This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

King Arthur: The Truth Behind the Legend by…

King Arthur: The Truth Behind the Legend

by Rodney Castleden

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations
704256,427 (3.83)None
  1. 00
    Concepts of Arthur by Thomas Green (Crypto-Willobie)
  2. 00
    The Age of Arthur: A History of the British Isles from 350 to 650 by John Morris (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: A work about the so-called Arthurian Age that stimulates and infuriates in equal degree, using evidence of varied worth from a great many disciplines -- history, archaeology, literature, folklore and placename studies, to name a few -- to create a flawed unified theory of an historical period and particularly the figure that supposedly lent his name to it.… (more)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

Showing 4 of 4
I liked this book. It had an interesting argument for the existence of King Arthur that wasn't in your face. Love the Arthurian legend. ( )
  Arkrayder | Apr 22, 2016 |
Despite treading a lot of the same ground as Mike Ashley, Rodney Castleden's attempt to find the 'real' Arthur didn't irritate me nearly as much. He examines archaeological evidence along with the literary texts and the scraps of folklore remaining to try and identify a historical Arthur.

I think part of the thing that pleases me about this is that Castleden doesn't have a theory in mind that he works towards, but he works through the theories to arrive at what seems (at least to him) the inevitable conclusion. He's also quite sensitive to the fact that Arthur has a legitimate life as a cultural icon, and doesn't talk about how rubbish that whole idea is. A couple of times I was a little unpleased, but I'm unreasonably attached to a legendary Welsh Arthur.

I think I find Rodney Castleden more convincing than anything else I've read about the 'real' Arthur. Even though he tries to even name a burial site for Arthur, he seems well aware that all of his work can only be conjecture. ( )
2 vote shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
  BRCSBooks | May 22, 2012 |
Castleden is well known as an investigator into prehistoric enigmas such as the Minoan civilisation, Neolithic Britons and giant hill figures, and has here turned his attention to Arthur. As expected, this is a widely researched book burrowing into scholarly literature, archaeological reports, fringe theories and texts both ancient and modern. There are photos of relevant sites and a generous helping of detailed maps, plans and figures mostly by the author himself (though three illustrations by the present reviewer are uncredited and unacknowledged) and the whole is attractively laid out. There are a few typos, some of which didn't seem to be corrected for the paperback edition, but these don't detract too much.

After setting the scene Castleden plunges into an examination of the nature of the available early documentation and what is known of the archaeology of post-Roman Britain; he then outlines the historical context before turning his gaze on the man himself, his possible power bases and his disappearance. It won't be giving too much away to say that he plumps for a West Country setting for Arthur, but that he places his demise and burial far away from Glastonbury and not at any of the expected sites.

Though mostly based on plausibility, this is a frankly speculative work. In a wide-ranging and difficult area such as Arthurian period research it is impossible to be sure about most so-called facts, the only certainty being that most of the evidence remains at best ambiguous or at worst doubtful. Castleden builds possible scenarios upon attractive hypotheses, and this is fair enough, but the whole fails to persuade. Consciously planned as a successor to the late John Morris' The Age of Arthur, this book falls victim to the same assumptions about the reliability of medieval texts, despite a fair amount of critical appraisal.

The author is unfailingly polite to recentish theories that Arthur was Owain Ddantwyn, Athrwys or Arthmael, or that he was located exclusively in Wales or Scotland, and equally politely rejects them. I think however that there is not enough discussion of the Arthurian placename and folklore evidence outside his favoured location of the Dumnonian peninsula, nor of the forms and distribution of the name Arthur in place and time, nor of any influence that mythic archetypes may have had on the development of the Arthurian legend. Nor am I convinced by the attempts to account for the anachronistic name Camelot, anvil-shaped stones and the like as support for his historical reconstruction. And I think the problems of chronology thrown up by the probably irreconcilable dates of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Welsh Annals are too easily skated over.

There are a few other blemishes which suggest a hack-journalist approach to his material; for example, Bede never mentions Camlann (page 107), and a previously unknown 10th-century document, Some of King Arthur's Wonderful Men (page 317), is actually a modern title in a Penguin miscellany given to a translation of an excerpt from Culhwch ac Olwen.

While Castleden has made a bold attempt to locate and give substance to the best known of the insular Dark Age figures, this is nevertheless a misguided exercise in updating John Morris' The Age of Arthur (1973) for a new generation. King Arthur: the truth behind the legend (the title itself smacks of hubris) is based on poor research, unwarranted assumptions and a misplaced confidence in outdated theories. His supposed grave of Arthur, while interesting in itself as an example of a high status early medieval burial site, rests on no evidence other than nearness of date, as neither documentary nor archaeological justification exists let alone a vague local tradition (the usual standby in such claims). The best things about it are the attractive quality of the illustrations and the summaries in the opening chapters.

http://calmgrove.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/misguided/ ( )
1 vote ed.pendragon | Aug 22, 2010 |
Showing 4 of 4
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0415195756, Hardcover)

King Arthur is often written off as a medieval fantasy, the dream of those yearning for an age of strong, just rulers and a contented kingdom. Those who accept his existence at all generally discard the stories that surround him. This exciting new investigation argues not only that Arthur did exist, as a Dark Age chieftain, but that many of the romantic tales - of Merlin, Camelot and Excalibur - are rooted in truth.
In his quest for the real King Arthur, Rodney Castleden uses up-to-date archaeological and documentary evidence to recreate the history and society of Dark Age Britain and its kings. He revives the possibility that Tintagel was an Arthurian legend, and proposes a radical new theory - that Arthur escaped alive from his final battle. A location is even suggested for perhaps the greatest mystery, the whereabouts of Arthur's grave.
King Arthur: The Truth Behind the Legend offers a more complete picture of Arthur's Britain and his place in it than ever before. The book's bold approach and compelling arguments will be welcomed by all readers with an interest in Arthuriana.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:41 -0400)

A new look at the evidence to suggest that Arthur was more than just a medieval fantasy. Even suggests a location for Arthur's final resting place.

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.83)
2 1
3 1
4 2
5 2

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 136,494,531 books! | Top bar: Always visible