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  Vortigern Studies > Faces of Arthur > Arthurian Articles > August Hunt (2)

Guest Author:
August HuntVisit August Hunt's website: The Quest for Arthur's Grave

August Hunt, (1960), published his first short stories in his high school newspaper, THE WILDCAT WIRES. These were followed by stories and poems in THE PHOENIX literary magazine of Clark Community College, where he received a writing scholarship. Transferring to THE EVERGREEN STATE COLLEGE in Olympia, WA, he continued to publish pieces in local publications and was awarded the Edith K. Draham literary prize. A few years after graduating in 1985 with a degree in Celtic and Germanic Studies, he published "The Road of the Sun: Travels of the Zodiac Twins in Near Eastern and European Myth". Magazine contributions include a cover article on the ancient Sinaguan culture of the American Southwest for Arizona Highways. His first novel, "Doomstone", and the anthology "From Within the Mist" are being offered by Double Dragon (ebook and paperback). August, a member of the International Arthurian Society, North American Branch, has most recently had his book "Shadows in the Mist: The Life and Death of King Arthur" accepted for publication by Hayloft Publishing. Now being written are "The Cloak of Caswallon", the first in a series of Arthurian novels that will go under the general heading of "The Thirteen Treasures of Britain", and a work of Celtic Reconstructionism called "The Secrets of Avalon: A Dialogue with Merlin". 

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From Glein to Camlann:
The Life and Death of King Arthur (1)

August Hunt

What little we know of a historical Arthur is contained in two early medieval works: the Historia Brittonum or "History of the Britons", ascribed to the Welsh monk Nennius, and the anonymous Annales Cambriae or "Welsh Annals". These two sources supply us with the names of thirteen Arthurian battle sites. Twelve of these battles were supposedly fought against the invading Saxons, while one may have involved a conflict with another Briton chieftain named Medraut (although see the discussion of Camlann below).

In the Historia Brittonum, Arthur is called a dux Bellorum or "leader of battles", and is said to have fought alongside British kings against the pagan barbarians. It is from this bare listing of battle sites that the great body of Arthurian literature – the so-called "Matter of Britain" – has grown. The consensus view among Arthurian scholars today is that the subsequent poems, stories, pseudo-histories and romances focusing on Arthur and his court are so heavily fictionalized, so overlaid with mythic, legendary and folkloristic elements, as to be worthless for the study of Arthur as a true Dark Age personage.

There are even those who dispense with the battle list as well, claiming that there is no way for us to substantiate the genuineness of the list itself. A complication concerns the inability to clearly identify the place-names supplied in the battle list. The tendency has existed for some time to "make the places fit the theory", rather than the opposite. Thus Arthur has been situated just about everywhere in Britain. To counter the argument which refuses to acknowledge the validity of the list, the two Arthur entries in the Welsh Annals have frequently been cited. These two entries are typical, dry, bare-boned annalistic accounts of two battles. Arthur, Medraut, and the battle sites Mt. Badon and Camlann are mentioned in the context of many other proper and place-names, all of which are demonstrably historical. There is no reason, therefore, to doubt the veracity of the two Arthurian entries in the Annals.

Mt. Badon and Camlann are both, however, subject to the same kind of geographical shuffling as the other battle sites. Cases have been made for northern and southern Badons and Camlanns. None have been particularly convincing.

The aim of the present paper is to propose new identifications for the thirteen Arthurian battle sites. These identifications should allow us to finally pinpoint Arthur’s sphere of military activity. By doing this, we should be able to determine what role he played in the defense of Dark Age Britain against the Germanic menace. In addition, new light will be shed on the two most important Arthurian sites of later legend and romance: Camelot, the royal court, and Avalon, the otherworldly island to which Arthur was ferried after his death at Camlann.

The first twelve of these battles are all found in the Historia Brittonum immediately prior to a section dealing with the Saxon kingdom of Bernicia and its king, Ida. Bernicia, coupled with Deira, comprised what became known as Northumbria, i.e. that portion of Britain which extends from the Humber River in the south to the Firth of Forth in the north. Ida began to rule, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, c. 547 AD.

The list of Arthurian battle sites, in the order that they occur in the Historia Brittonum and the Annales Cambriae, are:

  1. The mouth of the river Glein
  2. The river Dubglas in the Linnuis Region (battles 2-5)
  3. The river Bassas
  4. The Celidon Wood
  5. The Castle of Guinnion
  6. The City of the Legion
  7. The Shore of the river Tribruit
  8. Mount Agned, also called Mount Breguoin
  9. Mount Badon
  10. Camlann

Concluding part: Who was Arthur?

Appendix 1: A Note on the Pa Gur Battle Sites

Appendix 2: Three additional Arthurian Poems

From Glein to Camlann is Copyright 2006, August Hunt. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Comments to: August Hunt


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