Thursday, June 09, 2005

Arthur again!

Richard and Judy had 'historian' Graham Phillips talking about how the 'real' King Arthur came from Shropshire. The basis of the theory was that the 'real' Arthur was a man called Owain Ddantgwyn, who, Phillips says, called himself Arth, 'the Bear'. Ddantgwyn is supposedly 'Pendragon'. His father's name, Girt, is very similar to Uther Pendragon. This figure ruled in the Welsh borders around AD 500. Well, yes it sounds interesting, but when Phillips started arguing that a castle in Shropshire could be the castle of the Grail story, thus suggesting not just that the 'real' Arthur was based around Shropshire, but that the writers of the mediaeval romances knew this as well, I lost patience. In fact, as revealed at the end of the item, there's nothing new about this theory - Phillips published it in King Arthur: The True Story in 1992. What's new is that Shropshire Council are now taking up the notion to promote local archaeological and historical sites.

As it happens, I have a copy of King Arthur: The True Story, so I did a quick browse. And the problem is, the earliest mention of this individual comes in the tenth-century Annales Cambriae. By this time, the historical record has already been corrupted by the Arthurian legend, so in the end I don't think the similarities in the names prove anything. I'll add Owain Ddantgwyn, if he existed, to the list of people who might have contributed to the Arthur legend. But he is no more the 'true' Arthur than any of the other candidates.

And I had to sit through Piers Morgan blathering about Cherie Blair.

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