One of the most enigmatic figures in world history, King Arthur has been the subject of many fantastical tales over the past 1500 years, leading many scholars to regard him and his fabled city of Camelot simply as myth. But, as Graham Phillips shows through a wealth of literary and scientific evidence, King Arthur was a real man, Camelot a real place, and the legendary Excalibur a real sword - and Phillips has located them all. The culmination of 25 years of research, including new translations of primary source material, this book provides the necessary evidence to allow King Arthur to finally be accepted as the authentic British king he was.
Inner Traditions Bear and Company
The Capital City
Could the ruins of Viroconium be those of the historical Camelot? On visiting the site of this old Roman city I was astonished to find that it stood in quiet countryside just outside the tranquil village of Wroxeter, in central England. The remains of most Roman ruins are situated at the heart of modern cities, many of their ancient secrets buried beneath office blocks, apartment buildings, and busy streets. By contrast, the foundations of Viroconium--including a section of wall around thirty feet high, the largest free-standing Roman ruin in all England--can still be seen today. What now survives above ground is what had been the heart of Viroconium, including a basilica, a bath house, and recreational hall, together with administrative structures, and a public forum. The city had been a thriving metropolis in Roman times, but what about the period Arthur seems to have led the Britons, around AD 500, some ninety years after the Roman legions departed? Did it still survive, or had it been abandoned? A small museum stood on the site, so I interviewed the curator. He explained that as the remains of Viroconium were in open countryside they provided an excellent opportunity for excavation, and much archaeological work had been conducted there. It not only revealed much about the city during Roman times, but during the post-Roman era--the period King Arthur is said to have lived.
In the mid-1960s an extensive archaeological excavation was initiated at the Viroconium site. It was to last for over a decade, bringing to light a series of remarkable discoveries. The dig, led by archaeologist Philip Barker from the University of Birmingham, produced a mass of evidence for the period following the end of Roman rule. The results showed that rather than being abandoned for a more defensive site, like so many other Roman towns of the time, Viroconium not only continued to be occupied but was rebuilt and refortified. From the excavation of post holes, and other tell-tale signs in the foundations and substructure of the city, the new buildings were found to have been made primarily of timber, not bricks and mortar like the earlier Roman town. When the evidence emerging from the dig was collated, these new buildings were discovered to have been highly sophisticated. From the timber remains, it was possible to ascertain that the buildings were large and elaborate constructions of Roman design, with colonnades and orderly facades, many being several stories high. It appears, therefore, that shortly after the Romans left, Viroconium assumed a new importance. A second stage of rebuilding took place in the late fifth century, altogether more grandiose than the first. The excavation in the center of the city showed that the area had been entirely rebuilt. Not only were new buildings erected and streets re-planned, but the infrastructure was also repaired. A new drainage system and fresh water supply was installed through an elaborate arrangement of aqueducts. Long stretches of the Roman cobbled roads were also dug up and relaid. A new kind of town came into existence. Gone was the leisure complex of the
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