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Arthur (c 5th century AD?)
CATEGORY: person
DEFINITION: The legendary British king who is described in medieval romances as the leader of a knightly fellowship called the Round Table. It is said that he rallied the British against the Anglo-Saxon invaders and that behind the legend there may be a sub-Roman warleader who filled such a role. Though his name does not survive in contemporary records, he may have led the British at the battle or siege of Mount Badon which stopped the Saxon advance c 490 AD for some fifty years hence. All the historical references to him in the chronicles of Bede, Gildas, Nenius, Geoffrey of Monmouth and others were written between 100 and 600 years after the event, so they are considered unreliable for archaeologists. The search probably started with the monks of Glastonbury, who in 1191 claimed to have found the burial of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere inscribed with the words, "Here lies Arthur in the Isle of Avalon buried". Various locations as far apart as Cornwall and Scotland are claimed as the site of Mount Badon; the refortified Iron Age hillfort of Badbury Rings in Dorset seems the most credible possibility. The site of Arthur's court at Camelot may be the historical site of South Cadbury. Excavations carried out at South Cadbury revealed an important fortified settlement of the 5th and 6th centuries which could have been the center from which British resistance to the Saxons was organized.

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