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.


Bernard (Byn) Walters said...

You said "Welsh Arthur", but it doesn't really matter as you got quickly to the point.There was no 'Wales' until we were invaded by the Angles, Jutes and Saxons.All the western seaboard was 'British' Strathclyde (Ystrad Clud)down through Cumbria, Cambria, Cornwall (The horn,peninsular, of Wales and 'Little Britain in Armorica. William Wallace was 'The Welshman'.

Pam said...

I love history and so want to visit Scotland, Ireland, England, well ALL of Europe! You live in a fairytale land!
Have you ever heard of Hever's Castle outside of London? While visiting our amusement park here, I sat on a bench with a dear lady from London who told me about Hever's Castle. I plan to go do a Google search about it now.
God bless!

Bovey Belle said...

Pam - you mean Hever Castle, in Kent. It's where Ann Boleyn (Henry VIII's 2nd wife, who lost her head - but did give birth to Elizabeth I before doing so) grew up. If you Google it, I am sure you will find lots of references. Philippa Gregory wrote "The Other Boleyn Girl" and other novels set in this period and about the Boleyn family. It's now a film too, but I've not seen it.

Byn - the title of the lecture was the Welsh Arthur. I think the true identities - for these Arthurs were a composite, I am sure - have been lost as there was so little recorded about them, and Mallory and Giraldus Cambrensis have muddied the waters for all time.

MammyT said...

I recognize the legend about the church bells, but I thought it was from another part of the world. Though I can't remember where. perhaps there is more than one of those legends, too.