The legend the King Arthur, a fifth-century warrior king who supposedly led the fight against Saxon invaders, proceeds to fascinate today. However how much fact is over there to the legends of the "once and future king"? We find out with experts John Matthews and Miles Russell...

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Arthur, sometimes recognized as ‘the king the was and the king that shall be’, is recognised all over the human being as one of the most famous characters of myth and also legend. Yet, if he existed at every (which few scholars agree upon), he would not have been a king, but the command of one elite force of fighting men. Furthermore, the would have lived an ext than 500 years prior to medieval legends suggest.

Who to be King Arthur – and was the real?

All the is known, with also the least degree of certainty, is the a male named Arthur, or Arturus, led a band of heroic warriors that spearheaded the resistance of Britons against the invading Saxons, Jutes, and also others native the phibìc of Europe, sometime in the fifth and sixth century AD.

Another theory cases that Arthur was a roman centurion called Lucius Artorius Castus, that fought versus the Picts top top Hadrian’s wall surface in the 2nd century AD, part 300 years previously than the time at i beg your pardon Arthur’s dates are generally set.

Even Arthur’s birthplace and base the operations space questionable. Camelot – the castled city associated with King Arthur – to be likely invented by the 12th-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes. Arthur’s association through Cornwall and also parts of Wales is an idea fostered by 18th-century antiquarians such as William Stukeley, who lugged out one of the very first archaeological investigations at Cadbury lock in Somerset, long believed in regional folklore to be the original site that Camelot.

Camelot, the legendary court and also castle of King Arthur, was a peerless seat of chivalry. If the did exist, where might it have been built?


Some 150 knights were said to have actually sat in ~ the ring Table. Their adventures command us into a magical kingdom of wonder: wherein ‘faery women’ check the nobility of the knights by providing them seemingly difficult tasks, and strange creatures lurk in the shadows of a huge forest, in who depth space clearings whereby castles, chapels, hermitages, and also ruins are discovered – part empty, rather containing dangerous foes.

When they had largely rid the floor of monsters, dragons, and also evil customs, the knights took on their greatest task of every – the quest for the holy Grail. Plenty of did not return.


Who to be the ‘faery women’ that Arthurian legend?

Many faery females thread together the stories of Arthur and also his knights. This is probably since a an excellent number that the stories originated not in Britain, but in Brittany – or, together it was well-known then, Armorica or Aermorica, where id in old deities and the faery gyeongju lived on.

These faery tales became interwoven v stories of chivalry lover by the courtly circle. In ~ the courtly circle these stories were told by roving troubadours – poets who learned dozens of Arthurian tales by heart.


It to be c1150 Geoffrey that Monmouth called nine sister in his Vita Merlini as the rulers that the fascinating island that Avalon. Among them to be Morgen (more acquainted to united state as Morgan le Fay), who in later on stories is explained as Arthur’s half-sister and also becomes his most implacable foe. Sir cutting board Malory, in his good 15th-century novel, Le Mort D’Arthur, tells us Morgan to be “put to college on a nunnery, wherein she learned magic and necromancy”.

Though this may sound strange to us today, countless of the females in attached orders were learned, and since learning was generally equated through magic, therefore Morgan became considered a sorceress.

Archaeologist Dr mile Russell talks to us about his bold brand-new theory on legendary British leader King Arthur, which is based upon a reinterpretation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History the the kings of Britain.

The greatest task undertaken by Arthur’s knights to be the search for the grail, a secret vessel connected to the enthusiasm of Christ . Follow to the 12th-century poet Robert De Boron, the grail was used to memory the critical Supper, and afterwards by Christ’s ‘uncle’, Joseph of Arimathea, to record some that the blood that flowed native the Saviour as his body was taken down from the cross.

But go you know that earlier stories, from the mythology of the Celts, have the right to be seen as precursors that the grail? They spoke of “cauldrons the plenty” that detailed food because that heroes and also could even carry the dead to life. However once the links with Christian id were developed in the 12th century, the grail came to be a divine relic sought by mystics and also heroes – and, many famously, through Arthur’s fellowship.

All 150 knights the the ring Table are stated to have gone forth looking for the sacred vessel after ~ it showed up at Camelot throughout Pentecost . That those that went forth just three succeeded in their pursuit to discover the grail: the saintly knight teacher Galahad, the simple Sir Percival, and the honest, plain-spoken teacher Bors.

Many various other knights perished, and this indeed weakened both the round Table and Arthur’s court, preparing the way for the dark days to come once Arthur’s illegitimate son Mordred increased up versus him and ended the dream the Camelot.


Lancelot and also Guinevere – what happened and what ended up being of them?

The love story the Lancelot and Guinevere, originating in France, came to be one of the finest known the the Arthurian tales. Lancelot to be the greatest knight of the ring Table and Arthur’s many trusted ally, yet it to be his illegal love because that Queen Guinevere the made that famous.

Later versions of the story extended Lancelot and also Guinevere’s love into a full-blown affair, i beg your pardon in the end carried down the ring Table and also ushered in the end of Arthur’s reign as soon as Lancelot rescued the queen, who had actually been condemned to burn at the stake, and also in the procedure killed number of of Arthur’s knights. With the king reluctantly required to assault Lancelot, the method was left open up for Mordred to strike Camelot.

But did you know that in early on versions that the legend, Guinevere spurns Lancelot?

The 12th-century poet Chrétien de Troyes offered us one account of your romance in his Lancelot, or the Knight the the Cart (c1177). No stories before this feature Lancelot, therefore we must assume that Chrétien designed him.

Chrétien’s story speak a dramatic story of Guinevere’s abduction by a lord called Melwas, who had fallen in love through the queen, and also of Lancelot’s initiatives to rescue her. In stimulate to with Melwas’ castle, wherein she is held, Lancelot is compelled to ride in a dare – a automobile reserved for criminals top top their method to the gallows. Yet Lancelot hesitates because that a moment, and also when Guinevere learns of this this later on she spurns him as not worthy of her affections.

Love stories function a good deal in the Arthurian world. Tristan and Isolde, for example, best known this days from Wagner’s 1859 opera that retold their story, were famed doomed lovers.


The fight of Camlann is said to have been King Arthur’s last battle. Weakened by the casualty incurred during the search for the grail, and then by the scandal of Lancelot and Guinevere, Arthur’s kingdom started to rest apart.

War damaged out after Lancelot staged an armed rescue that Guinevere, condemned to death for she treasonous love because that the good knight. In the warmth of fight Lancelot eliminated two that Arthur’s best men, Gareth and also Gaheris, that had protected the queen. Your brother, the famous knight teacher Gawain, thus came to be Lancelot’s most bitter foe, and as Arthur was forced to respond to Lancelot’s rescue that the queen, the reluctantly led an army to France to attack him.

While Arthur and also Gawain were far attacking Lancelot, King Arthur’s son, Mordred, raised an army and declared self king. Through the hasty return the the true king come Britain, a final fight took location at Camlann. Arthur killed Mordred, however suffered a wound that seemed most likely to death him – though in the end he was taken to Avalon to it is in healed.

There adheres to one that the most famed scenes in the entire series of Arthurian stories: Arthur’s faithful follower, teacher Bedivere, litter the king mighty sword back into the lake native which it had actually come at the start of his reign (given that by the Lady that the Lake). A mysterious hand rises from the water and seizes the sword, drawing it under.

A ship climate appears, carrying 3 queens, who take the hurt Arthur away, throughout the sea come the fabled Isle the Avalon, whereby it is stated he would certainly be healed of his wounds and live on, awaiting recall by his nation in time of need – the ‘once and future king’ indeed.

Belief in Arthur’s expected return to his nation was preserved alive in stories for many years by the world of Britain. Arthur’s bones to be supposedly found at Glastonbury Abbey in 1191, despite this was nothing an ext than a fabrication designed to quell the belief that Arthur would return to expel the invading Normans. Nevertheless, some bones were indeed interred in a black marble dig in 1278 in ~ the expense of Edward I.

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To this day, countless new books, films, tv shows and also plays continue to be created about King Arthur, including to the popularity of the legends, i beg your pardon remain among the most familiar and also best-loved story of all time.