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King Arthur was actually Arthur Mac Aedan, the sixth-century son of an ancient King of Scotland

Arthur's Excalibur

Arthur’s Excalibur

Pic: TSPL, The Scotsman

Author Adam Ardrey claims that instead of the romantic English king of legend who lived at Camelot – which is often said to be Tintagel in Cornwall or in Wales – Arthur was actually Arthur Mac Aedan, the sixth-century son of an ancient King of Scotland, whose Camelot was a marsh in Argyll. He claims that King Arthur was a Scottish, pre-Christian warlord whose remains are buried on Iona, according to the Scots historian’s new book.

He also suggests that Arthur pulled the sword Excalibur from a stone at Dunadd near Kilmartin, died near Falkirk and was buried on the Hebridean island of Iona, which he declares to be Avalon. Ardrey, an amateur historian who works as an advocate in Edinburgh and previously wrote a book claiming Merlin the wizard was actually a politician who lived in the Partick area of Glasgow, spent years investigating his theories and says that they can be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”. The assertions in his book Finding Arthur: The True Origins Of The Once And Future King are strengthened by the discovery in 2011 of what some experts believe is King Arthur’s round table in the grounds of Stirling Castle. Ardrey says he not only believes Arthur is buried in Iona but would love to see the site excavated to look for proof. He says:

The legendary Arthur is said to be buried in an island in the western seas – Avalon – but in the south of Britain there are no islands in the western seas. Iona fits all the criteria. It’s an island where hundreds of kings were buried. Some say 128. Other members of Arthur Mac Aedan’s family were buried there too. I say Arthur was also buried there.

Ardrey states that Camelot is a nondescript marshy area north of Dunadd, an ancient hill fort in ­Argyll, where the sword in the stone “scene” was enacted.

He said that he also believes Arthur’s 12 battles were fought on different sites across Scotland, including Stow in the Borders, where he says the Battle of Guinnion took place, and the Battle of the City of the Legions, which he says was fought on the site of the Roman fort of Trimontium in Melrose. He said:

The litmus test for Arthur is the 12 battles and the battle list. I was able to identify all of them geographically, as well as historically place them in context. Six of them are even in a straight line. Everything fits into context.

Trimontium, site of Roman Fort

Trimontium, site of Roman Fort

Pic: TSPL, The Scotsman

Many historians have attempted to link Arthur with Cornwall and Tintagel Castle, and in 1998 an ancient stone bearing a sixth-century inscription similar to the name Arthur was unearthed at the castle, the mythical birthplace of the legendary king. It was hoped that the discovery could prove that King Arthur had his headquarters at the site of the ruined castle on the north coast of Cornwall, but the findings – of a piece of slate inscribed with the name Artognov – Latin for the English name Arthnou – remained inconclusive. However, in 2011 it was believed that Arthur’s Round ­Table may have been ­unearthed by Glasgow University archaeologists investigating the King’s Knot in the grounds of Stirling Castle. The book also asserts that Arthur became the victim of an establishment conspiracy which was determined to recast him as an English Christian hero. It also claims that, as a Scottish man of the druidic “Old Way”, he was the last of his kind holding out against a zealous Christian onslaught. Ardrey said:

I am hoping the book provokes debate and discussion. But if I’m right, then 100 years of British history needs to be rewritten.

Read the full story at The Scotsman website.


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  1. I have heard and read many versions of this story, especially when I worked on Iona. There there is the movie with Clive Owen as Arthur that touches on this.

    The first thing I think of is that there is not one exclusive Arthur, or Artur, which seems to be in all European languages and beyond during Roman times. In Ireland he is Airt or Art.

    I am biased and like the Scottish Arthur stories, such as this, even though they may not seem as colourful as the Glastonbury, Cornwall, Welsh and Irish stories around where I live.

    I think the important thing is not to let Arthur become like a super hero like Superman or a Messiah that is to appear and solve our lives woes for us.

    There is much in all Arthur stories to fill us with wonder, motivate us, and bring clarity to our values, morality and honour.

    Good to have books like this come out from time to time to remind us that stories we hear may not have originated from a singular person.

  2. Hi Jiohn,

    Some good thoughts there, thank you! :)

    Gary xxx

  3. AllanSutherland

    Artur is named King of the Britons, just how exactly does that make him English? Especially in a time when England has not come into being? The Anglos give England their name after Artur’s time.

  4. Good one Allen. It’s amazing how folks use this stories today to define their nationalism even though these countries did not exist way back, as the lands were labelled according to tribal divisions. There was not the land ownership back then. Nationalism has come about through ownership.

  5. Hi John,

    Your comment also makes me wonder exactly what the early relationships were between labels and ownership where land was concerned. Did early man label his territory or claim owbership to it? We know that certain landscape features, the Paps of Anu, and monuments, the Brú for example were ‘associated’ with Ancient Heroes or Deities (very much like the Corryvreckan whirlpool is associated with the Cailleach) and these names point to an ancient origin. In later times, Ogham inscriptions seem to commemorate men rather than these ‘larger-than-life’ figures.. On the surface, it seems that the further back into history we go, the more the landscape becomes the realm of the Gods and less that of men or tribes. I wonder what the concept of the Land was before ‘naming’ and ‘ownership’ became fashionable? Just speculation…

    Many blessings,

    Gary xxx

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