[Tuesday - 05/04/99] We chose to visit Hadrian's Wall where it passed by a Roman fort called Birdoswald, the leading contender as the location of Camboglanna.
Arthur's end is cryptic, to say the least. It is dominated by a tragic battle, Briton against Briton, which probably did happen. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote of Arthur as 'the Boar of Cornwall' whose triumphs will be strangely cut short. At this point, Geoffrey seems to have pictured Arthur as disappearing from British view during Roman involvement on the continent. But, as he kept writing his History, he obviously learned that the Welsh had their own version of Arthur's end. They claimed that he fell in the 'strife of Camlann' fighting another Briton, Medraut. According to the tenth century Annales Cambiae, Camlann occurred in 539 AD. While this conflicts with other accounts (don't they all?), it lends credibility to one of our contentions that several men may have went by the name Arthur throughout this period.
The Welsh, however, included the cause of the fatal battle between Arthur and Medraut. During one of Arthur's absences, Medraut raided Arthur's residence in Cornwall, Kelliwic. His men ate all the food and Medraut is said to have struck Guinevere or worse. Arthur retaliated y raiding Medraut's fort. It is these events which lead up to the Camlann battle which proved fatal to them both.
'Kelliwic' means 'woodland' and it isn't known just where in Cornwall that is supposed to have been. But, Camlann or Camlan is probably derived from a British word, Camboglanna, or 'crooked bank,' that is, a winding river. It is known that there was a fort on Hadrian's Wall called Camboglanna. While it is a long way from Cornwall, Birdoswald does have a winding river, the Irthing, below it in a valley.
While it is certain that Camboglanna existed, could Birdoswald have been the site of Arthur's last, great battle? We talked about this in our hotel room one evening and decided that it is likely that an Arthur (pretender or one of the warriors with whom our Arthur has been euhemerized) met his fate here. But, we also felt that this wasn't the end of the man we were tracing. His journey continued elsewhere. And, so did ours.
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