King Arthur – The Myth Behind The Legend

With a legacy steeped in magic, folklore and swords embedded in rock, there is no evidence of his actual existence, but historian Ralph Ellis believes he’s uncovered the real identity of the King.

Here in the UK we all grew up with the legend of King Arthur. The famous British king, who saved the isle from invasion many times, pushing back the Saxon hordes who dared claim Albion for their own. His advisor Merlin, steeped in Celtic lore; the love of his life Guinevere and her dalliances with Lancelot; Galahad, Tristan, Gawain and the rest of the Knights of the Round Table; Excalibur and the Lady In the Lake; the Holy Grail; Camelot (a silly place) and the Isle of Avalon. In fact, apart from Robin Hood there is probably no more famous British legend than King Arthur. There’s one minor problem though, he’s not exactly a British. In fact there is very little evidence the great King actually existed at all – tourist honeypot grave marker at the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey notwithstanding.

There have been plenty of on-screen representations too, Sean Connery, Clive Owen, Graham Chapman, Richard Harris and Nigel Terry are the better movie incarnations of the legend, but the problem with the big-screen adaptations are that they’re based on the Thomas Mallory or Geoffrey of Monmouth variations – Clive Owen’s Roman Centurion being the exception. So when author and historian Ralph Ellis released the Grail Cypher, a book that took a different look at Arthurian history, his theories certainly turned a few heads. Where a lot of authors and academics of Arthurian lore repeat the same old tales based on Morte D’Arthur or History of the Kings of Britain, Ralph spent a lot of time correlating and cross referencing a lot of historical material. Following the train wreck that was Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of The Sword last year – made famous only because of an extremely hammy cameo by ex-football legend David Beckham – we felt we had to speak with Ralph and put the myths into some sort of historical context.

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