown back. But the identity of that general is tantalisingly hidden from history. Tradition has filled that gap with Arthur's name.

With some support from history, tradition characterises this as an extremely mobile war, ranging up and down the country from battle to battle. There are even some traditions which carry the fight across the channel into the invaders' homeland. Even so, a general needs a base, a winter retreat, a place to tend to wounds, a place to cuddle the wife. This is the "Camelot" we're looking for.

There are plenty of candidates - from Edinburgh (Arthur's Seat) to Tintagel in Cornwall, half a dozen sites in Wales and a rash of them across England. A great many of these are entirely fanciful - interesting local landscape features, spiced up with a half-baked tale. Others are more credible military sites - but lack the necessary strategic value.

The favourite candidate (my favourite candidate) is a place called Cadbury Castle.

It's quite a distance from the A361, so you may feel that "From Watford Gap to Camelot" has been a bit of a fraud. Sorry. But I hope I can justify the title before I'm finished.

Beyond Avalon Beyond Avalon Cadbury-Camelot Cadbury-Camelot
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