Monday, May 30, 2016

Historians Draw Closer to the Tomb of the Legendary King Arthur

Ancient Origins

For many decades, researchers have tried to confirm the existence of King Arthur of Camelot, the legendary ruler that was said to have led the defense of Britain against the Saxons in the 5th century AD, and to find his final resting place. After years of speculations, the British researcher and writer Graham Philips believes he is closer than ever before.

According to the legend, King Arthur, after the battle with his enemy Mordred, was transported to the Isle of Avalon. Now, new research suggests that location may lie in a field in Shropshire, England.
Graham Phillips has been researching the life of King Arthur for many years. According to the Daily Mail, Phillips believes he has discovered evidence confirming that the medieval ruler was buried outside the village of Baschurch in Shropshire. In his latest book The Lost Tomb of King Arthur, he suggests that the most probable location of the tomb is outside the village in the old fort, dubbed ''The Berth'' or at the site of the former chapel.
The deceased King Arthur before being taken to the Isle of Avalon
The deceased King Arthur before being taken to the Isle of Avalon (public domain)
Phillips is calling on English Heritage for permission to start archeological works at The Berth, and in the former chapel nearby the Baschurch village. Phillips has already located a pit containing a large piece of metal, which Phillips believes may be remnants of King Arthur’s shield.
Phillips told the Daily Mail:
''In the Oxford University Library there is a poem from the Dark Ages which refers to the kings from Wroxeter who were buried at the Churches of Bassa - and when you think about anywhere in Shropshire that sounds similar, you think of Baschurch. There is a place that matches the description just outside the village, an earthworks known as The Berth, which were two islands in a lake, though obviously the lake has now gone.''
Does the final resting place of King Arthur lie here at “The Berth” in Shropshire?
Does the final resting place of King Arthur lie here at “The Berth” in Shropshire? (BBC)
According to Phillip’s previous book, King Arthur lived in the Roman fortress at Wroxeter, a small village in Shropshire. Historical texts state that Arthur was born at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, and later became a famous character of many legends, related to for example his sword – the Excalibur. However, Phillips believes that a lot of the legends about Arthur are wrong, including his place of birth, which Phillips says was Shropshire, and not South West England.
Apart from the sites nearby the Baschurch, Phillips claims that King Arthur could also be buried in a country lane in Birch Grove village. In the 1930s, archeologists discovered part of a gravestone there with the inscription in Latin ''Here Lies…''.
At the same time as Phillips is searching for the grave of Arthur, archeologist Dr Richard Brunning, from South West Heritage, started excavations at Beckery Chapel, near Glastonbury in Somerset. The aim of the work is to accurately date an early Christian chapel. It is hoped that the investigations may shed new light on King Arthur, who is said to have visited this place, and according to the legend had a vision of Mary Magdalene and the baby Jesus there. It is the first time since 1968 that archeologists have investigated the site. Moreover, the place is also famous as a part of the stories related to the Irish saint Bridget, who visited the site in 488 AD. Previous works suggested that before the chapel, a Saxon mastery had been present on the site. The most recent works will allow the precise dating of the monastic cemetery.
Sketch of Beckery Chapel, Somerset
Sketch of Beckery Chapel, Somerset (
The history of King Arthur is also connected with Glastonbury Abbey, which has been believed to be a place of burial of King Arthur and his wife Guinevere since the 12th century.  According to an article by Jason Urbanus and archeologist Roberta Gilchrist, who head up the Glastonbury Archaeological Archive Project, the site may indeed date back to the 5th century, the time of King Arthur, but they say there is no evidence of any connection with the king. Moreover, Urbanus explained in Archaeology magazine that the burial actually belongs to 12th century monks. It seems that the legend about the burial of Arthur being at Glastonbury Abbey was created by monks of the Abbey who needed an attraction to raise money.
Top image: Illustration from page 16 of ‘The Boy's King Arthur’ (public domain)
By Natalia Klimzcak

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