A painting of King Arthur in Winchester, Hampshire, where some believe his stronghold was located
King Arthur, the legendary monarch who rose to the throne by pulling his sword Excalibur out of a stone and ruled Britain with the help of the knights of the round table and the wizard Merlin may not have been real after all.
That film is just as factual as the fabled King himself, according to Miles Russell, a Senior Lecturer in Roman and Prehistoric Archaeology at Bournemouth University (BU), who believes Arthur was a fictional ‘Celtic Superhero’ created in the 12th century.
Russell came to the conclusion having forensically analysed a series of medieval texts, including ‘A History of the Kings of Britain,’ written by Geoffrey of Monmouth in 1136, in which the first full account of King Arthur appears.
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King Arthur 'never existed' and was created as a 'Celtic Superhero' claims archaeologisthttps://t.co/eCUZHVp6e8 pic.twitter.com/insOdQBNyY— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) October 7, 2017
'Britain's most famous warrior King Arthur never existed' https://t.co/YPtvf47uz1 pic.twitter.com/xwfKANKxiK— The Sun (@TheSun) October 7, 2017
King Arthur receiving his magic sword Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake.King Arthur: "Open the city gates. Everyone will know that the LAW rules in Camelot!" 🙌🏽 #FirstKnight #BestMovies pic.twitter.com/ntpucMrUJl— John Firewalker (@JohnFirewalker) October 7, 2017
“Geoffrey’s book itself derives from a series of myths, stories and bardic praise poems that go back to the first century BC, at a time just before Britain became part of the Roman Empire,” Russell said in a press release.
“By studying the text with a forensic eye, isolating individual tales and characters, it is possible to identify where the story of King Arthur first came from.”
“When you start to look at King Arthur in detail you realise that he is an amalgam of at least five separate characters – he never existed as an independent person at all,” Russell added added.
The five characters in question are Ambrosius Aurelianus who lived in the late 400s, Roman general Magnus Maximus, Roman emperor Constantine the Great and prehistoric warlords Arvirargus and Cassivellaunus.
According to Dr Russell, an extra 39 per cent of the character was taken from Magnus Maximus, a Roman general in Britain who usurped Emperor Gratian in the late fourth century.
Dr Russell claims another eight per cent was drawn from Roman Emperor Constantine the Great and 24 per cent from Arvirargus, a legendary and possibly historical British King of the 1st century.
The rest of the Arthur character - 12 per cent - is drawn from tribal chief Cassivellaunus who fought against Julius Caesar's second expedition in 54BC.
“Once you take all these elements of his story away, there’s actually nothing left for Arthur,” Russell said. “He’s an echo of all these other individuals – what Geoffrey of Monmouth did was create a Celtic superhero for his times, a character for the Britons to celebrate, taken from all the best bits of those individuals who lived before."
Traditionally, Arthur is said to have led the British when they defeated an invading Saxon army at the legendary Battle of Badon sometime between 490AD and 516AD.
But his story evolved into a magical fantasy tale, with elements such as the wizard Merlin, through the History of the Kings of Britain by 12th century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth.