CAMELOT

A vision of Camelot
Lancelot: Look, my liege! Arthur: Camelot! Galahad: Camelot! Lancelot: Camelot! Patsy: It's only a model. -Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Scene 6

The ideal of Camelot has fascinated people for centuries. Camelot is just that--an ideal, a model. The name describes a symbol rather than a place. If King Arthur did exist, his stronghold would not have resembled the image of a many spired palace in any way. Arthur's world would have been one of harsh living conditions and near constant warfare.

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Arthur was conceived by Uther Pendragon and Ygerna, wife of Gorlois, at a well-defended Cornish fortress. This fortress was called Tintagel, and we made a point to see it. The rest of the story is well-known--Arthur becomes a great warrior and ruler and set up the idealistic realm of Camelot. Camelot in it's popular conception almost certainly didn't exist, but there are several sites that claim to be the historical Arthur's principal stronghold. Among these are Cadbury Castle, Castle Killibury, and Caerleon. On our trip in 2001, we visted some other claimants for Camelot: the Roman city of Viroconium in Shropshire and Rough Castle, a Roman Fort near Camelon. Other sites have less substantial claims; notably Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh.


BIRTHPLACE

Tintagel

Legendary and Historical Background
'Who can possibly give you useful advice,' answered Ulfin, 'when no power on earth can enable us to come to her
where she is inside the fortress of Tintagel? The castle is built high above the sea, which surrounds it on all
sides, and there is no other way in except that offered by a narrow isthmus of rock. Three armed soldiers could
hold it against you, even if you stood there with the whole kingdom of Britain at your side.'
                                  -Ulfin to Uther Pendragon in Geoffrey of Monmouth, page 206.

Tintagel RockGeoffrey of Monmouth makes Tintagel the fortress of Gorlois, husband of Ygerna, the object of Uther Pendragon's lust. Merlin transformed Uther into the image of Gorlois so that the king might fool Ygerna and take her to bed. The plan succeeded, and Arthur was conceived. Though this story is the first to associate Arthur with Tintagel, Geoffrey may have been calling on earlier legends that claimed the site as a stronghold of Dark Age Cornish rulers. Some scholars contend that Tintagel was Camelot itself. In addition to legends about Arthur, there are also legends that name Tintagel as one of King Mark's strongholds, which further supports the notion that the site has a history as a Cornish stronghold.

Such legends have been supported by archeology. Excavations in the 1930s unearthed a wealth of what is now known as "Tintagel pottery." This pottery is Mediterranean in origin, and contained wine, oil, or other products or was simply used for show. The presence of so much of this pottery is indicative of prosperity in the 5th and 6th centuries, the time of Arthur. This suggests occupation by the right people at the right time. It is assumed that the vast stores of Cornish Tin was used for bartering; the greatest concentration of pottery in Britain is in this region. Such pottery has also been found elsewhere on the island, notably at Cadbury Castle, where it indicates the same type of prosperity. Foundations of Dark Age hut-type buildings have been found as well, and a fire that once swept over the area revealed many more than were initially assumed; most of the area was covered.

Perhaps the most exciting recent archeological find was in July 1998. A team from Glasgow University uncovered a sixth-century slab with this inscription:

The inscription found at Tintagel

PATER COLI AVI FECIT ARTOGNOV

To see the BBC News report of this find in RealVideo, click here.

The words have been translated to mean "Artognou, father of a descendant of Coll, has had this [building] made" (qtd. in Castleden, 225). Furthermore, the name "Artognou" was probably pronounced "Arthnou." This stone proves that there was a relatively well-educated and wealthy person there in the sixth century with a name that may have sounded like Arthur. It does not prove that the legendary King Arthur lived at Tintagel; Art and Arth were fairly common prefixes to the names of Dark Age rulers. Mostly, the stone is just another piece of evidence that Tintagel was a wealthy Dark Age stronghold.

There was a long held belief that Tintagel was originally used as a Celtic Monastery. A cluster of burials was found near the chapel, and it was thought that these were the graves of saints that pilgrims came to visit. There was also evidence of extensive agriculture, which is often found in conjunction with monastic sites. Recently, this idea has been rejected by many scholars, since, according to O.J. Padel in Bromwich, et al., "The site has none of the attributes recognized as characteristic of Dark-Age monastic settlements in Wales and Cornwall, such as an enclosed curvilinear cemetery, a place-name suggesting ecclesiastical associations, perhaps a contemporary inscription, or indications in the historical record" (230).The most recent ruins of Tintagel

The site has a history as a defensive stronghold. This is evident in the name itself, which, literally translated, means "fort of the constriction" (a combination of "din" and "tagell"). After the Dark Age occupation evidenced by the Mediterranean pottery, there was a period of inactivity and abandonment. Around 1230, a castle was built probably by Richard, Earl of Cornwall and son of King Henry III. The ruins on the island today are from this castle. Thus, when Geoffrey of Monmouth was writing in the 1100s, this castle would not have been there and legend would be the main association of the island with a stronghold. The prominent feature of the island in his day was probably a large, landward embankment that defended the narrow neck from an attack.

The Dark Age era of Tintagel is interesting in that the fort design is reminiscent of the refortified Iron Age hillforts that appear all over England. Archeology has shown that these forts were occupied in the pre-Roman years, but Tintagel has yielded no such evidence. So, even though there was no known pre-Roman occupation of the area, it seems to copy the style that seemed to be popular during the time.

For more information, consult Rodney Castleden's book, which has one of the most recent evaluations of the evidence. For a more archeological approach, see The Quest for Arthur's Britain. Bibliography.

Location and Description

The town of Tintagel is north of the A39 and the town of Camelford. From Camelford, there are signs to Tintagel along the B3263. There is parking in town where a shuttle runs to the castle, or you can walk about a mile to the end of the town, down to the coast. The castle opens at 10 during January and there is an admission fee of a few pounds.

To see a Streetmap.co.uk map of the area around Tintagel, click here

The first time we saw Tintagel it was lit only by moonlight. After we checked into the Cornishman Inn, we decided to go exploring. We put on our biggest coats to combat the wind and followed the sound of the crashing waves to the cliffside. We walked by Tintagel Church and somehow managed to walk into the middle of a patch of brambles. We decided not to press any farther toward the water because we couldn't exactly see where the cliff dropped off to the sea. The Rock was off to our right. We couldn't see very much detail, but we could tell that it would have made a very formidable stronghold.

The isthmus across to the RockWe returned to the castle the next morning. There was an outer defense on a small hill (the "Upper Ward") that had well-preserved walls and stairs going up to the top. From here there is an excellent view of the ruins. There is a recently constructed wooden bridge that lets you walk over the land bridge. We could only imagine how difficult it would be to get a horse, much less an army, across. After crossing the bridge, we came to a steep set of steps that were integrated into the cliff face and took you to the main door of the medieval castle. Looking back down from this point, we saw just how narrow and precarious the land bridge actually was.

The first ruins the visitor sees are of the castle built by Richard in the 1200s. This is a relatively small area, with several well defined rooms and major portions of walls still standing. This is known as the "Inner Ward." From there you can go off to the right, down towards, the ocean, and see the gates and defenses of the docking area. We could not imagine anyone ever having to (much less being able to) dock a boat there.

The oldest structures on the island are on top of the plateau. There are numerous foundations of old buildings; one was The Tunnel at Tintageldistinctly a chapel. It was a small building, perhaps 10x15 feet. There was a stone altar at the head of the chapel that looked out over the jagged coastline. There are several wells on top, and also a tunnel cut into the rock. This tunnel is open at both ends and goes through the rock for probably 30 feet, though the ceiling has collapsed over about half the length. One popular opinion is that is was used as a meat cellar, as the temperature inside would have been significantly cooler.

The views from the island are simply spectacular; there is no way to emphasize that enough.

We also made the perilous trek down the cliffs to Merlin's Cave when the tide was out. This cave goes all the way through the island and is said to be haunted by the wizard's ghost.

The town of Tintagel is full of places like King Arthur's Arms, Camelot Pasties, The Arthurian Gift Shop, and Merlin's Fantasy Shop. The town exploits its Arthurian connection. It does have some rather interesting tourist places, though, such as the exhibit that has information on the Knights of the Round Table.

Journal Reflections

To read Jake's Journal Entry for this day, click here.

For Joe's Journal Entry, click here.


CAMELOT?

Cadbury Castle

Legendary and Historical Background
An aerial view of Cadbury CastleThe same did he at Venta Simenorum alias Winchester, & at 
Camalet in Somersetshire. The Common unlearned sorte of 
writers supposeth that Venta to bee called by another name, 
that is to saye Camelet. But I passe not upon the judgement 
of the common sorte. The publike reporte of them which dwelt
 at the lowermost parte of the hill. . .and solemnly settes 
foorth the fame of Arthure sometime inhabiting the Castle. 
Which Castle of olde time was both most statelie and also 
most strongly buylded, and in a most high or loftie prospect. 
Good Lorde, what and how many most deepe Ditches are 
there heere? How many vallyes are there heere out of the 
earth delved? Againe what daungerous steepenesse? And to 
end in fewe wordes, truly me seemeth it is a mirackle, both in 
Arte and nature.
                                 -Leland, The Assertion of King Arthure, page 35.

John Leland, author of The Assertion, is one of the first to bring the Cadbury-Camelot connection to light. In his Tudor Travels, he specifically says that the hill at South Cadbury is called Camelot. He was not merely guessing at this identity; there is evidence he was drawing on a long tradition of local legend. The local legend had a factual basis, though. The last phase of the hill's occupation was during the pre-Norman rule of Ethelred in the early 1000s, and it is entirely believable that stories were A view across the top of Cadbury Castlepassed down until Leland's writing in the 1500s. Leland even mentions that repeated plowing brought coins and other small treasures to the surface. It was not until the excavations of the late 1960s, however, that the full extent of Cadbury's occupation was realized, when it was dubbed Cadbury-Camelot by the Camelot Research Committee, which included Geoffrey Ashe, Leslie Alcock, Raleigh Radford, and Philip Rahtz. It is what they uncovered at Cadbury Castle that convinces many that it is the best candidate for Camelot.

What became increasingly apparent during the excavations was that "no site apart from Cadbury-Camelot exhibits such a complete refurbishing of its main line of defense, amounting to nothing less than the construction of a new fortification" (Alcock, 223). The site is huge. A perimeter of 1200 yards encloses an 18 acre area. The excavators uncovered evidence of an incredibly long occupation, beginning in 3000 BC and spanning nearly 4 millennia. Occupation was only periodic, though; spans of hundreds of years saw no inhabitants. The major periods of construction were the Neolithic era, Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Post-Roman, and Late Saxon. This layer upon layer of visible occupation has been called "a kind of British Troy" (Ashe, et al, 171).

The Post-Roman excavations were particularly fruitful. Many post holes found were found on the site. A set of post holes is one of the most telling archeological finds when dealing with Post-Roman excavation. They are left in the rock or soil from timbers that were used as supports for large halls and other buildings. A reconsruction of the timber hall at CadburyUsually it is possible to tell the layout and plan of the buildings from the arrangement of the post holes, but there were so many post holes at Cadbury that this determination was hindered. Still, the excavators are fairly certain that one of these was a large timber hall. This hall measured 63'x34' and about a third of the building was separated by a screen which may have delineated the chieftain's quarters. The layout of this building implies a mastery of carpentry.

The gatehouse that guarded the southwest entrance is also of structural import. It can be discerned that the structure had two sets of double doors--one inner and one outer. On top of these was some sort of lookout tower and the gate itself was integrated into the ramparts. The bones of a young man were found buried underneath, placed in the fetal position. It is hypothesized that this was a human sacrifice to guarantee the strength of the fortifications. This may have been a Celtic ritual, and is not without parallel in the Arthurian Legend. The men in charge of building Vortigern's fortress at Dinas Emrys, for example, required the sprinkling of a young boy's blood on the earth in order to ensure the building's strength.

A reconstruction of the gatehouse at CadburyAside from reconstructing buildings, the excavators unearthed many interesting artifacts from many of the different periods of occupation. Pottery sherds, axes and arrowheads were among the Neolithic finds. From the Dark Age "Arthurian" period, they exposed the ramparts, drystone constructions (no mortar was used) that incorporated older bits of previously mortared Roman stonework. Impressive amounts of Tintagel pottery were unearthed, which would make Cadbury a relatively wealthy hillfort of this time period. A coin was found from the period of Ethelred, the latest period of Cadbury occupation, which seems to have actually been minted at Cadbury--the inscription on the back of the coin is "+GODONCADANBYRIM (Of God at Cadbury)." The front side reads "EDELREDREXANGLORU.X (Ethelred, King of the English)."

In addition to the strictly archeological, the site also has a cave legend. Arthur is said to lie sleeping in a cave-like chamber within the hill with metal gates enclosing it. The stories vary, but on Christmas Eve, Arthur and his Knights come out and ride around the hill, the sound of the hoofbeats can be heard all around. There are many versions of the cave legend; some of these are discussed here.

The path up to Cadbury CastleLocation and Description

Cadbury Castle is near the town of South Cadbury in the county of Somerset. From Yeovil, take the A359 to the A303, where you turn east towards South Cadbury. Turn right off the A303 into town. You will drive past a farmhouse on the right that has a small sign marking the entrance path up to the castle. Just past that, on the left, is a small parking lot by a barn. There is a larger sign here that describes the castle. The trail to the castle is uphill and muddy, but not very long.

To see a Streetmap.co.uk map of the area around Cadbury Castle, click here.

Right at the south end of South Cadbury church stands Camelot. This was once a noted town or castle, set on a
real peak of a hill, and with marvellously strong natural defenses. It has just two entrances up very steep tracks, 
one on the north east, the other on the south-west. The distance around the foot of the hill on which this fortress 
stands is more than a mile. Near its summit there are four ditches or trenches, each separated by an earthen 
rampart. Above these ditches right on the hilltop is a large open space which I would reckon to be twenty acres
or more; in various parts one may observe the foundations and rubble of walls...The only information local people 
can offer is that they have heard that Arthur frequently came to Camelot.
        -John Leland's Itinerary, pages 416-17.

We approached the hillfort by the northeast entrance. It was by far the muddiest place we encountered; we had to trudge through muck to reach the top. The path cut through a farm and ran under a canopy of trees. There were four ramparts on either side that were very steep (we estimate 50-55 degrees) and undulating. A slope led up to a small flat area that another The tiers of Cadbury Castleslope rose from, which formed concentric lines around the hill. We shuddered at the thought of having to climb those things without the path cut through the middle of them. This was truly a formidable stronghold.

The climb was not terribly long nor terribly steep, but the summit commanded a view over the entire countryside; we could even see Glastonbury Tor in the distance, 12 miles away. Most of the 18 acres was a flat plateau, but there was one raised area on the western end of the complex that is known to local lore as "Arthur's Palace." There is a raised wall that circles the top, and remnants of the stone used to fortify it can be seen in some places, particularly near the north east entrance. Looking down the hill, we noticed that the west and north sides of the hill were more heavily forested, whereas the south and southeast ramparts are almost completely exposed. There were three noticeable entrances: the one we used (northeast), a southeast one, and a south west one. The southwest one was the most pronounced of them, and is the one where the gatehouse was excavated.

Cadbury Castle was the most grand example of an Arthurian-age hillfort that we saw. The size of the place is incredible and it's earthenwork defenses are unmatched. The hill was relatively isolated as well; we only saw one couple walking their dog around The walls around the top of Cadbury Castlethe walls. This made the site timeless. It was easy to remove ourselves from January 2000 and imagine the 6th century splendor that the place must have had.

To see the view from the top of South Cadbury through a LivePicture panorama, click here . This panorama is viewable with any java-capable browser, but is fairly large in size. Please be patient; it's well worth it.

Journal Reflections

To read Jake's Journal Entry for this day, click here.

For Joe's Journal Entry, click here.

 

Castle Killibury

Legendary and Historical Background
And from thence they both went to Gelli Wic, in Cornwall, and took the leash made of Dillus Varvawc's beard with
them, and they gave it into Arthur's hand.
                    -Kilhwch and Olwen in Guest, page 127.

Kelliwic is mentioned extensively in Welsh poetry. In Kilhwch and Olwen alone the fortress is brought up no less than five times. In the Welsh Triads, Kelliwic is given as "one of the three The area between the banks of Castle Killiburynational thrones of the Island of Britain, and one of King Arthur's chief seats of empire" (Guest, 319). In some legends, Kelliwic plays an integral role in the onset of the Battle of Camlann. Mordred usurped the throne of Britain while his uncle Arthur was away on the continent: "He went to Gelliwig, and dragged Gwenhwyvar from her throne with contumely, and left neither meat nor drink in the court, 'not even so much as would feed a fly,' but consumed and wasted all" (Guest, 319-20). Doubtless the place was of some importance, since it appears predominantly in Welsh works and is said to be located in Cornwall. Surely the Welsh would have located such an important place in Wales were it not founded on an established tradition.

It seems that Kelliwic was, in fact, a real place. In 1302 a document records the murder of a man named Thomas of Kellewik near Penzance. In 1900 W. H. Dickinson proposed Kelly Rounds (Castle Killibury) as the site of this Cornish stronghold. This is the only proposed site that appears to be more than mere fancy.

The site, like many others, has a long history of occupation. Excavations have revealed evidence from the Bronze Age through the Iron Age. Little has been found to suggest it was a prosperous, wealthy site during the Arthurian period, except for two shards of Tintagel amphorae pottery. To date, no apparent refortification of the site during this time period has been discovered. To complicate archeological interpretation, the area has seen extensive plowing over the centuries which has disturbed the stratiography of the soil and possibly has destroyed some artifacts as well.

Location and Description

Castle Killibury is in Cornwall, about a mile east of Wadebridge. From Wadebridge, take the A39 east and watch for a small road on your right; Castle Killibury is not marked. After this right turn, go about a mile and you will drive by a pig farm. The road you will be on runs through the middle of Castle Killibury, and the embankments will be to your left. The other half of the embankment has been leveled by the pig farm, and the interior of the circle is a crop field.

To see an Ordnance Survey map of the area around Castle Killibury, click here.

The water-filled ditch around Castle KilliburyCastle Killibury may very well be the most unimpressive hillfort in all of Britain. One half is a semicircular bank that encloses a small, drab crop field and the other half is a complex of barns that compose a pig farm. A road runs through the middle of it. We parked our car on this road and noticed a sign by the farm that proudly asserted the farm's "minimally diseased pigs." We were impressed from the beginning.

The fort itself was composed of two concentric banks. The largest diameter is approximately 200 yards, while the inner banks measure approximately 140 yards. The inner bank was prefaced by an overgrown ditch that was filled with water when we were there, allowing us to fancy it as a traditional moat.

To see the view from the inside of Kelly Rounds through a LivePicture panorama, click here. This panorama is viewable with any java-capable browser, but is fairly large in size. Please be patient; it's well worth it.

Journal Reflections

To read Jake's Journal Entry for this day, click here.

For Joe's Journal Entry, click here.

 

Caerleon

Legendary and Historical Background
But specially in the cittie of Caerlegion, or Chester upon Uske which place he notably esteemed of.
               -Leland, The Assertion of King Arthur, page 35.

When this proud company of kings, bishops, and princes was gathered together to observe Arthur's feast, the 
whole city was moved. The king's servants toiled diligently making ready for so great a concourse of guests. 
Soldiers ran to and fro, busily seeking hostels for this fair assemblage. Houses were swept and garnished, and 
furnished with hangings of rich arras...The city was full of stir and tumult...Caerleon seemed rather a fair 
than a city, at Arthur's feast.
               -Wace, Roman de Brut, page 66.

King Arthur was at Caerlleon upon Uske; and one day he 
sat in his chamber; and with him were Owain the son of Urien,
and Kynon son of Clydno, and Kai the son of Kyner; and 
Gwenhwyvar and her handmaidens at needlework by the window
and if it should be said that there was a porter at Arthur's 
palace, there was none.
                -The Lady of the Fountain in Guest, page 151.

Situated as it [the City of the Legions] is in Glamorganshire,
on the River Usk, not far from the Severn sea, in a most 
pleasant position, and being richer in material wealth than 
other townships, this city was eminently suitable for such a ceremony [as the celebration of Whitsun].
                 -The History of the Kings of Britain, 226

The sheer number of mentions of Caerleon (The City of the Legion) attests to its plausibility as one of Arthur's primary seats. The place is mentioned many times in many texts as one of Arthur's principle courts. It has been contended that Geoffrey chose Caerleon to be Camelot at least partially because it is near his home town of Monmouth. The area is mentioned as Arthur's palace in the Welsh Triads and the Mabinogion, which appear several years before Geoffrey. Another pre-Galfridian reference to this place is made by Nennius--the ninth battle of Arthur is said to have been at the City of the Legion. It is also said to have been where Arthur held his Round Table.

Location and Description

Finding Caerleon is relatively easy. It is a town only a few miles north of Newport in southern Wales. From the M4, there are signs to the town; one exit you can take is number 25. There are brown roadsigns that guide you through the Roman sites of interest in the town. The town itself is said to be Camelot, and the Roman amphitheater just outside the old Roman city walls has been called Arthur's Round Table.

To see a Streetmap.co.uk map of the area around Caerleon, click here.

The town of Caerleon is built within an old Roman legionary base. Many of these structures still remain today. The amphitheater just outside the partially preserved city walls is smaller in scale than the Colosseum but is still distinctly Roman. The foundations of the Roman barracks and parade grounds are nearby. Inside the town, there is a museum that houses all sorts of remnants from the imperial reign. A Visitor's Center has been built around the Roman baths and the tourist can look down on them from the boardwalks that form the perimeter of the building. Even more of these structures would have existed (and been in better condition) in Arthur's day, and it would have made this a desirable Camelot.

To step inside the amphitheater at Caerleon and view a LivePicture panorama click here . This panorama is viewable with any java-capable browser, but is fairly large in size. Please be patient; it's well worth it.

Journal Reflections

To read Jake's Journal Entry for this day, click here.

For Joe's Journal Entry, click here.

 

ViroconiumThe Old Work and Basilica

Legendary and Historical Background

Viroconium was once the fourth largest city in Roman Britain on the rather important thoroughfare known as Watling Street. Rodney Castleden tells of archeological excavations of the site in the 1960s and 70s that uncovered a rather extensive post-Roman refortification. The Roman stone buildings were replaced with elaborate timber halls and markets that maintained a classical heritage. There was, for example, a huge building erected on the site of the Roman basilica (adjacent to the Old Work), and some have speculated that this was the palace of an important post-Roman ruler. This refortification has been dated to the time of Vortigern, though it lasted into the Arthurian period, until around 520 AD. The end of Viroconium's occupation is odd, however. It does not seem to have been burned or conquered. Instead, it seems to have disappeared gradually, perhaps having been moved to a nearby hill called the Wrekin that would have been easier to defend. Nevertheless, the city's downfall seems to have been linked more with internal struggles rather than a Saxon threat.

This city's occupation in the Arthurian time frame has led Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman to formulate a theory for a Welsh "Arthur" named Owain Ddantgwyn. They seem to acknowlege that, whether or not Owain Ddantgwyn was the real Arthur, this would have been the best seat for his kingdom. Viroconium might well have been the largest, most secure city in Britain, as this area seems to have been relatively unaffected by the marauding Irish from the West, Picts from the North, and Anglo-Saxons from the East. The rebuilding of the city was so unique--no similar Remains of the Bathsrevitalizations have been found--that many say such a feat could not have been accomplished without the presence of a strong leader. It follows, then, that if that strong leader was killed (perhaps in the Battle of Camlann?), the city would lose its stability and decay. This seems to be what happened to Viroconium in 520, and Phillips and Keatman consequently date the fatal battle in the year 519, based also on the accounts of the Annales Cambriae and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

Location and Description

Wroxeter's Roman city is just southeast of Shrewsbury. From the A5, exit onto the B4380, towards Atcham. You will be directed to the ruins by several brown signs. Viroconium will be on your left as you drive down the B4380. There is a £3.10 admission charge, which includes a self-guided audio tour.

To see a Streetmap.co.uk map of the area around Viroconium, click here.

Our first look at this Roman city near Wroxeter surprised us. From the pictures we had seen, the city covered a large area of land and was dominated by one wall of a basilica, affectionately known as "The Old Work." This was the fourth largest city in Roman Britain (all the more reason for it to be a good candidate for Camelot), and we were expecting to see a correspondingly large excavation. As it turns out, though, relatively little of the city's 180 acres have been excavated. The city was bisected by Watling Street, a major Roman road that ran all the way to London, and is today a paved road than runs right by the ruins, The Caldarium and Old Workperpendicular to the Old Work. The farmland that surrounds the city reveals crop outlines of long forgotten buildings when seen from the air.

There are many interesting remains inside the excavated complex. After the rather imposing Old Work, you will surely notice the outline of the basilica, a type of long Roman building usually used for public meeting or judicial proceedings. Viroconium's basilica is unusually long (one of the largest in Roman Britain) and was used for sporting indoors because of the frigid climate. The Old Work was part of the south wall that joined the basilica to the baths, which are also well preserved. On the bath side of the Old Work, we noticed the remains of the archways and it was possible to create a mental reconstruction of what the interior might have looked like. There are also remains of changing rooms and raised tile supports for the heated floors of the caldarium. There was a wading pool that still had most of its original stone floor as well as remains of part of the marketplace.

Unfortunately, the Dark Age evidence from the time of Vortigern and Arthur has long since rotted away.

Journal Reflections

To read Jake's Journal Entry for this day, click here.

For Joe's Journal Entry, click here.

 

Camelon (Rough Castle)

Welcome to CamelotLegendary and Historical Background

According to the recent theory of D.F. Carroll, the real King Arthur was a Scottish leader named Artorius, a historically documented son of King Aidan. This Artorius was the prince of the Kingdom of Manaan in the late 500s and died in the Battle of Manau, which the Annals of Ulster say occurred in 582. Carroll equates this battle with Arthur's final battle of Camlann.

Artorius' Camelot, Carroll maintains, was a Roman fort on the Antoinine wall known as Ad Vallum. To the post-Roman Scots, this fortress was known as Camelon, a name which is preserved today in the small town outside of Falkirk. Carroll notes several medieval references to the Scottish fortress of Camelon, one of which comes from William Stukely, an 18th century antiquarian:

We may discern the track of the streets, foundations of buildings and subterranean vaults. The country 
people call it Camelon or Camelot.
           -William Stukely, Account of a Roman Temple and Other Antiquities near Graham's Dike in Scotland, 
                     qtd in Carroll, 83.

Carroll believes that this fort would have been the most desirable position in the area, but his major contention is that this seems to be the only area in the United Kingdom called Camelot with an associated Arthur at the right time period. Ad Vallum is now a golf course, though, so we chose to visit a more interesting fort still on the Antoinine Wall and very near Camelon called Rough Castle. This fort seems to have been mainly soldiers' barracks in the Roman times, and gives a good sense of the type of defense and organization that such a fort would have had.

Another concise discussion of Camelon as Camelot can be found here, at David Ford's web site.

Location and DescriptionThe Ramparts at Rough Castle

The Ad Vallum "Camelot" is on the A9 just north of Camelon en route to Stirling. It is on a golf course and you will be greeted by the sign in our picture.

The fort we visited, Rough Castle, is near the town of Bonnybridge, a suburb of Falkirk and close to Camelon. Get off of the M876 at Junction 1 towards Bonnybridge. You will turn left onto Main Street and then right onto Broomhill road. Follow Broomhill road for a short distance until you reach Foundry Road; there is a company called J.B. Lowery at this intersection. Turn left onto Foundry Road and follow it through a residential area and then an industrial area. This road will turn into a narrower paved road past this industry and dead end at the car park for the Antoinine Wall and Rough Castle. There is no admission fee.

To see a Streetmap.co.uk map of the area around Rough Castle, click here.

On our visit to Rough Castle, we mistakenly parked by the "Rough Castle Community Woodlands," a series of hiking trails over a coal mined wasteland accented by a babbling drainage ditch. We were startled by the stark juxtaposition between the industry's land and the fort's land. The fort was well defined and taken care of and even had a series of informative plaques at select locations inside the complex. It is a large rectangle with banks and ditches characteristic of a British hillfort but with a regular Roman-style outline. It looked more defensive than some A Roman boobie trapof the forts we've seen, showing a more inglorious, survivalist side of the Romans. There was one section of the fort that had a collection of holes dug in the ground that the Romans put sharp spikes in like a boobie trap. The Antoinine Wall resembled Wansdyke, a large ditch with a high bank, instead of interrupted brick remains like at Hadrian's Wall.

Journal Reflections

To read Jake's Journal Entry for this day, click here.

For Joe's Journal Entry, click here.

 

Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

Legendary and Historical Background

Modern day Edinburgh may well derive its name from King Edwin of Northumbria, who built a stronghold on Castle Rock. Though this was later than Arthur, a military association may have linked Arthur with theArthur's Seat from the end of the Royal Mile area. To the site's credit, there is evidence of earthwork defenses around Arthur's Seat.

Location and Description

Arthur's Seat can be seen from the end of the Royal Mile near Holyrood Palace. You can also walk all around and up to the top.

To see a Streetmap.co.uk map of the area around Arthur's Seat, click here.

Of the time we spent in Edinburgh, we spent admittedly little exploring Arthur's Seat. Most of our time was spent exploring the city instead. The rock does loom imposingly in the distance, though, and it almost begs for a legend to be attached to it. Had we had more leisure time in the area, we would have ventured up the hill without a second thought.

Journal Reflections

To read Jake's Journal Entry for this day, click here.

For Joe's Journal Entry, click here.


All photos by Jake Livingston and Joe Boyles except Arthur's Seat by Win Boyles and the aerial view of Cadbury from King Arthur, page 6.
Top picture from King Arthur, page 2. Cadbury Timber Hall reconstruction from Alcock, page 226. Cadbury Gatehouse reconstruction from Alcock, page 224.