Saturday, 19 April 2008
Arthur - as in King, and Excalibur
I went to an excellent lecture this afternoon, given by T M Charles-Edwards, an Oxford Professor. It was about the Welsh Arthur. That is - a Welsh princeling called Arthur - and one who was probably embroidered into the legendary King Arthur story. In fact, he could be one of several Welsh princelings of that name. It was a wonderful talk and I realized how little I knew about Welsh Saints, the Mabinogion - Welsh legends which appeared in The White Book of Rhydderch, c. 1350 and the Red Book of Hergest (1382 - 1410) and the connections with Irish legends and mythology. So now my brain is spinning with 100 white cattle with red ears - which was apparently an exchange demanded by the Welsh Arthur at one point, knowing they were "other wordly" and exotic - and the romances of Chretien de Troyes and references to places in Wales where this Arthur was connected. These were Cardigan Castle in West Wales, Caerleon in East Wales, and then Carlisle (up on the Scottish border) which was also in Wales, which must have dated back to the time of the Strathclyde British, when what we now know of as Cumbria and indeed right up to Glasgow, was part of this area.
Dinefwr Castle (above) was also mentioned, and they have white Park cattle there to this day, and to think of legends and all sorts happening on my doorstep is mind-blowing! So is the thought that these legends were in part collected by Lady Charlotte Guest and if the name rings a bell, it's because her husband was one of the Merthyr Ironmasters . . .
Which reminds me, how the people who built the house I live in (earliest written records date back to 1486, but we know they were living here in the 12th C, though not in this house, just on this site) claimed to be descended from Gwyddno Garanhir, who has his own history, and I shall tell you about it tomorrow, for he is part of legend too, and connected to Taliesin.