King Arthur, A Local Hero
King Arthur Tour 2011
Report by Mike Goodman from Off The Wall.
Asked by Hadrian’s wall heritage to organise another minibus trip for them with the title of ‘Myths and Legends’, all the usual topics were being covered by other people such as; Hadrian’s wall, The Reivers and Industrial heritage, I decided to cover my favourite subject, ‘Arthurian stories associated with the local area’. Meeting at the Off The Wall coffee shop and after a good cup of coffee or tea with a homemade scone, we boarded the minibus, ably driven once again by Martin from Airbus 2000, we set off in thick fog for my first destination ‘High Hesket’, where nearby is the now drained area of Tarn Wathelin. Thankfully the fog had cleared so we had a good view of where the tarn once lay, drained in the 19century by local landowners.
Many of Arthur’s adventures are associated with this tarn, the ghost of Queen Guinevere’s mother was seen rising from the water to warn her daughter of her infidelity with Sir Lancelot, I told the story of Sir Gawain and the loathly lady, and the tale of King Arthur hunting wild boar in Inglewood forest nearby, while Sir Gawain rested by the tarn. After lunch back at the coffee shop we boarded the bus where we were to travel to the site of Arthurs last battle ‘Camlann’, which is now believed to be near the old roman fort of Camboglanna, situated in the private grounds of Castlesteads house. Stopping near the bridges over the Irthing and Cam beck I told the story of the terrible battle of Camlann, where many of the knights of the round table fell fighting the forces of Mordred, who claimed kingship over Arthur’s kingdom, finally Mordred was killed by Arthur, who in turn fell mortally wounded and as he lay there he instructed Sir Bedeivere to take his sword Excalibur and cast it into the water, whether that was the river Irthing or Talking Tarn we will never know, twice the knight failed to throw the sword into the water thinking it too valuable to throw away and each time Arthur asked him what happened when the sword hit the water, with the knight saying that nothing happened, Arthur knew he lied and instructed him to obey his order finally Bedeviere did as he was commanded and as the sword flew into the water an arm came out and caught the sword waved it twice in the air and disappeared into the water.
Returning to the king he and another surviving knight carried him away from the battlefield crossing Hadrian’s wall by the gate in the old fort they traveled along the roman road to Arthuret church near Longtown then thought to have been a hill fort with a small Christian chapel inside, there Arthur died and according to tradition his head would have been cut off and buried there, which according to local beliefs gave this place its name Arthuret meaning Arthur’s head in the old language. We travelled to the churchyard where unfortunately in thick fog I told this story however this did lend itself to the mood of the story of Arthur’s last day, finally we returned to Brampton for a warming cup of coffee to drive away the cold of the day and finished with a short slide show of pictures of Camlann and Arthuret which because of the fog my guests were unable to see much of at the time.
Tour report by Mike Goodman Off The Wall