He is first mentioned in passing in a 7th-century Welsh poem called Y Gododdin. Gwawrddur is a brave knight, says a verse, but he is not as brave as Arthur. And that’s all.
He gets better representation in the 9th-century History of the Britons, which records his triumph at the Battle of Badon, traditionally located just outside Bath or in Wiltshire. According to this account, Arthur personally slaughtered 960 Anglo-Saxon invaders.
The legend most familiar today was created by the 12th century historian Geoffrey of Monmouth and embellished by the French poet Chrétien de Troyes and Sir Thomas Malory, author of Le Morte d’Arthur.
It is from these sources that we get Lancelot and Guinevere, the Knights of the Round Table, the sword Excalibur, and the idea that Arthur was wounded in battle and taken to the Isle of Avalon, where he died. and was buried.
Ah yes, Avalon. There are probably more places named Arthur’s Tomb than the Knights of the Round Table had hot dinners, but perhaps the most famous claim was made in 1191 by the monks of the Abbey of Glastonbury.
How fortunate that the bodies of Arthur and Guinevere were discovered just when the abbey ran out of money and needed major repairs after a devastating fire. And how cynical to attribute the invention of the marketing department to the Benedictine order.
Another claim is made for Craig y Ddinas in the Brecon Beacons. Beneath this rock wall, legend has it that Arthur and his knights rest until they rise and save Britain. In light of recent events, you might be wondering what’s holding them back.
Or are they under Richmond Castle in Yorkshire? Or Cadbury Castle, an Iron Age fort in Somerset? Or is it just one of the sleeping king myths that are common across the world?
Perhaps the most popular Arthurian site is Tintagel Castle in Cornwall. Yet the connection here isn’t just thin – it’s essentially celebrating a rape. It’s a surprise Tintagel hasn’t been cancelled. It was to this site that Duke Gorlois of Cornwall, an ally of Arthur’s father, King Uther Pendragon, is said to have sent his beautiful wife, Igerna, for safety. Perhaps after noticing Pendragon’s lustful interest.