King Arthur's Britain: the legends behind the locations

Date Posted: 10/05/2017

Tintagel Castle

To mark the opening of the new film, King Arthur: Legend of The Sword, Group Leisure has picked out some of the most fascinating UK locations linked to the legend of the heroic king.

King Arthur’s story – mainly composed of folklore and literary invention – is often seen as an iconic depiction of Britain. His legend has many links with locations all over Britain, and there’s no time like the present to delve into some of the most fascinating of them, from hidden lakes and lochs to Medieval castles and mysterious caverns. 

Excalibur

We’ve all heard of Excalibur, the legendary, magical sword belonging to King Arthur. Legend has it the sword came from the depths of an enchanted lake to which it was eventually returned – and while the specific location of the lake is unknown, there are myths surrounding many. 

One of these is Dozmary Pool. This lake, situated in Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, is said to be where a mystical hand of the Lady in the Lake reached out and grabbed the Excalibur sword to take it back. The countryside of Bodmin Moor is a great location for rambling and groups can follow the Copper Trail that runs about 60 miles. Alternatively, for thrill-seekers, a visit to Bodmin Gaol should not be missed.

Loch Arthur in Scotland is another lake with links to the Excalibur legend; locals believe the sword is at the bottom of it. Loch Arthur offers beautiful vistas of the Scottish countryside, situated near the town of Beeswing and near to the Dumfries and Castle Douglas. Groups visiting the Dumfries area in search of Excalibur might also want to visit the Caerlaverock Castle, Sweetheart Abbey or the Forest of Ae. 

King Arthur’s kingdom

Tintagel Castle, perched high on a rock face, is another Cornish location with links to the legend of King Arthur, and is said to have been his home. Groups visiting today can enjoy catering packages and special rates. Don’t miss spotting Merlin’s Cave hidden in the rocks just below the castle, which is thought to have been where the wizard Merlin brought the infant Arthur to safety once. 

Cadair Idris

Pictured: Cadair Idris, Snowdonia. Photo Credit VisitBritain/ Visit Wales

Groups can discover more folklore in Wales. Those in search of Arthurian links will not have to look far as there are heaps of locations that tie into the story. Cadair Idris, a 3,000 feet high mountain in Snowdonia is said to have been when Arthur built his kingdom. The mountain is often referred to as the Seat of Arthur, and rambling parties can trek to the summit or enjoy the nearby walks.

Located near to Symonds Yat, Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth is the Doward where King Arthur’s Cave, a small cavern that can be found by foot, is located. The walk to the cavern is not difficult, meaning all abilities can discover the mythical cave.

Camelot

Cadbury Castle in Somerset is often referred to as the ‘real Camelot’. Camelot was believed to have been the main city in the Arthurian realm. The castle is an example of an Arthurian-age hillfort and has a raised area which is known locally as Arthur’s Palace. The castle provides views across the countryside as far as Glastonbury Tor which is 12 miles away.

Castle Killibury near Wadebridge in Cornwall also claims to be the location of Camelot. According to early Welsh writings, King Arthur had a court at ‘Kelliwac in Kernov’, which is thought to be Castle Killibury. Visitors to Wadebridge may like to walk parts of The Camel Trail, an 18 mile trail that runs along a disused railway between Wadebridge, Padstow, Bodmin and Wenfordbridge.

Further inspiration 

There are so many more locations that relate to the legend of King Arthur, you may even have already visited some without knowing. Across Britain, the myth spreads from the tips of mountains to the edge of seaside cliffs; groups with a particular interest in this British mythological figure will not be short of finding somewhere Arthurian to explore.

For further Arthurian inspiration visit www.visitbritain.com.

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