Reclaiming King Arthur – The Legend in the (Welsh) Landscape

The Legend in the Landscape - Still from Reclaiming King Arthur‘Reclaiming King Arthur’ -avideo produced by the University of Wales, Newport, aims to bring to life the legend of King Arthur, by examining historic evidence and the literary tradition which points to Gwent as the home of this famous character as well as to introduce an international audience to the history of this South Wales site.In thevideo – available for all to see on the University’s Instititue of Digital Learning website -Dr Ray Howell examines the relevance of King Arthur as most widely known through legend, myth, historical evidence, literature and the literary tradition which include explanation of how Caerleon in Newport can stake its claim to Arthurs round table, following 200 years of Roman occupation and how the legend has inspired writers throughout the centuries since… .

The Legend in the Landscape is filmed on location around Gwent, home to all of the University of Wales, Newports campuses where Dr Ray Howell leads the audience on a trail through the landscape exploring iron-age hill forts, beautiful views from the top of Skenfrith mountain, Roman occupation, the warriors Silures fighting back, gladiatorial battle in Caerleons Roman amphitheatre, through to the riverside public house in Caerleon, which once inspired poet Alfred Lord Tennyson to write hisIdylls of the King- and shows that there is evidence of two* different Arthursat Wales – one, an early medieval war lord, the other Arthur of Camelot and the roundtable, so often depicted though the arts.

Reclaiming King Arthur, the Legend in the Landscape is a project from the University of Wales, NewportPersonally, I so much prefer the historical Arthur andIron Age hillforts to the romantic literary King Arthur, and thus also the first part of the ‘Reclaiming King Arthur’video.A great approach to ‘bringing Iron Age ditches back to live in your imagination’- is the simple but very effective two screen setup of the video; one screen shows Dr. Ray Howellguiding us throughthehistorical sitesasthe Lodge Hill Hillfort and the Amphitheatre at Caerleon (King Arthur’s round table and court?) as they are now, whilst in the second screen you get a clear idea of how the place must have looked like in ancient times by the use of maps, plans and illustrations. I wonder if they’d mind if we would borrow that idea… .

‘Reclaiming King Arthur’ is the second in a series of online videos by the Institute of Digital Learning, the first about the history ofthenew City Campus’ river site– which started as early as the Mesolithic, 6000 years-ago – starring Dr. Howell as well. “By creating this series of videos, we are using new media as part of the study experience of students on the BA (Hons) History programme at Newport,”saysDr Howell. “This brings so much more to the learning by showing history in situ.”

If you haven’t done so already, go watch ‘Reclaiming King Arthur’ at the Institue’s website!I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. In the mean while, we’ll try to convince Dr. Howell to tell us some more about the history of Gwent,Caerleon and – of course – King Arthur.

* This count does not include the famous’modern King Arthur’associated with Stonehenge, Druids and protests: King Arthur Pendragon. At the timethis blogpost is written, we have no information if King Arthur Pendragon has ever visited or resided in the Newport area. 😉