Hic jacet Arthurus, Rex quondom, Rex futurus. ~Malory
I spent my 21st birthday in Cornwall. For the uninitiated Cornwall is the traditional country of the Dumnonii & Tintagel Castle the traditional birthplace of King Arthur....& yes, I do know that the ruins everyone paddles through were built by one Richard, Earl of Cornwall, brother to HenryIII, in the 13 century & have nothing whatsoever to do with Arthur.
Never~the~less, this is Arthur's country & the excavated site has proven to be that of a high status household between 400 ~ 700AD, which makes the time frame right. Arthur, whoever he really was, supposedly ruled Britain about the 5th century AD. The castle may have been known under the more Celtic title of Carn Brea, but it is a fact more high class Mediterranean pottery has been dug up here than from all the rest of the contemporary sites put together. From this period there are North African red~slip bowls, Carthaginian dishes, Aegean amphora fragments from the eastern Mediterranean, huge Tunisian oil jars & Byzantine jars.
Tintagel comes from the Celtic, Din Tagell, fortress of the narrow entrance & Tintagel is spectacularly situated on a narrow isthmus that runs out into the Atlantic Ocean. Water surrounds the cliff on 3 sides, throwing spray high up the cliff pillars of Cornish stone & the only entry is across the very narrow isthmus. Here, to lend verisimilitude to myth & legend, Glasgow University unearthed, in 1998, what has become known as the Artonou Stone. Inscribed in Latin is the name ARTOgNOV ~ Celtic Arthnou~ & Arth, as we all know, means Bear, & is the first part of the more familiar name, Arthur.
The place, as is only to be expected, is over~run with tourists. We were fortunate. My birthday fell on a gloomy overcast Cornish day with a nippy little wind off the sea & most of the tourists had opted for the local pub rather than the dubious pleasures of a castle that has mostly disintegrated into the sea. It is just possible, if one has a good imagination, & I do, to stand gazing out to sea & visualise a Saxon sail breach the the horizon, hear the alarm raised ...The briny scent of the sea, the rough wind, the smell of coming rain & damp heather ~ these things remain the same down all the ages & for just a moment time slips sideways, the axis of the world tilts, ghosts walk...& then some loud, obnoxious accent exclaims, " Wal, you can just imagine it all, can't you?!" Yes indeed.
We took ourselves away for the more prosaic pleasures of Cornish scones, raspberry jam & clotted cream.