The Quest For The Real King Arthur
This book, which is based on forty years or more of research by its co-authors, is the first really serious attempt, using primarily Welsh sources, to track down the historical King Arthur. Not surprisingly, given that there has been so much written about Arthur that is either mythological, misinformed or just plain wrong, tracking down the source of the legends has been no easy task. Early on it was decided that the best line of attack was to examine closely the surviving Welsh genealogies of his time (6th century), many of which have been preserved and which go back to before the Roman invasions. It was realised that the family trees of the various branches of the royal houses of Britain form a skeleton and that once this is reassembled, this could be fleshed out with the history of the times, much of which is also preserved though often in a confused form.
It should long ago have been recognised by historians that King Arthur, a British ruler who fought against the Saxons, if he existed at all was most likely to be Welsh. This was certainly the local tradition in Wales and was confirmed when the researchers examined another very important document called "The Llandaff Charters". This book, which was prepared by the Bishop of Llandaff (Cardiff's cathedral) in the early 13th century was presented to the pope as evidence of church ownership of lands seized by the Normans. It was based on the cathedral chartulary, a legal document recording all land grants made to the church by the local kings and nobles of Glamorgan going back to the late fifth and early sixth centuries. As when each grant was made it was witnessed by members of the royal family as well as senior clergy, the Book of Llandaff provides a "who's who" of the time in question. From this it was very easy to determine that there was a King Athrwys (Welsh for Arthur), who lived at the appropriate time and whose father was called Meurig (Maurice), grandfather Tewdrig (Theoderic) and mother Onbrawst. From all this information, as well as genealogies, such as those preserved in the Black Book of Carmarthen, it was possible to draw family trees.
After this, the researchers began looking for physical evidence for this Arthur and soon found plenty of it, mostly concentrated in the Glamorgan/Gwent region of South Wales. They found the location of the site of the fabled Camelot at a hill just north of Cardiff, and the site of the famous Battle of "Mons Badonis" at a site still named on maps as "Mynydd Baidan", along the Maesteg Valley near Bridgend. Most important of all they found what is his probable grave-site on a windy hilltop called Mynydd-y-Gaer. Here there were the ruins of an old church, which they subsequently bought from the church commissioners. Inside it they found a memorial stone with the Latin inscription "REX ARTORIUS FILI MAURICIUS". Though not grammatically correct, this could be understood as "King Arthur son of Maurice". It was clear that the king mentioned in this inscription could be none other than Athrwys (Artorius in Latin) who in the Llandaff Charters and other documents was similarly named as being the son of Meurig (Maurice).
This stone, which is tapered and shaped rather like a letter "T" with one arm broken off, is about five feet in length. Unfortunately the local archaeology department at Cardiff University showed scant interest in it. Fortunately Alan Wilson had other contacts and was able to show it to Dr. Eric Talbot, a senior archaeologist at Glasgow University. He was to write: "The discovery of the Arthur stone at St Peter's has led to much controversy. The writer is, he believes, the first person with relevant qualifications to have examined the stone at first hand. In the writer's opinion the inscription it bears is one in accord, by wear and lettering, with the period of Arthur."
Following this Eric Talbot agreed to lead a dig at the old church site to see if it could be established for certain that its foundation was as old as Wilson and Blackett believed. The dig was very successful, showing a sequence of buildings on the site going back to probably the second century AD. It had been hoped that the grave of Arthur would be found inside the building but firm evidence of this was not forthcoming. However what was found was a cross made from electrum with another Latin inscription "Pro anima Artorius", meaning "For the soul of Arthur".
This, coupled with the stone they found earlier was very good evidence for the church having an Arthurian connection. They now believe that he was actually buried nearby in a cave under what can still be seen as a small tumulus.
The Holy Kingdom covers a vast cornucopia of hitherto unpublished material relating to sites, objects, texts and genealogies going back to long before the Roman invasions of Britain and up to the Saxon take-over of England. Closely linked in is the real history of the advent of Christianity in Britain when Joseph of Arimathea (called St Ilid in Welsh) arrived at the court of King Caradoc of the Silures and organised the setting up of a "choir" or small monastery at what is now called Llantwit Major. This native Christian church flourished in Britain for centuries before St Augustine came to Kent with a fresh mission in AD 597 to set about converting the Saxons. Its legacies were many, including the Grail legends that which still stir the imagination.
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