King Arthur & The Round Table 'Myth or Legend'
|Although Arthur' was essentially Celtic by nature the chroniclers and story-tellers of the Middle Ages made him 'all things to all kings, and knights too' who subjected a vast European empire.
King Arthur's life is a tantalizing puzzle. Nothing points conclusively to his reign in the 5th and 6th centuries, there are no eye-witness accounts of his coronation, no unarguable manuscripts, no building with 'Arthur was here' etched stone.The names, Merlin, Lancelot, Guinevere, Galahad, Exalibur & the Knights of the Round Table will inspire us to find the truth. Join us on our quest.
'Anoeth bid bey y Arthur'
The world's enigma, Arthur's grave
Welsh 9th or 10th Century
Overnight from North America to London.
Early arrival at London airport, to be met by your Tour Director and Guest Historian.
Traveling southwest we arrive at the old Roman City of Venta Belgarum, now Winchester, which remained England's chief city to after the Norman Conquest. Geoffrey of Monmouth mentions it a few times- Arthur fights a battle with Modred here during the final struggle and Mallory usually locates Camelot here. Perhaps the most famous object in the city is the Round Table. This table housed in Castle Hall; measures 18 feet across, 2 3/4" thick and has mortise holes for 12 legs. It weighs 1 1/4 tons. There are twenty-four segments, one each allotted to the knights whose names are around the rim. Arthur's place is where the picture of the king is seen at the top.
Overnight in Wells
Welcome reception and overview of tour
Beside the main roads entering the little town of Glastonbury are signboards welcoming you to 'the ancient Avalon' Glastonbury's identity with that fabled island, is hard to prove along with legends that the Holy Grail was here and that Arthur & Guinevere are buried nearby. Today we will visit the Abbey, Chalice Wells Gardens, the Museum in the Tribunal & Lady Chapel. About 50 feet from the south door of Lady Chapel is the site of where Arthur is supposed to have been buried. In the late 12th century the monks of the Abbey decided to search for the grave, seven feet below the surface they unearthed a stone slab, with the inscription; 'Here lies buried the renowned King Arthur in the Isle of Avalon' Before returning to our hotel there will be a chance for a brisk walk up the Tor to view the surrounding countryside.
2nd night in Wells
As we drive south we visit the Peat Moors Centre, where we will be able to see displays of life during medieval times. Leaving here we drive to Cadbury Castle, the best known and most interesting of the reputed sites of Camelot. One theory about the name Cadbury is that it is a link with Arthur, because it means 'Cadwy's Fort' perhaps a connection with a prince named Cadwy a friend of Arthur's? The fort is sited on an isolated hill 500 feet high; it has four lines of bank and ditch defenses. Other the past centuries many excavations have been carried out here and only as recently as the 1950's have pottery been found that had been used at Tintagel, to link both sites together as Arthurian.
Tonight at King Arthur's Castle Hotel, Tintagel in Cornwall
Until recently Arthur scholars scorned Tintagel, but now it is recognized as a major sixth century site, probably used as a royal court in summer months.
Today we will visit the legendary castle of Arthur, clinging precariously to the edge of the cliff face. This castle now lying as a ruin is approached via a narrow uphill road, the immediate reaction is that it is on an island, its link with the mainland is a ridge of rock that has crumbled forming a chasm. Crossing a fixed bridge spanning the chasm you enter the castle. Back in the village of Tintagel we visit The Old Post Office located in a 14th century manor house before taking a short walk along the cliffs with its magnificent views.
A stone enclosure to the south on Bodmin Moors is called Arthur's Hall or Arthur's Hunting Lodge. Some rocky basins nearby are called 'Arthur's Troughs' according to local lore, he fed his dogs in them.
2nd night in Tintagel
An embattled medieval castle surmounts the great granite crag that rises from the waters of Mount Bay; St. Michael's Mount has been the home of the St.Aubyn family for over 300 years. Perhaps this was the site in Arthurian legend of Tristan's Land of Lyonesse, drowned beneath the sea?
Hotel tonight in Fowey
As we leave the West Country and head east towards London, we visit the Tristan Stone and Castle Dore (King Mark's fort).
Many debates have raged over the years about the site of the Battle of Badon, a great Britsh victory over the Saxons. In Roman times the city of Bath was called Aquae Sulis, however in Welsh Caerfaddon meaning city of Baden. Bath is a strategically likely site for such battle.
Hotel tonight in Bath
This morning we will look at the Roman period and occupation by visiting the heated baths, perhaps Arthur took the water?
A chance for some shopping in this beautiful Georgian city before leaving for London after an early lunch.
Our route will take us southeast towards Stonehenge. This unique megalithic structure owes it role in Arthurian legend according to Geoffrey of Monmouth. He makes it out to be a memorial to 460 slain British nobles. Looking for a suitable design Merlin was consulted and his advice accepted, the stones being stolen from an existing site in Ireland. What ever the answer is to why these stones are here, this is a magical place to end your Arthurian tour. Hotel tonight in central London.
A day of rest and relaxation on your own OR join us on a 4 hour sight seeing trip around the sites of this old city, settled by the Romans in 1st century AD.
Dinner as a group at a Medieval Banquet
Transfer to London airport for return flight to North America.