A great strategist

Arthur then moved south again, probably to counter an Irish attack on Chester. The battle was fought inside the city, so presumably Arthur had to storm it. A second Scots threat led Arthur north again, where he halted them somewhere in the present Scottish borders. He was recalled south to face a renewed offensive by the Angles, then after securing the borders of Elmet, Arthur was ready to assist the southern Celts in their struggle against the Saxons.

Of all the heroes of late Celtie Britain, Arthur is the most popular, mainly due to the semi-mythical status that later medieval authors gave him. The evidence suggests that Arthur was indeed a real person. Although not a king, he was a leading warlord who stemmed the tide of Saxon advance for a few brief years. With his death, the Saxons were free to continue their conquest of the Celtic kingdoms in Britain.

Facing: Cadbury Hill in Somerset has long been associated with Arthur of the Britons. The hill is the site of a late Celtic fortress that was occupied during the Arthurian period.

Right: Glastonbury Tor in Somerset is also the site of a late Celtic stronghold or religious settlement which has been closely associated with Arthur.

In a climactic battle against the West Saxons at Badon, Arthur's Celts routed the Saxons and ensured the safety of Dumnonia for a generation. Scholars have argued over its location for years, but one of the most likely is Solsbury Hill, in the county of Somerset. In the battle, Arthur "carried the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ" on his banners. The historian John Morris suggests that the Celts were besieged for three days by a Saxon host before Arthur could break the siege and rout the Saxons. No further Saxon incursions took place in Dumnonia for over 20 years.

Little is known about his death, apart from the brief statement about the battle of Camlann (Camluan) "...in which Arthur and Metraut were slain... and there was death in Britain and Ireland." It is likely that he died during a battle against the Scots, or even against a Celtic usurper, possibly Metraut (reflecting the actions of Mordred in Arthurian legend). One likely location for this last fight was near Hadrian's Wall, in Cumbria. The age of Arthur passed from shadowy history into legend, and the Celts in Britain were left to face the Saxons without a victorious warlord to unite them.

Carlisle X

Possible locations for the battles of Arthur, and the general direction of the routes it is believed he traveled between 516 and 537.

Arthur's probable campaigns invasions from: Angles and Saxons


Plcts and Scots

X Bregueln (2)

XBadon (2) 518

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1 London



The CeLtic Tujilight

Britain. Although Oswald was killed in 642, the kingdom continued to expand. By his death it had reached the line of the Firth of Forth, and was threatening the stability of the I^icts.

Cadwallon was succeeded by his son Cadwaladr, whose policy involved encouraging Saxon rivals in Northumbria, while trying to limit the expansion of Mercia. The political rebel of the seventh century was King Penda of Mercia, whose troops had killed Oswald of Northumbria, and who made alliances with the Celtic kings of Gwynedd in order to enhance his own ambitions. He campaigned against his fellow Saxons in Northumbria and Wessex, but his plans went awry in 655, when Mercia was threatened by an invasion from Northumbria. On the eve of battle Penda's Celtic allies from Gwynedd deserted him. King Penda was slain, and for a brief period the Northumbrians controlled Mercia until Penda's son Wulfhere reclaimed his father's kingdom.

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