Arthur: mythical hero, legendary king. But was he, as the legends claimed, an actual Dark-Age Briton? From Glastonbury and Tintagel to the supposed sites of Arthur's Camelot and his famous battles, this book investigates how archaeologists have interpreted the evidence. Might new discoveries and the latest theories finally reveal the real King Arthur?
For 800 years the controversy over Arthur's existence has ebbed and flowed. Rusty swords, imposing ruins, the Round Table, even Arthur's body itself were offered as proof that he had once reigned over Britain. The quest was revived by the scientific archaeologists of the 1960s. Just as Greek legends had led to the discovery of Troy, so might the romances lead to Camelot. This optimism did not last. Sceptics poured scorn on the obscure manuscripts and strong imagination on which the questers relied. For 30 years academics closed ranks against King Arthur.
The discovery at Tintagel of a mysterious slate, inscribed with names from the Arthurian legends, shook this scepticism to its roots. Was it a clue at last? This book argues that it is time to reassess the possibility of a real King Arthur and acknowledge the importance his legends still hold for us today.
Christopher Gidlow is the author of The Reign of Arthur. A life-long enthusiast for the Middle Ages and the Arthurian Legends, he studied history at Oxford and archaeology at Leicester. He is the Live Interpretation Manager of Historic Royal Palaces, presenting the past in engaging ways at Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London.