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King Arthur & Avalon

Glastonbury, like Tintagel in Cornwall, South Cadbury in Somerset and Caerleon in South Wales, is linked by tradition to King Arthur; Glastonbury Abbey is said to have been his final resting place.

The Historical Figure of Arthur

Very little reliable evidence survives from the fifth and sixth centuries when the historical Arthur lived. This period is known as the Dark Ages or Post-Roman period which followed the departure of the Romans from Britain. Some historians doubt whether Arthur really existed; others see him as a warrior king who led the Britons in their resistance against the Anglo-Saxon conquest of England.

The Arthur of Medieval Literature

From the 12th century Arthur became the central figure of one of the great cycles of medieval European literature - the Arthurian romances. These have their origin in Geoffrey of Monmouth's imaginative History of the Kings of Britain, completed in 1138. Geoffrey's account provided many of the elements of the story, from Arthur's conception at Tintagel to his last battle against Mordred at Camlann and final rest in Avalon, and featured his father Uther Pendragon, his wife Guinevere, his sword Excalibur and the wizard Merlin. Later writers added further characters and many variations on Geoffrey's tale, depicting Arthur as a great warrior defending Britain from human and supernatural enemies, with related themes of the Holy Grail and the Knights of the Round Table.