TINTAGEL - KING ARTHUR COUNTRY
King Arthur by Michael Williams....The
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According to one legend the infant Arthur was
thrown by the waves on the beach by Merlin's cave. King Arthur's time in history
was in the fifth century. He is identified with the known history of a Celtic
chieftain of the period who led his countrymen in the West in their resistance
against Saxon invaders. Many believe that Arthur was of a mixed Roman and
It is always difficult to prove if Arthur did exist but certainly there was a
great warrior in the West of England who had some kind of fortress where
Tintagel Castle, (King Arthur's Castle) is today. The original fortress has gone
but archaeologists have found proof in their diggings on the Tintagel Castle,
that fifth century citizens lived on the site. The replacement Castle was built
between 1230-1236 & is now nearly 800 years old. Within two hundred years the
Castle was in ruins & remains so to this day. Earl Richard of Cornwall paid for
the construction of the Castle & it is owned by the Duke of Cornwall.
For many years it has been managed by English Heritage, who are the agents for
King Arthur is a fascinating historical story. For
hundreds of years Arthur people have been telling versions of Arthur, but they
are moreprofound than
just good yarns. Only a powerful theme, only something answering to
some deep sense of British character - and need - would have been sustained for
When we think of Arthur, we do not think of just one character. In our mind's
eye we see a whole theatre of people and places, themes and ideals. We can
almost hear the clash of sword in battle. There alongside the King is Guinivere,
his Queen, and his wise man Merlin. We see Camelot: royal mysterious Camelot. We
see too Lancelot, pledged to noble aims but ... there is the round table., the
magical sword Excalibur and a great deal more. The ifs and buts: the
impossibility of it all, and yet the probability.
More than eight centuries ago a Welsh monk, residing in Oxford. wrote the first
bestseller in the history of British publishing. The author was Geoffrey of
Monmouth and his handwritten book was History of the Kings of Britain Only after Geoffrey of Monmouth - and indeed because of him - did the
Arthurian theme really come to life.
The Welshman enabled succeeding writers to develop and expand. We in Cornwall
naturally think Geoffrey chose wisely in selecting Tintagel as the birthplace of
Arthur . A dramatic fortress on a wild stretch of coastline, it is a place to
fire the imagination.
Cornwall has so many Arthur place names - or locations with a related Arthurian
story - that we feel bound to ask the question: ' Can there be smoke without
There is a story which we like to
think is true. It dates back to the thirteenth century when a certain abbot was
speaking to a congregation of monks. Many of his congregation had fallen asleep;
some were even snoring.
In desperation, the abbot raised his voice and declared: 'I will tell you
something new and great. There was once a mighty king whose name was Arthur
...' Those eighteen words had an electrifying effect. His congregation, who
could not stay awake to hear his wise thoughts on holy matters, were agog at the
mention of that magical name: Arthur.
Here in Cornwall we know something
about the strength of feeling on matters concerning Arthur. In 1146 some canons
of Laon Cathedral were in Cornwall an a fund-raising mission. They came to
Bodmin. They brought with them an image of Our Lady which they believed had the
ability to heal the sick. A man with a withered arm came hoping to be healed.
'Just as the Bretons are wont to wrangle with the French on behalf of King
Arthur, the man began to dispute with one of our company, saying Arthur was
still living.' A furore erupted, 'it came to bloodshed' and no cure could be
In Cornwall we therefore
understand there is often no grey area in many an Arthurian debate. The blood
and broken bones of that market place in Bodmin are vivid reminders of that
There is one man who has no hesitation on the subject of Arthur. Paul Broadhurst,
diligent researcher into Arthurian matters and the author of an excellent book
Tintagel and the Arthurian Mythos
"There is no doubt that there were many kings called Arthur and this has caused
Arthur is a Kingship title like Pharaoh or Caesar."
In his thoughtful,
thought-provoking book Mr Broadhurst has included a map of the Round Table of
Power Houses - and there among them is Tintagel Castle. He has written "This
arc of sites are grouped
around the central point of Stowe's Pound (on Bodmin Moor above The Hurlers)
suggests a circular pattern
or sphere of influence."
I happen to believe the case for
ghosts is so overwhelming it scarcely warrants any form of intelligent
opposition. The thousands and thousands of sightings cannot all be the vision of
the neurotic or the charlatan. In my researches into the subject, I have
interviewed more than two hundred people, and some of them are-or were - very
So, if we accept that the ghost of Arthur has been seen at Tintagel we must
therefore presume, reasonably enough, that Arthur once lived.
A few years ago Fate kindly put me
an a particular path. and it is quite possible I have, in fact, met the "real"
Arthur. That path is called psycho-expansion. This technique allows people to
explore and develop their sense of awareness, a technique which enables the mind
to move in time and space. Personally, I have not undergone psycho-expansion,
but I have interviewed people in the state of regression - travelling back in
time. Those critics who cannot accept reincarnation, will be unable to accept
psycho-expansion because the subject, in regressing, goes back to a former life
or lives - some say they also have the ability to go forward in time and can
therefore tell us what lies in the thing we call the future.
The most remarkable claim inside
Barney Camfield's group is that one member was King Arthur in a former life.
A Westcountry housewife with brown eyes, 1 have interviewed her twice. On both
occasions she regressed to Arthur's time. She sees nothing strange or
inconsistent in that she once was a man. 'Some people come back to this
life many times,' she explained, ' and in very different forms ... there seem to
be no rules, save those of cause and effect.' She went on to explain: 'Arthur
had this great charisma. But he wasn't the chivalrous character that some of the
story-tellers would have us believe. As a young man he was keen on women and
fathered as many as fifteen children in various parts of Britain by various
Historically, the Victorian era
was an important watershed in Arthurian matters. W.H. Auden called Tennyson the
man who 'had the finest ear, perhaps. of any English poet.' Fact is
Tennyson breathed great vitality into the whole Arthurian romance. 'Poetry', as
he once reflected, 'is shot-silk, with many glancing colours. Every reader must
find his own interpretation according to his ability, and according to his
sympathy with the poet.
'The power of romance is that it
fits itself anew to every period. Each one takes up again the underlying legend
of Arthur and more or less deludes itself with the nation that the latest
version is the truest. But every century must still read its own emotion. and
its own colours into the past.'
Those words still have a truly relevant ring.
'Arthur lives on...' That is the feeling we get an we go from
place to place.
Moreover, on such a journey we,
ourselves, may change, for Arthur has always embodied the highest, the best aims
of the human spirit. and many of his battles against the Saxon invaders are
symbolic of our own battles in life.
The search for the Holy Grail is, in fact, our inner journey.
King Arthur Country in Cornwally
co-author and Bossiney Books editor Brenda Duxbury,
recalled the magic of the atmosphere of Scilly. those Island outposts, a Cornish
contender for Avalon when she reflected:
'When you have left behind the pressures and demands of
everyday life-that grosser living that takes so much of our time - and in your
search arrive at these final outposts, there you have to stay, for there is no
And as you fall under the spell of these islands, you realise more and more that
now there is no other place to search for the Holy Grail - all our problems have
to be resolved within ourselves.'
The quest for Arthur then is a search for our better self ‑and selves.