[Saturday - 05/08/99] In the monk Nennius' Historia Brittonum (circa 796 AD), he refers to Arthur as dux bellorum over the British kings at Mount Badon (Mons Badonicus). The siege itself was also the capstone conflict of eleven previous battles led by Arthur and where, tradition says, the Saxon advance into Britain was finally halted. It's chronicled that Arthur, single-handedly, defeated 960 men. It was Arthur's greatest victory and, not surprisingly, there are many claimants for its location.
The Annales Cambriae, which dated Badon at 516 AD, also listed a bellum Badonis secundo, a second battle of Badon, in 665 AD. If this meant a retaking of Badon, then the search for Badon should be in an area the Saxons had reached by 516 but had not conquered by 665. The county of Dorset then becomes the most likely candidate. The Saxons were at its borders at the beginning of the sixth century, but the British held it until circa 658-710 AD.
The Iron Age hill-fort at Badbury Rings has long been among the contenders for the site of Arthur's greatest battle against the Saxons-- Badon Hill. The claim is based primarily on the similarity in the names, but there is also a degree of incidental evidence supported by its strategic importance and the fact that it was, like Cadbury, re-fortified during the Arthurian period. Covering some 18 acres, with several outer ramparts and ditches, it commands high ground which may also account for an adjacent Romano-British settlement and the junction of several Roman roads. Badbury hill, itself, was a major cross-roads for Angle travellers. Prehistoric barrows also survive in the vicinity.
Badbury has yet to have been excavated, so it remains an uncertain contender for the Battle of Badon Hill. Still, it was difficult not to be swept up in the history of the place while walking around its perimieter and traveling the same roads as those ancient warriors.
Last modified on Wednesday, November 28, 2008|
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