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Thread: King Arthur: A Scottish Legend?

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    King Arthur: A Scottish Legend?

    King Arthur: A Scottish Legend?

    King Arthur in a section dedicated to Scottish myths? Surely some mistake. Arthur and his legendary Knights are the most quintessentially English of legends are they not?

    Well, not necessarily.

    One thing that is generally agreed on is that Arthur's legend was based on a real historical character who probably existed around the sixth century, and it has long been assumed that he was either English, or more probably, a Welsh Briton.

    The problem is, no genuine character has ever been found who fits the profile and there is no real evidence at all to support the theory. Even the name Arthur appears nowhere in English records of the time, although supporters of the legend merely dismiss such detail by insisting that "Arthur" was simply based on someone of a different name. But why change the name of a legend? It just doesn't make sense to do so.

    There is compelling evidence, however, to suggest that the story of King Arthur was actually based on a character called Arturius, also known as Artuir, the son of King Aiden of Dalriada, a Scottish territory now known as Argyll.

    The Arthurian legend first took hold in the twelfth century thanks mainly to the writings of a certain Geoffrey of Monmouth. A great story-teller, Geoffrey wasn't about to let something as restrictive as the truth get in the way of a fantastic yarn, and it's fair to assume that more than a little "creative license" was put into play. With the passing of the centuries his fiction became ever more widely accepted by later chroniclers as fact.

    Monmouth placed Camelot firmly in the south of England, Cornwall to be precise, and Tintagel Castle has built a thriving tourist industry on the back of it.

    Unlike the tour buses and tacky souvenirs, however, the corroborating evidence simply isn't there.

    The (real) story of Arturius on the other hand does reveal inescapable similarities with the legendary King Arthur that are unmatched by any other historical character.

    Arturius was, like Arthur, the son of a powerful King and was, like Arthur, a Christian warrior in a mainly Pagan country.

    Arturius was an ally of King Urien, a genuine historical figure also mentioned in legend as being an ally of King Arthur.

    Arturius had a sister or half-sister called Morgan, as did King Arthur.

    Arturius died in battle against the Picts. In the legend, King Arthur died fighting Mordred, whose mother was married to the King of the Picts.

    The battle in which Arturius died took place in the Lothian region of southern Scotland. The ancient poem, the "Gododdin", concerning the Gododdin tribe who inhabited Wales, makes mention of Arthur as a great hero, and is often used as supporting evidence towards Arthur's Welsh origins. The Gododdin tribe, however, originally came from the Lothian region, and it is quite conceivable that Arturius died aiding Welsh Britons against the Picts, and may even have been the leader of a Celtic coalition between the Welsh and Scottish. This would easily explain "Arthur's" existence and standing in Welsh legend.

    Arturius is also mentioned in a 7th century chronicle about "The Life of Columba". Columba was a contemporary of and is believed to have acted as an adviser to Arturius' father, King Aiden. Columba's famed powers of prophecy and "miracle" workings make him a perfect model for the role of Merlin.

    So why would Monmouth so deliberately play down or ignore the true 6th century origins of his legendary creation?

    The answer isn't that hard to understand. By the 12th century, the English considered Scotland to be an aggressive inferior with a corrupted culture. A bit rich, coming from a country only recently invaded and taken over by the Norman French, but there you go.

    Such a background would have been totally at odds with the squeaky-clean paragon of virtue that was the hero-king of the legend. Scotland simply wasn't deemed to be capable of producing such a magnificent leader and was, in English eyes at least, entirely unworthy of laying claim to one.

    For the story of bold, chivalrous King Arthur to be accredited to a bunch of primitive, dirty, hairy Scots would have been an affront to southern standards.

    Simply not acceptable old chap, good heavens no.
    Far better, like that other great Scots legend, the Stone of Destiny itself, to simply move it south and steal it in its entirety.

    http://www.firstfoot.com/scotchmyth/arthur.htm

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    King Arthur a Scot?

    King Arthur

    Traditionally, he has been associated with Wales, Cornwall and south-western England, but southern Scotland is increasingly being seen as a rival setting for the real Arthur story.

    The first mention of Arthur comes in the sixth-century Welsh poem Y Gododdin where a great warrior is described as being "no Arthur" - a good fighter, but not as good as the great man. However, this poem is not actually set in Wales, instead telling of a tribe setting out from what is now Edinburgh and fighting in a glorious defeat at the hands of the Anglo-Saxon Northumbrians.

    Britonic tribes living in Scotland at the time spoke a Welsh-style language and the theory is that the story of Arthur became part of the shared cultural traditions of other such people living in Britain. As Welsh died out in Scotland, the setting for the stories moved south to the language's last remaining strongholds - in Wales, Cornwall and even Brittany.

    Scotland is littered with Arthurian place-names, from Edinburgh's famous Arthur's Seat to Ben Arthur and Camelon at Falkirk, which is similar to the famous castle of Camelot and also Camlann, where, according to some accounts, Arthur was killed in battle in 537 AD. It also has the only historical candidate: Artur mac Aiden, the son of a Scottish king and a Welsh-speaking Briton from the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde. However, he did live during the latter half of the sixth century, which is seen as too late by some experts on the legend.

    Guinevere is said to have been buried at Meigle and a Pictish standing stone showing a figure surrounded by four animals has been interpreted as depicting her gruesome execution - by being thrown into a pit of hunting dogs - in punishment for betraying Arthur.

    Stuart McHardy, the author of The Quest for Arthur, says: "If there was a real figure - and that's not 100 per cent - he was here [in Scotland]. I've no doubt about that.

    "What people have been looking at for many years is trying to locate the battles. If you can get a good fit for the battles, that kind of proves it.

    "If the stories are right - and the point of a story is not to be historically accurate - then after the final battle at Camelon, he was taken to Avalon. There's a good fit for Avalon in the Forth - the Isle of May."

    The Isle of May was historically associated with stories of "nine maidens", and Arthur is said to have been borne away by Morgan le Fay and her eight sisters.

    Arthur, if he was real, is not thought to have actually been a king, but an early Christian who, as the leader of a war-band, fought many battles against pagan tribes. Much of the modern-day story about a chivalric court of knights seated at a round table stems from Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, a mix of fact and fiction which starts with Britain being settled by Brutus, a descendant of the Trojan hero Aeneas.

    Geoffrey is thought to have been of Celtic Breton descent and, in Norman times, celebrating and perhaps embellishing the stories of a hero who fought the recently-conquered Saxons would have been politically astute.

    The first historic record of Arthur is merely a passing mention. The poet Aneirin, who lived from about 535 to 600, wrote in Y Gododdin that one warrior "fed black ravens [killed people] on the ramparts, although he was no Arthur".

    McHardy says: "Probably the most telling point [that Arthur lived in Scotland] is the earliest reference to him being from Edinburgh in Y Gododdin. The people up here spoke the same kind of language as people in Wales and Cornwall and people who share a language generally tend to share other cultural things, like mythology."

    Guinevere's supposed grave at Meigle is actually known as Vanora's Mound, but the story goes that she changed her name before being executed for betraying Arthur with Mordred. Her death may even have been recorded on the carved Pictish stone found at Meigle. "It shows a gowned figure surrounded by four animals. They have been interpreted as lions because they have powerful shoulders and some people say it is Daniel in the lion's den," McHardy says. "Other people say it is Vanora. She was torn to pieces by a pack of wild dogs and they [the animals] could just as well be hunting dogs."

    The name Merlin first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's book as Merlinus, a character thought to have been based partly on a wild-man called Myrddin. Geoffrey apparently changed the name because it was too similar to the vulgar French word merde.

    Myrddin, who is not specifically linked with Arthur in the earliest stories, is portrayed in medieval Welsh-language poems as a prophet who lived in the Caledonian forest in the sixth century. While not much hard evidence of Arthur is to be found anywhere - France and Italy both claim him, in addition to Scotland, England and Wales - the clan McArthur claims to be descended from him.

    Clan historian Hugh McArthur believes Artur mac Aiden is the source of the stories, but that his role in forcing people to convert to Christianity was left out of written church records and only survived in the oral storytelling tradition. "The information we have about Arthur is pretty vague. It's almost as if he's been written out of history and you find the same about the historical Artur mac Aiden," he says.

    "Christianity was delivered at the point of a sword in Scotland, but it was written down as being handed over a lot more peacefully. There is an old proverb in Argyll that there's none older than the hills, the devil and McArthur. That dates it. The devil arrived with Christianity and so McArthur is as old as Christianity in Scotland. It all kind of fits together."

    Source

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    Re: King Arthur a Scot?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurd Eirikson View Post
    King Arthur
    Traditionally, he has been associated with Wales, Cornwall and south-western England, but southern Scotland is increasingly being seen as a rival setting for the real Arthur story.
    He has always been associated with everywhere in Britain, save the very easternmost parts.
    The first mention of Arthur comes in the sixth-century Welsh poem Y Gododdin where a great warrior is described as being "no Arthur" - a good fighter, but not as good as the great man. However, this poem is not actually set in Wales, instead telling of a tribe setting out from what is now Edinburgh and fighting in a glorious defeat at the hands of the Anglo-Saxon Northumbrians.
    The poem concerns an army gathered in Lothian [which would have been 'Wales' to the English of the time anyway], fighting on the frontier between British [i.e. 'Wales'] and English teritory. There was NO Scotland, yet.
    Scotland is littered with Arthurian place-names, from Edinburgh's famous Arthur's Seat to Ben Arthur and Camelon at Falkirk, which is similar to the famous castle of Camelot and also Camlann, where, according to some accounts, Arthur was killed in battle in 537 AD.
    How old are these names? Camelon can't be similar to both Camelot AND Camlann!

    A better candidate for Camlann is the Hadrian's Wall fort now known as Birdoswald in Cumberland. It's Roman name was Camboglanna, which would develop smoothely into Welsh Camlann. However, it translates very simply as Crooked Valley, and so there may well have been tens of these across Britain in those days.
    It also has the only historical candidate: Artur mac Aiden, the son of a Scottish king and a Welsh-speaking Briton from the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde. However, he did live during the latter half of the sixth century, which is seen as too late by some experts on the legend.
    The dates, and the application of common sense, mean that Aedan's son was named after Arthur. The Dal Riada Irish of the time occasionally named their British born sons with Pictish, Welsh, and even English names. If an Irish king wanted to give his son a local name, that of a famous military hero would obviously be tempting.
    Guinevere is said to have been buried at Meigle and a Pictish standing stone showing a figure surrounded by four animals has been interpreted as depicting her gruesome execution - by being thrown into a pit of hunting dogs - in punishment for betraying Arthur.
    Gwynhwyfar's name is the same as the Irish otherworld character Finnabair, and translates as White Spirit. She never lived.
    "What people have been looking at for many years is trying to locate the battles. If you can get a good fit for the battles, that kind of proves it.
    His battles were all over Britain. Wherever there was a foreign enemy he was there, that was his job! The oldest stories link him with Badon, where he repulsed the Saxons. This fits very well with the pause in conquest by the West Saxons after 500.
    "If the stories are right - and the point of a story is not to be historically accurate - then after the final battle at Camelon, he was taken to Avalon. There's a good fit for Avalon in the Forth - the Isle of May."

    The Isle of May was historically associated with stories of "nine maidens", and Arthur is said to have been borne away by Morgan le Fay and her eight sisters.
    Again we are wandering into Celtic mythology. ALL islands are somehow sacred in this context!
    The first historic record of Arthur is merely a passing mention. The poet Aneirin, who lived from about 535 to 600,
    Too early a floruit. Aneirin was an active young man in 600, when he took part in the battle of Catraeth which he celebrates in Y Gododdin.
    McHardy says: "Probably the most telling point [that Arthur lived in Scotland] is the earliest reference to him being from Edinburgh in Y Gododdin.
    The poem says NO SUCH THING.
    Myrddin, who is not specifically linked with Arthur in the earliest stories, is portrayed in medieval Welsh-language poems as a prophet who lived in the Caledonian forest in the sixth century.
    Myrddin is as strongly associated with the Lake District.
    "Christianity was delivered at the point of a sword in Scotland, but it was written down as being handed over a lot more peacefully. There is an old proverb in Argyll that there's none older than the hills, the devil and McArthur. That dates it. The devil arrived with Christianity and so McArthur is as old as Christianity in Scotland. It all kind of fits together."
    Source
    What absurd reasoning...

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    Re: King Arthur a Scot?

    It is possible "Arthur" was several warlords who over time became conflated into one legend.
    Wita sceal geþyldig, ne sceal no to hatheort ne to hrædwyrde, ne to wac wiga ne to wanhydig, ne to forht ne to fægen, ne to feohgifre ne næfre gielpes to georn, ær he geare cunne. Beorn sceal gebidan, þonne he beot spriceð, oþþæt collenferð cunne gearwe hwider hreþra gehygd hweorfan wille.

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