British historian Adrian Grant believes the legendary leader was born in Barwick-in-Elmet, not Tintagel
A British historian claims to have found evidence that King Arthur really did exist – and was born near Leeds in Yorkshire, and not Tintagel in Cornwall.
Adrian Grant, 70, believes the legendary leader was born around 475AD in the kingdom’s capital, Barwick-in-Elmet, a once sprawling stronghold.
His theory disputes the folklore tale that Arthur was conceived at Tintagel – and challenges academics who believe he is just a myth and never existed.
The conclusion is the result of a six-year research programme which Adrian embarked upon because of a reviewer’s comment about his last book.
He set out to prove or disprove Arthur’s existence by critically examining 12 major battles he is believed to have fought in during the Arthurian campaign.
But instead he uncovered what he says is the truth about the legend – and also claims to have debunked several myths along the way.
Arthurian legends have often been depicted in songs, paintings, Welsh and Irish folk tales, poems, books and in more recent times television and film.
It has previously been accepted among many historians that the Arthurian legend was a “satirical and mythologising” tale told by bards as entertainment.
However, retired high school teacher Adrian says his research proves “beyond any doubt” that Arthur was real.
He sought empirical evidence from 9th and 10th century extant texts like Historia Brittonum and the Annales Cambriae, and from British monk, Gildas The Wise writings.
Legend has it that Arthur was conceived at Tintagel in the 12th century when King Uther Pendragon used Merlin’s sorcery to appear like the Duke of Cornwall, the husband of Igraine, Arthur’s mother.
But Adrian believes Arthur was the son of Masgwid Gloff, a 5th-Century king who ruled over the kingdom of Elmet – a region located in what is now the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Arthur was born, he says, in around 475AD in the kingdom’s capital, Barwick-in-Elmet, a once sprawling stronghold.
Today, the village – seven miles east of Leeds city centre – has just under 5,000 residents.
His family castle would have stood on or near to Hall Tower Hill, an existing mound and ditch once home to an Iron Age fort.
Adrian said: “I think I have uncovered the truth. The key thing to uncovering the truth is to understand the lie, the nature of the lie and why it was told.
“In the case of Arthurian legend a lot of it is not lies but satirical. A lot of Arthurian legend might be the tales told by bards as entertainment.
“What you have in the legend is first of all, satire and second of all mythologising which takes place after Arthur’s death.
My understanding is, one of the reasons why it was confected was English kings wanted an heroic ancestry to match the likes of Charmalane.
“They wanted an alternative hero in which they could claim descent.”
At the age of 15, Arthur was chosen by the chiefs of the ‘Hen Ogled’ or ‘Old North’ – the kingdoms of northern England – as their Pendragon, or Commander-in- Chief.
He was tasked with uniting the region’s armies and defending Brittonic lands to the south of the Antonine Wall from the Picts and Scots.
Arthur, who was never made king, developed exceptional military prowess and led 12 successful battles against the Picts and Scots before his death at the battle of Camlann in around 537AD.
Until now, Arthurian experts believed the battles – if they ever took place at all – were
fought against the Anglo-Saxons, and not against the Picts and Scots.
The Historia Brittonum, or ‘History of the Britons’, penned by a Welsh monk called Nennius in around 830AD, and the 10th-Century Annales Cambriae, which chronicled events across Britain, are both said to support his conclusions.
“This study was conducted with a view of separating fact from fiction and history from legend,” added Adrian.
“Previous researchers have approached the matter in a completely different way. They have made assumptions that have turned out to be unwarranted.
“I decided to approach the matter in an inverse way. For example, I started by identifying who Arthur was fighting against.
“There are lots of reasons why they concluded he was fighting the anglo-saxons, I’m not ruling out that he may have done at some stage but 12 battles took place in Scotland against the Scots and Picts.
“The thing is you have a limited time scale. The first battle was in 495AD and the legend says that Arthur was selected at the age of 15.
“That leaves you with a date between 475AD and 480AD as to when he was born.
“We have a very small window and you have an individual with the right name and that fits all the necessary questions, there is nobody else so therefore that’s him.”
His study and conclusions appear in new book Arthur: Legend, Logic & Evidence, which is out this week.