England’s history is dotted with bloody battles, knights (some even in shining armour), jousting championships and unexplainable ruins. It’s a country of legends. One of the most famous of all is that of King Arthur and his gallant knights of the round table, a story that has and continues to inspire seven-year-old knights-to-be to this day.
Camelot. That’s where the story unfolds and while legend doesn’t point to its exact location, we can make a few good guesses. Take on your own quest this summer and discover the England that continues to inspire the tales of brave knights and gracious kings. Hire a car from London and make the epic and legendary road trip of the year! Here are the best of Britain’s Arthurian attractions.
Speculation reaches far and wide as to the exact location of Camelot. Whether Cadbury Castle is the famous King’s court or not doesn’t change the fact that this place is spectacular. Cadbury Castle, which is essentially just a huge hill fort from the Iron Age, sits between Exeter and Tiverton, not far from Glastonbury. Excavations of the site in the 1800s have produced some pretty convincing Iron Age, Roman and Saxon artefacts, now on display at the Somerset County Museum. John Leland, a poet from the 1500s, was the first to make the connection between Arthur’s Camelot and Cadbury Castle writing,
“At the very south end of the church of South-Cadbyri standeth Camallate, sometime a famous town or castle. . .The people can tell nothing there but that they have heard Arthur much resorted to Camalat.”
Did you know there is a village in England called Slaughter Bridge? It’s hiding somewhere between Tintagel and Camelford in the northern part of Cornwall. Some believe it to be the site of Arthur’s final battle. There is a stone there, close to the village which dates back to the 6th century, also known as King Arthur’s stone. It was only discovered in 1998 and since then has been considered as possible evidence that Arthur died there. The stone, also called the Artognou stone, was found not far from the ruins of Tintagel Castle, near a brook.
This small lake in Bodmin Moor is the supposed home of the ethereal Lady of the Lake. She is the one who gave Arthur is sword, the powerful Excalibur, here at this very spot. She also is said to have raised Lancelot after he lost his father. Her image is fleeting and always mystical, sometimes seen floating above the surface of the water at night. Hikers have more than enough reasons to visit, the nearby Rough Tor and Brown Willy are great places to trek.
Some six centuries after King Arthur and his wife Guinevere’s time, some speculated that their remains had been found in the 12th century. Many believe Glastonbury Tor to be the legendary site of Avalon, where Arthur was killed in battle against Mordred in the Battle of Camlann. Legend claims that Queen Guinevere was kidnapped and held hostage here in Somerset. When Arthur arrived and battle pursued and Guinevere was released after Arthur killed Mordred and suffered fatal wounds. The hill is topped by a tower which wasn’t built until the 15th century. According to legend, From the top you can see as many as three different counties. Admission is free and is open year-round.
There is a series of texts from medieval times here which make reference to King Arthur. Some of them claim that he once held court here in the small town of St David’s which is what makes it a perfect place to discover while visiting the coast of Pembrokeshire in Wales. With a population barely at 2,000, you can bet this is the small-town and slow-paced escape you’re looking for… with epic connections to King Arthur’s legend. Visit St. David’s Cathedral, built in the Middle Ages. One more thing to note, St. David’s is the only city in the UK that lies entirely in a national park.
What kind of epic and legendary adventures are you going to take this summer?