Arturius - A Quest For Camelot - The Legend of King Arthur
Arturius - A Quest For Camelot - The Legend of King Arthur

The Kingdom of Manann

Arturius - A Quest for CamelotThe Kingdom of Manann stretched from the River Forth, which was its northern border, southwards to Slamanann Sometimes its northern border pushed further north, as Clackmanann which retains the name of the ancient kingdom, lies north of the River Forth. Although an ancient British Kingdom, around the year 570 AD it was ruled by Aidan Mac Gabran (the father of Arthur).

Immediately to the north of Manann were the Pictish tribe known as the Maetae or Miathi.

In the year 574 AD King Aidan was chosen by St. Columba to be king of the Scots of Dalriada, on the remote West Coast of Scotland. Thus making Aidan as King of Scots and Britons, the most powerful King of the North.

In 574 AD then, Aidan left Manann for Dalriada, although he would still be regarded also as King of Manann. The vacuum left by his departure was, I believe, filled by his son Arthur, not as a king, but as a leader in his father's absence.

By his departure Aidan earned himself the epithet, "Vradog" or "The Treacherous", which was applied to him by the other British kingdoms in the region, and this resentment would explain why his son Arthur who remained in Manann to fight the Pict and Saxon, would be held in such high regard by the other British Kingdoms.

Arthur, according to another early source known as the "Nennius" manuscript, assumed the role of "Dux Bellorum" or "Battle Leader" of the Britons. Arthur in fact died in battle against the Miathi Picts in 582 AD, in battle which the Scots/Irish called the battle of Manann, but which the Welsh and Britons called, the battle of Camallan.

Camelot

Within this Kingdom of Manann/Manau lay an imposing Roman fortress known to them as 'Ad Vallum', but to which the names Camelot and Camelon later became attached. It is still a protected site. The fort has gone but the name has passed to a nearby village, still known to this day as Camelon, on the outskirts of Falkirk in Scotland.

Camelot was first mentioned by a French writer of the 12th century called Chrietien de Troyes. The idea of Camelot as a fortress connected with Arthur can therefore be traced to France and not Wales or England.

There are two possibilities:

  1. Camelot was simply a non-existent figment of the writer's imagination
  2. The notion of Camelot is based on a real fortress.

If it was a figment of the imagination, then that is the end of it, full stop. However, if we consider the possibility that the idea of Camelot is based on a real fortress, then there is only one serious contender - the old Roman fortress, "Ad Vallum", which lay on the outskirts of Falkirk in Scotland, just some twelve miles or so from the battlefield, where, according to the 7th century AD monk Adomnan, Arthur (Arturius) was killed while fighting the Picts.

The name Camelot is believed to be derived from the word "Camulodonum", which was the Roman name for Colchester, which lies several hundred miles away in the south of England.

However, early historians of Scotland, without the knowledge that we have today, mistakenly believed that the ruins of the Roman fortress "Ad Vallum" were in fact the ruins of Camulodonum, and because of the closeness of France and Scotland, and the influence the two countries exerted on one another, you may be certain that if the Scots believed this fortress was Camulodonum, then the French did too.

Indeed, in the early 12th century, many French religious orders existed throughout southern Scotland, and some of the Benedictine and Cistercian monks may well have been responsible for carrying the tales of Arthur from Scotland to France.

"Ad Vallum" was situated in the region where Arthur (Arturius) fought and died. This is historical fact, and despite claims to be the original Camelot by other sites in Britain - such as the hill fort at Cadbury in England, the fortress "Ad Vallum" is the only site to which the name Camelot became attached which can claim a connection with a 6th century AD warrior called Arthur (Arturius), because of its proximity to the battlefield where he fought and died in the Battle of the Miathi Picts.

However, there is no possible way to prove that Arthur actually used this fortress, and it may simply be the case that the French writer, Chrietien de Troyes, when writing his Arthurian romance, simply drew a connection between Arthur and the fortress "Ad Vallum", which happened to be in the region where, according to the monk Adomnan, Arthur (Arturius) died in battle.

In much the same way as a writer may, five hundred years from now, when writing a romantic story of Lawrence of Arabia, draw a connection between Lawrence and Damascus or Akabba, or some other place situated in the Middle East where Lawrence operated during the First World War.

Remember that Chrietien de Troyes and the other legend makers were writing romances - they were not too concerned with historical accuracy, and they almost certainly just took the bare bones of historical stories, then added the "meat".

Thus a simple two line account of a battle between Arthur and the Picts could be developed into a romance where Arthur becomes the father, or uncle, of Modred, who is the son or otherwise of Lot, the king of the Picts, and so on, one story being added to another over the centuries until eventually what was a two or three line mention of a battle from the 6th century AD becomes part of a great legend.

The Roman Fortress 'Ad Vallum'

Above: The Roman Fortress 'Ad Vallum' also known as Camelot and Camelon

The drawing depicts the North Camp. There was also a South Camp, but no plan of its foundations exist. Was 'Ad Vallum' the original Camelot? What we can say with confidence is this:

  1. It was a strategic fortress.
  2. It was there at the time of Arthur.
  3. It was in the kingdom connected with Arthur, that being Manann/Manau.
  4. It would most certainly have been used by Arthur, son of Aidan.
  5. It is the only place in the entire British Isles, known as Camelot, which can claim a genuine connection with a 6th century warrior called Arthur.

If you go to the site of 'Ad Vallum' and stand on the rise overlooking the River Carron, you can feel within yourself, as you look northwards to the land of the Picts, that this was definitely the site of ancient Camelot.

King Arthur - The Legend of King Arthur