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The CRYPT Mag

Arthur Man or Myth : CRYPT View


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Having spent many weeks researching all possible information on King Arthur, I remain almost as confused now as I was when I first started.  Even today new theories are added to this tale, Some even suggest that the Shroud of Turin is actually Arthur's burial cloth that was taken abroad during the Crusades.

When reading or researching the Legend of King Arthur, it become easy to dismiss they whole story as myth and magic, however almost all stories or myths contain a small piece of the truth, it become a case of separating the "Wheat from the Chaff"

Before dissecting this legend, we really need to understand a little about the history of Britain prior to the story beginning.



History of Britain


In 55 BC the Roman made their first invasion of Britain, They remain in this country for almost 500 years  (eventually leaving in 410 AD).


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British history is quite well documented during the Roman rule, and to this day we still find roads and building that they constructed.

The Roman armies conquered most of mainland Britain, England, Wales and the South of Scotland were all under Roman Rule.

The Romans never advanced beyond the Central belt in Scotland, Building Antonine's wall in 142 AD.

It would be nice to say they were stopped in their tracks by the fierce highland "Pict" tribes,  (Well I am a highland Scot by birth)  but the truth is that the Romans saw little benefit in progressing any further.

Lands beyond the central belt was heavily wooded, marshy and hilly .. certainly unsuitable for the Romans style of warfare.  There was no mass army of "picts" for the Romans to defeat and as the North land was viewed as barren and unfertile there seemed no point in progressing further.

No tribe or people like to live under the rule of another, However the Roman overlords brought prosperity to the lands they settled in.  However more importantly... they brought peace and stability.

The Roman were the most powerful fighting force in the world, The fact that they had conquered Britain meant that other warring tribes stayed clear of our shores ...so most of the occupation was indeed peaceful times.

In 410 AD the Roman troops withdrew from the shores of Britain and disaster ensued.

We must remember that in these times the Roman overlords conscripted the local men into their army and trained them to fight as Romans.

Initially the First invasion of Britain undoubtedly contained soldiers from France and Spain etc.  When the Romans left Britain they would have taken their "British/ Romen" legions with them.

Certainly some of their British troops would have deserted, but in the Main Britain lost its powerful army of defence leaving the Country vulnerable to attack by others.

The Attack came .. and came quickly from Germanic Tribes ...The Angles the Saxons and the Jutes.


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These tribes poured into the East and South East coast of England and in historical terms quickly spread over the land we now know as England.

The Angles  (Who eventually gave the country their name)  were one of the smaller germanic tribes and settle mostly in the South of the country, With the more powerful Saxon tribes settling in most of the rest of the land.

It is at this period  (the dark ages)  that the legend of King Arthur appears to be set.  The legend certainly recounts up to 12 battles Arthur had against the Saxons.

Now we know that most Britons fled from the Saxon tribes heading into Wales and Scotland ...both of which the Saxons never really conquered.  It is therefore realistic to think that If King Arthur fought the Saxons ... Regardless of where he was born, He must have fought at the borders of one of these countries  (Scotland or Wales).



Historical Arthur


Historically little is known about Arthur, we really don't even know if he was a King, and think he was in fact a Warlord rather than a Crowned head of state.

Although this period is known as the "dark ages" there is some historical data available, None of which mention a King called Arthur.

Now this is quite easily explained.  The Saxons invaded Briton and, as always happens the Victors write the history.  Saxon version of the conquer of Britain would certainly not mention a British hero that constantly defeated them in battle.

If this is so ... How did the legend of Arthur start?  and more importantly  how did it travel then length of the Country.

Obviously there was no Newspapers, Radio or any other form of media in the Dark ages.  All New was carried by word of mouth, Mostly by traders selling their wares or travelling Minstrels.

Travelling Minstrels, made their living by travelling from village to village singing songs, reciting poetry playing Music and telling Stories.  For this, they would receive food, a place to rest and if lucky a few small coins.

Now IF Minstrels were responsible for the legend of King Arthur, They certainly wouldn't have mentioned the real name of a Warlord that was a bitter enemy to the Saxons.  What they would have done was change all the names  (People and places)  and "Spiced" up the story by adding to the historical content.

Most story tellers  (Modern days, we are talking of Authors playwrites etc.)  will tell you that the story they have written is pure fiction ... But based upon real people that they have met.

So then, IF the Legend of King Arthur is indeed a blend of Fiction and the Truth, Could we possibly strip away the gloss and find something credible?



The Sword in the Stone:

As already explained, Apart for the Magical aspect of the Sword in the Stone, The stone certainly would not have had the word "King of all England" carved on it.  England did not exist as a country name at this period, so this part of the story MUST have been added later in time.



Merlin:

Merlin the Wizard ... Did he exist .. Perhaps.  Any warlord of this times would have surrounded himself with Advisors or men of wisdom.  Of course we don't believe in Magic today, But in the Dark Ages Magic, Wizards and Witches were an important part of any story.....Part of a Story.


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Excalibur:

The famed Sword of King Arthur, Most people seem to think that this was the Sword in the Stone ... Not True.  Excalibur was presented by Merlin to Arthur.  Excalibur was a fabled blade but not Magical, The scabbard for Excalibur was magical in that the person holding it couldn't be killed.  Magical but part of a Story.



Camelot:

Fabled Kingdom of Arthur ... Magical land and beautiful Castle.  I'm afraid that even in the earlier days of the Romans, very few buildings were created from stone, Certainly all military buildings from both eras found were constructed from Wood.  Arthur had no fine castle, Probabley a wooden hill fort.  Again if this tale was spread by story tellers they certainly would not have used the real place name of the Kings/Warlords headquarters.  Camelot does not exist.



The Knights of the round Table:

If Arthur fought battles against the Saxon invaders, He would certainly have required assistance from other warlords and their fighting men.  However they would hardly be Knights in Shining Armour and certainly didn't ride out on white horses defending the honour of maidens and slaying mythical beasts  (The Romans occupied the country for 500 years and no documented sighting of dragons or other mythical beast have ever been recorded). ...Pure Fiction.


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The Round table:

Interesting,  Humans are animals and like all animals we have certain pecking orders especially when taking food.

Even in todays terms, Imagine a family of Man, Wife and 4 Children  (2 boys 2 girls).  Now place a oblong table in the dining room and watch where they sit.

The Man, Recognised as the head of the House  (Pack)  will take his position at the Head of the Table  (Normally one of the smaller end so he sits alone).  The Wife will almost always sit opposite  (At the foot of the Table)  the Children sit anywhere.  Well they do for a start, However eventually the Eldest son will sit at the right-hand side of his Father ... Indicating to the rest of the Family  (Pack)  that he is second in line.  Normally the eldest daughter will sit at her mothers side, again indicating her position within the Family  (Pack).

NOW ..Remove the oblong table and in it place have a ROUND Table.

What has changed ..In truth, very little.  There is no longer a recognised "Head" of the Table, So now the father selects where he wants to sit, and the other family members fall into position as normal.

So What difference would a Round table have made to Arthur and his Knights?

Arthurs ROUND Table supposedly sat anything from 150-1500 people depending on which account of the story you read.

Even seating 150 grown men round a table is pretty mind boggling.  Certainly the Table would have to be massive.  To big ..In fact to have been made as a Solid circle of Wood.

Think of it more as a large Wooden Washer with a hole in the centre, and made in sections.

Now if Arthurs knights were fighting over who should sit at his right-hand side  (Next in command)  ...By moving a section of this large table, Arthur could take his place in the Centre of the Ring.  Every knight would be the same distance from the King, No Knight could claim to be at his right-hand side as Arthur could face any direction.

Even today this is a brilliant idea, Certainly in the Dark Ages any King or Warlord inventing this peace keeping situation and leading the other lords into victorious battles against a common enemy, Would be a man of legendary proportions.

Could the Round Table be the truthful heart of the Legend of King Arthur?

MY personal view is that a great warlord did live and unite various faction to fight battles against the Saxon invaders.  He may have had a round table as explained or possibly he held his war council in an old Roman ampitheatre (Round).


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Sadly because the Saxons ended up victorious in the overall battle, this great warlords true name has been forgotten, but his spirit lives on in he tales of "The court of King Arthur"





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