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STIRLING
Twin of Carlisle?

Some legends tell of not one, but two Camelots. So where was the second?

Tradition: In Beroul's 12th century "Romance of Tristan" a messenger is sent out from Cerniw to make a delivery to the High-King Arthur. He stops first at Caerleon, where he is informed that the King and his knights are at the round table in Stirling. Thus the ancient city is established as one of the King's many palaces around the country.

Later Dark Age History: Stirling was the ancient British City of Iudeu, and is referred to as such by Nennius. Both Nennius and Bede record how, in AD 655, King Oswiu of Northumbria was being hounded by King Penda of Mercia and his British allies. He took refuge in Iudeu (E. Stirling, L. Urbs Giudi), the mostly Northerly city in his Kingdom. It lay in the oppressed sub-Kingdom of Manau-Gododdin, right on Northumbria's Northern boundary with Pictland. From here, Oswiu sent envoys to offer Penda money in return for holding off his armies. At this point versions differ. Penda appears to have taken the cash and distributed it amongst his British allies. However, having been taken from the oppressed Northern British in the first place, this was viewed as a restitution of rightful property. Penda invaded Northumbria anyway, and the two armies met at Maes Gai (Winwaed) in the British district of Loidis, adjoining Elmet. There Penda was killed.

The Theory: Dr. Norma Lorre Goodrich tells how the author of "Perlesvaus" revealed that there were two Camelots. The first, she insists was Carlisle. The second was further north on a cliff top facing west. She suggests Arthur's Knot or the Castle at Stirling.

Possible Interpretations & Criticism: Historical references show Stirling to have certainly been a Dark Age settlement. However, whether occupation stretched back as far as the traditional Arthurian period is a matter of mere conjecture. The cliff-top site now occupied by Stirling Castle would surely be the most likely position for a Dark Age stronghold.

"Perlesvaus" is quite a late addition to the Arthurian library and probably contains little, if any, historical details not found in previous works. Arthur's Knot, though it conjures up images off a Round Table, is the remains of a 17th century Knot Garden and has nothing whatsoever to do with King Arthur.

 

    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.