A legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders
The King Arthur Myth – The details of Arthur’s story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention. Originally titled The Whole Book of King Arthur and of His Noble Knights of the Round Table Sir Thomas Malory based his book on the various previous romance versions and appears to have aimed at creating a comprehensive and authoritative collection of Arthurian stories. Perhaps as a result of this, and the fact that Le Morte D’Arthur was one of the earliest printed books in England, published by William Caxton in 1485, most later Arthurian works are derivative of Malory’s.
Many elements and incidents that are now an integral part of the Arthurian story appear in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae, including Arthur’s father Uther Pendragon, the wizard Merlin, Arthur’s wife Guinevere, the sword Excalibur, Arthur’s conception at Tintagel, his final battle against Mordred at Camlann and final rest in Avalon. The 12th-century French writer Chrétien de Troyes, who added Lancelot and the Holy Grail to the story, began the genre of Arthurian romance that became a significant strand of medieval literature.
In the 21st century, the legend lives on, not only in literature but also in adaptations for theatre, film, television, comics and other media. So powerful are the influences of the legend of King Arthur that in 2002 he was voted in on a BBC program as one of the “100 Greatest Britons” of all time (coming in at #51). His story, begun in poetry and myth, has appropriately been respond in a great variety of hues and patterns, each time reinforcing and spreading the King Arthur myth. The search for the origin of Arthurian legend had been the subject of several historians, and was depicted on film adaptations since 1900 to present.
The romance Arthur has become popular in film and theatre as well. T. H. White’s novel was adapted into the Lerner-Loewe stage musical Camelot (1960), with its focus on the love of Lancelot and Guinevere and the cuckolding of Arthur, was itself made into a film of the same name in 1967. The romance tradition of Arthur is particularly evident and, according to critics, successfully handled in John Boorman’s fantasy film Excalibur (1981); it is also the main source of the material utilised in the Arthurian spoof Monty Python and the Holy Grail(1975).
Stonehenge History – Evidence indicates that the area around Stonehenge has been occupied since around 8000BC, but it was during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods that the vast majority of the monuments around it came to be built. Early work at Stonehenge itself began in 3000BC when an outer ditch and embankment was constructed, and standing timbers erected. From about 2500BC, Neolithic and Bronze age man started to bring Bluestones and Sarsen stones from Wales and the Marlborough Downs. It was not until 1600BC that Stonehenge came to be completed. Most of the other monuments in the area such as Durrington Walls and Woodhenge date from the same period. A nearby hill fort was built during the Iron Age, and there is evidence to suggest that the area was extensively settled by the Romans. The nearby town of Amesbury was later settled during the Saxon reign in 979AD.
Stonehenge and the land immediately around it was given to the nation in 1918. Being on the edge of the military training area Salisbury Plain, a large number of military facilities have also been constructed in the area, including military barracks, a light railway and an aerodrome built within a stone’s throw of Stonehenge (most of which has now fortunately been removed). Since then the National Trust has acquired some 850 hectares around Stonehenge, and the area was given UNESCO World Heritage status in 1986.
The Legend of King Arthur – Locations & Activities