Saturday, July 2, 2016

An Arthur-like Figure in Cornwall (Notes, PT.6)

Modern day Cornwall, Cadbury Hill.

Lecture #2

(Please note, that proper names and locale names are likely spelled incorrectly due to a lack of written record on my part for how they are spelled; these are notes to an audio lesson, so I do not have any printed material to reference.)

1.       In order for the Arthur legend to be explored in some more detail, we need to understand the basics of the legend. What supposedly happened? In the town of Cornwall, it happened something like this: Uther Pendragon falls in love with the duke of Cornawall’s daughter, Egrain. For her own safety, Egrain’s father, the duke Gorall, sends her to a tower for her own safety. However, managing to climb past the defenses and enter the tower undetected, Uther eventually beds Egrain and from this consummation emerges Arthur.

2.       Switching over to what we know as fact, we find archeologists excavating the castle at Tindagle, a place with is supposedly relevant to the Arthur legend, and find many artifacts which suggest that the town was a heavily populated, metropolitan area. Researchers find a stone tablet which might have been connected to the real-world Arthur-figure since a name inscribed on the tablet included reference to an antiquated spelling of Arthur.

3.       For a long time, a place nearby to Tintadgle, called Cadbury Castle, has been called Camelot by the locales. From a bird’s eye view we see that this area was modified for defense; archeologists estimate that late in the fifth century, early in the sixth century, the hill was occupied and refortified for use against the Anglo-Saxon invaders. Incidentally, this hill was only one of few areas which were modified. Moreover, it was the center of operations for an organized resistance which was able to house over 700+ people and their families; considering that, at the time, the size of the average war-band was only 30-40 people, and that the leader was this band was able to feed, keep organized his large band, and remain alive, all while participating in battles, for decades, indicates a truly remarkable leader. Many researchers are almost positive that however this warband leader was, he was the template upon which the Arthur legend was made.

4.       In 1191 A.D., monks at Glausterberry Abbey, a place not too far from Cadbury Hill, claimed to have found the tomb of king Arthur. The monks claimed to have located the tomb with information obtained from King Henry the Second, which was passed to him by Welsh bards that had, allegedly, known of the location for centuries but kept it among themselves as a sort of trade secret. A historian at the monk’s dig, a man named Gerald, claimed to had found two skeletons: one large with a severe cranial wound, and another smaller with golden hairs which disintegrated into ash upon touching; skeletons, in other words, which were supposed to belong to Arthur and his second wife, Guinevere.

5.       The tablet discovered at the tomb, not only had it mentioned an archaic spelling of Arthur, one which would have been almost impossible for the monks to forge, also named the isle Avalon as his burial place; something which, in centuries prior, would have been correct, as at a certain point in its history, not only was Glausterberry called Avalon, but its surrounding area was flooded, making it for all intents and purposes, an isle.

6.       All though there is some speculation on whether the abbey monks forged the story to attract tourists to their downtrodden place, many believe this is unlikely for several reason. One, is that at least as far as the information on the cross, it is both historical accurate as well as impossible for the monks to forge—they manner in which Arthur’s name was written would have nearly been unknown to them. Secondly, after the discovery of the tomb, there is not much reference to the discovery after its initial announcement: it happened and then seemed to have faded. And thirdly, and this one is more creative, if it was the monks intent to forge a public relations stunt in order to attract people, and subsequently wealth, to their abbey, then why not, in the words of the course instructor, “go all in?” Why would they simply forge the Holy Grail? The area, after all, had long been associated with Biblical legends and it would not have been too difficult to forge a grail; surely, such a stunt would have been far more lucrative had it been their intention to attract tourists. And, finally, in the 1950s, an archeological dig did reveal that the monks had, in fact, dug into the abbey; what they allegedly found there is still, of course, up for debate since the bodies were supposedly lost under the monastic reforms under Henry the Eighth. But, it is undeniable that whatever happened in the region and in that abbey, there is strong evidence to support the existence of a real world Arthur-figure.

7.       (The stone tablet was called the Artogono stone)