The fabled lord of Camelot might be a figure of folklore, however there are components of fact to his legend. Archaeologist and historian Miles Russell states that King Arthur is a composite of five Dark Age characters
From weding ‘Guinevere’ to his invasion of Gaul, a lot of the landmark occasions in the King Arthur story may have happened– but to other people. Here, archaeologist and historian Miles Russell reveals the 5 crucial characters whose lives have been absorbed into the Arthurian story.
The character of King Arthur, the heroic leader, slowly progressed in oral tradition as individuals commemorated and celebrated the extremely real fifth-century warlord Ambrosius Aurelianus. Aurelianus was “a gentleman”, the sixth-century writer Gildas assures us, being “one of the last of the Romans” whose moms and dads had actually unquestionably “used the purple”. Wearing the purple was a euphemism for being emperor, the clothing dye being so expensive that it was reserved for the leader of state.
The reality that Gildas describes Aurelianus’s parents in this method suggests that they possessed significant authority, probably as fourth-century usurpers or rebel emperors holding power in Britain. Gildas keeps in mind that Aurelianus was a successful basic, beating Saxon armies on numerous celebrations, the biggest victory being the siege of Mount Badon. Regrettably, we don’t know who was besieging whom, nor indeed where ‘Mount Badon’ was (although Geoffrey of Monmouth later claims it was at Bath), but it was clearly a major engagement and was much well known, later ending up being an essential moment in Arthur’s career.
By the ninth century, it is clear that the historic Aurelianus and the legendary Arthur were already starting to take different paths. In the Historia Brittonum( History of the Britons) assembled by Nennius, ‘Arthur’ has obtained a variety of fights, chief amongst which was Aurelianus’s victory at Mount Badon.
Nennius also tells us that Aurelianus was battling British enemies, worst of which was King Guorthigirnus (Vortigern), the male who first welcomed the Saxons to Britain. Geoffrey of Monmouth (who calls his hero Aurelius Ambrosius), says that Vortigern tried to hide in “the castle of Genoriu” however was besieged there, dying as his fortress burnt around him. Having defeated the tyrant, Ambrosius Aurelianus established himself as master of Britain, reconstructing London while doing so. In a grand ceremony, staged within Stonehenge, Aurelianus was crowned king.
Remarkably, historical evidence recommends that the internal bluestone setting at Stonehenge was modified in the post-Roman period. By the time Geoffrey of Monmouth composed down the coronation story, it was the excellent sarsens of Stonehenge that were carried to Salisbury Plain from Ireland (with aid from the wizard Merlin).
Camelot, the famous court and castle of King Arthur, was a peerless seat of chivalry. If it did exist, where might it have been built?
Arvirargus, or Togodumnus, was a British king from the very first century AD who, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, signed up with forces with the Roman emperor Claudius to rule over the Orkneys. Returning house, Arvirargus married the Roman woman Gewissa, a ‘terrific appeal’. In the Historia, Arthur signed up with forces with Hoel to rule over Ireland prior to returning home to marry Ganhumara, a ‘great charm’.
Constantine (later on ‘ Constantine the Great‘) was proclaimed emperor by his men at York in ADVERTISEMENT306 Taking soldiers from Britain and Gaul, he progressed Rome, eliminating the western emperor Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge in ADVERTISEMENT 312, prior to defeating the eastern emperor Licinius 12 years later on. Much of his project, from York to Rome, is later on mirrored because of Arthur.
In AD 383, Magnus Maximus, a Roman officer in Britain, was unlawfully proclaimed emperor. Identified to capture Rome, Maximus took an army to Gaul where he battled and killed the emperor Gratian. Later on, in the Historia Regum Britanniae, Arthur, figured out to capture Rome, takes an army to Gaul where he fights and eliminates the emperor Lucius Hiberius.
A warrior king from the first century BC, Cassivellaunus declined to commemorate Rome, just to see his kingdom assaulted. On the edge of defeating the Roman army, Cassivellaunus was betrayed by his treacherous nephew, Mandubracius. Later on, in the Historia, we hear that Arthur, declining to commemorate Rome, sees his kingdom assaulted. On the verge of defeating the Roman army, he is betrayed by his treacherous nephew Mordred.
Dr Miles Russell is a senior speaker in prehistoric and Roman archaeology at Bournemouth University and author of Arthur and the Kings of Britain: the Historic Reality Behind the Myths ( Amberley Publishing, 2017)