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The enclosure formed by this rampart would, according to Colonel Mead,
whose assistance I had in examining the fortification, give comfortable
accommodation to 2,000 men, supposing them to be besieged for a week or
ten days, while under temporary pressure 5,000 people might be crowded
into it. Were the outer circle restored according to the indications
afforded by its remains, it is obvious that the camp would hold a much
larger number than that referred to as capable of being contained within
the middle defence. Like others of the Cornish earthworks, it stands on a
commanding elevation among hills which are higher than itself.

* * * * *

It has been seen that Tintagel and Damelioc are exactly adapted to the
story of which they are the scene. Either the story must have had some
foundation in fact, or the inventor of it must have possessed extensive
and accurate knowledge of the topographical features of this remote part
of the British Isles.

[Illustration: FIG. 3. - _Reproduced from the 25-inch Ordnance Map._]

The Romancers of Britanny may easily have heard of a place so well known
as Tintagel, and woven it into their fictions; but Damelioc seems to have
attracted little attention, though mentioned by Gilbert in 1838, until it
emerged from obscurity to find name and place in the last edition of the
Ordnance map. Thus unknown or disregarded, it would scarcely have been
selected as the scene of a purely imaginary romance. To me, the finding of
Damelioc where and what it should be according to the story is an
indication that this was dictated by something more substantial than
imagination, though this faculty no doubt had much to do with its

* * * * *

I have already quoted from the Welsh Triads assigned to the sixth century
a reference to Arthur as 'the chief lord at Kelliwic,' and have referred
also to other Welsh compositions, probably of little less antiquity, in
which Kelliwic or Celliwig is spoken of in the same connection. Professor
Rhys finds in the Triads an account of a raid made by Mordred[28] upon
Arthur's Court, apparently in Arthur's absence, where the intruder left
neither food nor drink unconsumed so much as would support a fly, and
where he outraged the Queen. This is said to have occurred at Kelliwic in
Cornwall, though it must be admitted that the association of the northern
king with the southern fortress is suggestive of doubt. Kelliwic is
elsewhere referred to as a place from which a certain marksman of
exceptional ability was able to hit a wren in Ireland. Dismissing this as
one of the super-additions to which tradition is liable, I revert from the
archer to the king. If there be any truth in the tradition which places
Arthur's court or camp at Kelliwic, we ought to find some trace of it. If
Kelliwic could be found as a place of defence in the Arthurian country, we
might at least say that the coincidence was remarkable, unless the
tradition had some substratum of fact. Now I venture to suggest that we
have Kelliwic still with us under the name of that remarkable earthwork
known as Kelly Rounds.

_Kelly Rounds_ or _Castle Killibury_ is about five miles from Damelioc, to
which it bears a general resemblance, though possessing only two ramparts,
with no traces of a third. The work is situated near the road between
Camelford and Wadebridge, about 2-1/2 miles from the latter, which is a
well protected port. It consists - or rather I should say consisted - of two
concentric circles, each with rampart and ditch. It is obviously a British
camp. A road now cuts it into two nearly equal parts, of which that on the
south has been nearly obliterated, while the northern segment is
comparatively uninjured. The ramparts, of which the inner is the higher,
present a maximum height of perhaps 15 feet, judging roughly by the eye.
The diameter of the remaining semicircle is about 210 yards, measuring
from the inside of the outer rampart, while the semi-circumference in the
same position is 290 yards. On the west side are the traces of an outwork,
or partial enclosure, which was evidently designed to protect the

The extravagance of the archer who 'shot with a lusty longbow' from
Kelliwic to Ireland is not quite without significance, for it may be
held to show that Kelliwic, like Kelly Rounds, was opposite the Irish

[Illustration: FIG. 4. - _From the 25-inch Ordnance Map._]

We may with some confidence identify Kelly Rounds, or Castle Killibury,
with Kelliwic, and discern in it, as in Damelioc, a definite association
with Arthur.

* * * * *

A place to which the name of _Caradigan_ is given is prominent in
Arthurian lore. This has been interpreted as Cardigan, the ancient
designation of Cardiganshire being Keridigion.[29] But Mr. E. G. B.
Phillimore, who is a great authority on ancient Welsh literature,
considers that Caradigan is not Cardigan, but Cardinam, now known as
Cardinham, a considerable, though much damaged, earthwork near Bodmin. In
this interpretation Mr. Phillimore apparently has the approval of
Professor Rhys. If Caradigan is Cardinham, this was one of the places
where Arthur held his Court. It was at Caradigan that Enid was wedded to
Eric by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the presence of Queen Guenevere.
It was to Arthur's Court at Caradigan that Lancelot brought his
newly-married wife, Iblis.

The doings at Caradigan are obviously mingled with fiction, if not wholly
fictitious. The Archbishop of Canterbury was not yet, and Eric as a knight
of mediæval chivalry is, like the Archbishop, an anachronism; but there is
something in a name, and Caradigan associates Arthur with the Cornish

Cardinham Castle, as it is called, though far inferior in size and
distinctness to Killibury and Damelioc, is worth more notice than it has
yet received. About five miles from Bodmin, on the edge of Cardinham Moor,
lies Old Cardinham, now represented by a solitary farm-house. In a field
behind the house stands an earthwork, of small extent but great natural
advantage. It is situated, like Damelioc and Kelly Rounds, on high ground
among hills which are higher than itself, but not near enough to command
it without artillery. This stronghold or place of defence displays the
remains of one rampart enclosing an ovoid or irregularly elongated space
on the side of a hill, within which the experts of the Ordnance Survey
discern a small inner circumvallation. In designing the enclosure the
natural slope has been made use of to co-operate with the rampart on the
north side, while the rampart on the south is wholly artificial, much
broken, and in places obliterated.

[Illustration: FIG. 5. - _From the 25-inch Ordnance Map._]

The partial destruction of the south wall makes the enclosure incomplete,
and gives it a horse-shoe shape. The entire circuit along the tops of the
existing and nearly obsolete ramparts is about 267 yards, and this
comparatively small circumference encloses a narrow and elongated space of
relatively small capacity. The surface is irregular, and may once have had
buildings upon it, of which there are now no remnants. This small but
well-protected enclosure seems to have been better fitted for a fortified
residence than a resort for an army. It may conceivably have held the
residential quarters of a Cornish chieftain in the sixth century, and its
legendary association with Arthur may not impossibly have had some
foundation in fact.



To piece together the dislocated fragments which are all that remain of
the life of Arthur, they thus present themselves. Arthur, though unknown
or unrecorded by the Saxon chroniclers of the invasion, who say nothing of
what went on in the west and north, finds abundant mention among the Welsh
bards and poets assigned to the sixth century, who speak of him by name,
attribute to him great fame as a warrior, and briefly refer to certain
details which connect him with places some of which can still be
identified. This positive and detailed evidence is of more weight than the
negative evidence, if so it can be called, which lies in the omission of
Arthur's name by Gildas and Bede, two ecclesiastics who touch only
incidentally upon the wars of the sixth century and are satisfied with the
mention of Ambrosius, who preceded Arthur, and apparently occupied a
position more nearly approaching that of commander-in-chief, having regard
to the whole country, than did the later champion.

But it is not my purpose now to recapitulate the writings to which I have
already referred, but only to put together, with their help, some
indications as to the probable biography of a personage who is at once so
famous and so obscure.

We may look upon Tintagel as the birthplace of Arthur, and believe that he
was the son or putative son of a petty Cornish king. The exact fitness of
Tintagel and Damelioc for the story of which they are the scene lends
probability to it: not that we need accept the narrative precisely as
related. Time, verbal transmission, and Celtic imagination have to be
allowed for; but we may without undue credulity believe that Gorlois was
slain at Damelioc and Arthur born at Tintagel. We may presume that Arthur
remained in possession and occupation of the country of his nativity.
Tintagel Castle has been from time immemorial known as King Arthur's;
Kelliwic, which is mentioned in the earliest records in connection with
Arthur, may with probability be identified with Kelly Rounds and placed
near the estuary of the Camel; and Cardinam Castle, which credible though
later tradition assigns to Arthur as a palace or residence, exists near
Bodmin. Great interest, to my mind, attaches to these memorials. Military
engineering is older than the corps of Royal Engineers; and it may be said
that the most ancient history of our country is written in earth. These
memorials, together with Tintagel, a fortification constructed by the hand
of nature, indicate that King Arthur occupied the coast line from Tintagel
to the Camel, and the inland country to the vicinity of Bodmin.

If we accept the evidence of names, that of Pentargon in particular, we
must suppose Boscastle to be included in the Arthurian country, which
would thus extend from the mouth of the Camel to the mouth of the
Vallency. The town of Camelford lies within this district, and it is
difficult not to think of Camelot as possibly on the Camel, though we have
no indication, excepting the name, to justify the assumption, and other
places compete for the distinction of supplying the site of this somewhat
hypothetical creation.

We can speak with more confidence of Kelliwic, assuming that it is still
with us under the name of Kelly Rounds. This lies 2-1/2 miles from
Wadebridge, where the Camel forms a practicable tidal harbour, and was no
doubt used as such in the sixth century. The fortification covered the
landing-place, at a convenient distance, and commanded what must have been
the chief line of communication between Arthur's Cornish domain, Wales,
Ireland, and the north-west coast. The sea is a connection rather than a
separation, and may have provided the lord of Kelliwic with an access to
the north which would have been practically unattainable by other means.

It may be doubted whether in Arthur's time the Saxons had reached
Tintagel: it is clear that in the ninth century they were fighting on the
Camel, apparently unsuccessfully, and that they never generally superseded
the Celtic population much further to the west than the traditional
territory of Arthur. That Arthur ever fought a great battle on this river
is improbable; nor is it likely that the Saxons in his time got far enough
to the west to assault his earthworks; but these at any rate may have
served as places of retreat, and been used by him as Torres Vedras was by

We may accept the statement of Nennius, who was apparently an historian of
honest intentions, that Arthur was selected to command against the Saxons,
and that in this capacity he fought many, perhaps twelve, battles. There
must, it is certain, have been much fighting in the west and north as well
as elsewhere, and we may give Arthur the credit of much of it, though
details, if not entirely absent, are by no means explicit. It seems clear
that he entered Scotland, perhaps more than once, became a prominent
character in the Lowlands, as the dissemination of his name implies, and
finally perished at Camelon or Camlan, near the Firth of Forth, fighting
against a coalition of Saxons, or, strictly speaking, Angles, Picts, and
Scots, or, according to another tradition, against one consisting of
Picts, Scots, and revolted Britons. It is a far cry from Cornwall to
Scotland, but the feat is not impossible. Agricola marched from the south
of England to Scotland at an earlier date; but he had the resources of the
Roman Empire behind him. Arthur must have been aided by his access to the
sea, and probably found allies in the Celts of the west and north-west
along the whole front of the Teutonic encroachments. His movements in the
south and in the north were attended with a series of British victories in
which the invaders were pushed back from the western parts of the island,
and which contributed to the preservation of the Celtic race in the
regions of Cornwall and Wales, where it still survives. Such achievements
were enough to make Arthur famous from the Camel to the Forth, however
little in those days of imperfect communication his reputation extended to
the 'Saxon shore.' The places where above all others he was held in memory
and where his name was handed down as a local tradition were his little
inheritance in Cornwall, where he was born, and which we cannot doubt that
he occupied - more or less; and the northern region, where he apparently
did much fighting and where he ultimately perished. I need not repeat that
if, as seems probable, Arthur's last battle was in Scotland we must
dissociate his death with the Camel and his burial with Glastonbury.

So much for what may be accepted as history. We might have had more had
the Cornish language survived like the Welsh. I do not propose to deal
with the superstructure of romance which in succeeding centuries
collected about Arthur's name. The magnitude of this echo, if so it may be
called, is in some sort a measure of the impression produced by Arthur in
his life time. The romance seems to have come chiefly from France. There
was little communication in Arthur's time between the west and east of
England: even between Cornwall and Devonshire there seems to have been
little. The chief connection between Cornwall and the rest of the world
was by sea, and Wales, Britanny and Ireland were the countries in the most
intimate association with this peninsula. Navigation is an ancient art,
older than the mariner's compass: in the comparatively late sixth century
crossing the Channel and the narrow seas must have been familiar to our
ancestors, whether Saxon or British. Britanny and Wales, countries within
touch of Cornwall, were, like it, occupied by Celts, a race gifted with
more imagination than has been granted to the practical and hard-headed
Saxon. The fictions of which Arthur is the centre, constructed chiefly in
France, but to a lesser extent in Wales, were brought to England in the
twelfth and later centuries, and replaced history by myth. In these
poetic regions this story attained a complicated development the like of
which is not to be found in British history, though we can discern
something like it in connection with the siege of Troy and the subsequent
adventures of some of the persons supposed to have been concerned in it.

That Arthur was a patriot, a defender of the soil against foreign
invaders, is sufficiently obvious. That he was also a Christian must be
believed. Christianity reached Cornwall before St. Augustine preached in
Kent: Britain probably received some sprinkling of Christianity during the
Roman occupation, though we cannot suppose that much of this religion
penetrated from London to Cornwall. The western extremity of the island
was much associated with Ireland, and we have reason to believe that as
early as the fifth century the creed of St. Patrick was brought to
Cornwall, which thus became one of the earliest places in Britain to
receive the Christian religion. It is worth observing that the ancient
Cornish crosses, of which there are so many, generally present the Greek
cross rather than the Latin, and would appear to belong to the Eastern
rather than the Western Church. The oldest of these crosses are supposed
to date back to the sixth century. It is more than probable that a Cornish
chieftain at this period would have been a Christian, and possible that
Arthur himself may have knelt before some of the crosses which still




[1] I have to thank the Rev. S. Baring-Gould for supplying me with these
particulars, which are to be found in the Report of the Launceston Meeting
of the Cambrian Archæological Society, _Archæologia Cambrensis_, No. 51,
fifth series, July 1896. This relic is preserved in the royal collection
at Osborne, and is described and figured in the _Archæological Journal_,
vol. xxiv. p. 189. The vessel is represented as in excellent preservation
and of artistic design. It is of hammered gold, and is supposed to be of
Scandinavian workmanship.

[2] See _The Four Ancient Books of Wales_, by W. F. Skene, 1868; also an
essay on Arthurian localities, by J. S. Stuart Glennie, _Merlin_, part
iii., published by the Early English Text Society, 1869.

[3] _History of Britain_, by John Milton.

[4] I need not refer to _La Morte d'Arthur_, a work of which Roger Ascham
disapproves as encouraging manslaughter and incontinence: 'yet I know,'
says Roger, 'when God's Bible was banished the Court, and La Morte
d'Arthur received into the prince's Chamber.'

[5] Skene's _Four Ancient Books of Wales_, vol. ii. p. 457.

[6] Guest's _Origines Celticæ_, vol. ii. p. 194.

[7] Dr. Guest's opinion as that of an antiquarian scholar deservedly
carries great weight, though some at least of the bardic fragments usually
ascribed to the sixth century are held by Stephens to belong to the
twelfth. (See _Literature of the Kymry_, 1849.) This writer allows certain
of these fragments to have come down from the sixth century, and the
admission of so scrupulous a critic goes far to establish their antiquity.
I may refer to Skene's _Four Ancient Books of Wales_ for information
regarding the works in question, as well as for the text of some of them.
There appears to be no reasonable doubt that Taliessin, Llymarch Hen, and
Myrddin lived in the sixth century, though their supposed compositions are
not presented to us in any manuscripts which bear an earlier date than the
twelfth. _The Black Book of Caermarthen_, which contains some of these
remnants, of the greatest reputed antiquity, was written in the time of
Henry II. But though all intermediate writings have perished or remain
hidden, we are not to infer that none ever existed. It is clear that some
of the bardic fragments refer to the sixth century; for example, that
relating to the fight at Llongborth between Geraint and, as is supposed,
Cerdric, in which Arthur is mentioned. It is possible that this and other
poems may at first have been transmitted by word of mouth, but impossible
that they could have been so conveyed for six hundred years. Intermediate
writings there must have been; these have not survived, but they are
probably fairly represented in the _Black Book of Caermarthen_ and similar
records. It cannot be doubted that these compositions relating to the
sixth century, by whatever means and with whatever modifications they
reached the twelfth century, must have had some substantial foundation. It
would have been impossible in the twelfth century to create out of nothing
stories and allusions so suited to the sixth in historic probability and
local association.

[8] Skene's _Four Ancient Books of Wales_, vol. i. p. 426.

[9] Quoted from the edition by J. A. Giles in _Six Old English

[10] See the _Chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon_.

[11] As bearing upon Arthur's early campaigns and their connection with
Scotland, it is of interest to recall the tradition which connects Arthur
with Mordred. Arthur's sister, Anne by name, married Llew, otherwise
Lothus or Lot, King of the Picts, to whom Arthur is supposed to have given
Lothian. Of this marriage came Mordred, or Modred, Arthur's nephew and
mortal enemy. From this it would appear that the southern adventurer was
associated with the northern monarch before Mordred was born, and had
visited Scotland apparently as a conqueror in the time of Mordred's

[12] An elaborate and learned disquisition relating to Arthur and his
battles is to be found in Whitaker's _History of Manchester_, published in
the year 1775. See book ii. chapter ii.

[13] Quoted by Camden from _Marianus Scotus_.

[14] _Jacit_, instead of _jacet_, calls for remark. Mr. Iago assures me
that this spelling was not unusual in the time to which the inscription
belongs, and refers to Professor Hübner for instances of Christian
inscriptions in Britain in which the same spelling was employed.

[15] See _Trigg Minor_, by Sir John Maclean, vol. i. p. 583, where is a
representation of the stone and inscription provided by Mr. Iago.

[16] Skene's _Four Ancient Books of Wales_, vol. i. p. 60; Stuart Glennie,
_Arthurian Scotland_, Merlin Early English Text Society, part iii. p. lxi.

[17] The Scots with whom Arthur fought were probably, like the Picts,
inhabitants of Scotland, though the term Scotti is also applied to a
portion of the inhabitants of Ireland.

[18] Leland's _Assertio Arturii_.

[19] There are discrepancies of date with regard to disentombment which
increase the doubts which on other grounds surround the story. The date
commonly assigned is that adopted by Camden, 1189, the last year of King
Henry's reign. Leland gives the date as 1191, in which he is followed by
Hume, in the reign of Richard I. Giraldus, who represents himself as an
eye-witness, and is necessarily the earliest authority, does not give the
year, but indicates the time within certain limits. He states that the
grave was opened by order of Henry II. during the rule of the Abbot Henry.
This Abbot was apparently Henry de Blois, the grandson of the Conqueror
and the brother of King Stephen; Henry II. was therefore his first cousin
once removed. It has been supposed that the consanguinity may have
disposed the Abbot to gratify the king by finding what he wanted. Henry de
Blois was the 37th Abbot. He was appointed in 1126, in the time of Henry
I., and died in 1171, in that of Henry II. In the year 1129, three years
after his appointment to Glastonbury, this Abbot became, according to
Leland, also Bishop of Winchester. Giraldus tells us that the discovery
took place before the Abbot became Bishop. If that were so the remains
were found not later than 1129, in the reign of Henry I., not in that of
Henry II., as Giraldus represents. Giraldus himself was not born until
1147, or 1150 (both dates are assigned); so it is evident that a large
error has come in with regard to the date of the disentombment, in
reference to the appointment of the Abbot to the bishopric. Putting aside
this contradiction as possibly due to some mistake in the ecclesiastical
records, we at any rate cannot doubt, if any credit is to be attached to
Giraldus, that the exhumation took place, if at all, in the time of Henry
de Blois, who died in 1171. This is inconsistent with the dates 1189 and
1191 which are respectively assigned to the event. Thus three Kings are
presented as contemporary with the finding of Arthur's grave, while two
Abbots and a _locum tenens_ offer themselves as immediately concerned in
the transaction. For in the last year of the reign of Henry II., in which
according to one account the grave was opened, there was no Abbot of
Glastonbury, the King from the year 1178 until his death in 1189 having
retained the Abbey in his own hands and administered it by means of a
subordinate. Thus in 1189, the date authoritatively assigned for the
concurrence of the Abbot and the King, there was no Abbot and the King was
approaching his end. In the year 1191 Richard I. and the 39th Abbot bore
sway. Like the Abbot of royal blood, he was named Henry (which may have
led to confusion), one Henry de Saliaco, but he does not supply the

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