where King Arthur walked
Here is a quick
examination of some of the places associated with King Arthur and his
Knights in the many Literary Stories. The sources are late and the names
corrupt at best, so whether there is any truth to some of the associations
is rather doubtful. However, an attempt at their identification may tell
us something about the way in which Medieval writers perceived the
geography of Arthurian times. For a suggested map of Arthurian kingdoms, click
The place where Caradoc
of the Dolorous Tower (or the Thirteenth) retired. It is probably Pevensey
(Anderitum) in Sussex.
Somewhere in Scotland. Probably Ayrshire.
Possibly the land of Isca, that is Exeter. This would indicate
Traditionally said to be Guildford in Surrey. However, Malory's description of it
as the first stop on the road from London to Camelot (which he believed to
be Winchester) places it on the Roman Devil's Highway rather than the Medieval
A3/A31. It might be represented by modern Ascot in Berkshire, perhaps indicating
the nearby hillfort of Caesar's Camp at Easthampstead.
This was the castle of Sir Percivale's lover, Blanchfleur. It would seem
to be Bear Park near the city of Durham.
A castle, city, meadow and forest. At first sight, the name would appear to be Bedd Igraine, the grave of Igraine, King
Arthur's mother. Although this seems rather unlikely considering its other
associations. This site of the famous battle against rebellious sub-Kings,
at the beginning of King Arthur's reign, is variously said to have been on
the borders of Cornwall or Cameliard. If the former is taken to represent
the whole of Dumnonia and the latter Maelienydd in Wales, Bedegraine
should be in the Gloucestershire area. It is likely to have originally
been Chretien & Wolfram's Brandigan, home of King Evrain. This seems
to be the Roman town of Branogenium, modern day Leintwardine in
Herefordshire. It is interesting to note that, in some versions of Nennius,
King Arthur's 11th Battle is listed as 'Breguoin'. This is thought to
derive from Bravonio, an alternative form of Branogenium.
A castle that
Gawain's pall bearer's stopped at on the way from Dover to Camelot. It
probably presents Beaulieu (pronounced Bewley) in Hampshire.
An alternative form of Corbenic, the Grail Castle. The two are actually
quite separate as Cambernic is actually the kingdom around the castle. The similarity
of the two names has caused much confusion. Cambernic or, in its
complete form, Cambrian Bernicia, clearly places the Grail Castle in the
North of England. Bernicia is more or less modern Northumberland. Cambrian- ie.
British as opposed to Saxon - Bernicia refers to the pre-Saxon kingdom of
Queen Guinevere's home. She is traditionally said to come from Knucklas
Castle in Radnorshire. This lay in the Welsh region of Maelienydd. As the
main fort in the area, the name may be derived from 'Caer-Maelienydd'.
The name derives from Camelodunum, the Roman name for Colchester in Essex.
However, this is well outside traditional Arthurian areas. The city to
which the name was given by Medieval writers may have been Caerwent in
South Wales. Click here for more
Bede tells us
that Campoduno was the old British capital of Elmet. It appears to have
been somewhere near Doncaster.
The name by which Chretien De Troyes knew
Carlisle. It is probably a contraction of Carteloise, for which see below.
Probably a variation of Caerwent in Gwent.
Probably an alternative name for Carlisle, from Caer-De-Lisle.
'White Castle' was the home of Sir Bliant and his brother, Sir Celinant
and it was here that they kept Sir Lancelot safe during his period of
madness. Related episodes in Malory seem to indicate that it was near
Corbenic (in Northumberland) and also that it was identical to the Castle
of Bliant. This later was on an island which Lancelot named the Joyous
Isle. It can only have been
Lindisfarne Castle, just off Bamburgh (alias Lancelot's home, Joyous
Guard). The island of Lindisfarne is the
English 'Holy Island,' indicating that the translation of White Castle
comes from the
Welsh word 'Gwyn' which can mean both white and holy.
Castle of Maidens:
From Malory's Chapter 9. Probably Edinburgh.
Castle of Maidens:
From Malory's Chapter 13. Probably Maiden Castle in Dorset.
The name means 'Proud Castle' and may possibly represent Prudhoe Castle in
Castle De La Pelote:
It means 'Castle of the Ball'. Possibly Pelutho in Cumberland.
It could tentatively be suggested as Sulloniacis, the Roman settlement at
Brockley Hill in Middlesex, derived from 'Caer-Sull'. Or perhaps the city
of Bath which was Aquae Sulis.
Sometimes given as Tanning. Cannington in Somerset
Franco-Welsh Caer-Roy meaning King's Castle. It was given to the King of
the Fens, so might perhaps represent King's Lynn in Norfolk.
Said to be near the river Humber, but certainly in the North. Probably a
corrupt form of Caer-Weir. This is traditionally identified with Durham, a
Norman foundation. Its nearby predecessor, Binchester, is probably
meant. As the Roman Vinovium, it may have become Caer-Wein.
Cheadle in Cheshire
Clare in Suffolk.
Perhaps Glywysing, the early name for Morgannwg or Glamorgan.
Although in Welsh legend, this seems to be Castell Dinas Bran near Llangollen in
Powys; in a medieval literary context, it ought to be in the North
somewhere. If Listinoise is Northumberland, I see no reason why Corbenic
shouldn't be identified with Corbridge. The monumental buildings of the
old Roman station of Corstopitum would certainly have given the place a
mysterious and magical atmosphere.
Cranford in Devon
Dewsbury in Yorkshire
East Anglia (Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk & Essex, possibly
French for Scotland
Eastbury, either in Berkshire or Worcestershire
Possibly the same as Sorestan. The name appears to originate as a
corruption of Estanglorum, which is the Latin form of East Anglia
(Norfolk, Suffolk & Essex). However, its literary description suggests
that it was understood to be near the kingdom of Gorre (also known as
Stranggore). It is probably East Gorre, representing the British kingdom
of South Rheged (Lancashire & Cheshire).
A city in the kingdom of Gore. As Sir Kay came from Pembrokeshire, it
might seem likely that a place named after him would lay nearby. This
would suggest Gore to be the Gower Peninsula. Gaihom might be Swansea
The home of Arthur's brother-in-law, King Nentres. The latter seems to
have been confused with Arthur's other brother-in-law, King Lot, for the
name derives from 'Caer-Lot' meaning Lot's Fort. It probably represents
the hillfort of Trapain Law in Lothian, although Edinburgh Rock would be
A confusing kingdom, probably representing different areas dependant on
the source. In Malory, it is almost certainly the British kingdom of North
Rheged (modern Cumberland & Westmorland). Chretien De Troyes,
however, clearly thinks this was an alternative name for the British
kingdom of Glastening, modern Somerset. The Vulgate may possibly indicate
an area of South Wales - probably the Gower Peninsula - although Somerset
is also possible here.
Also called Guindoel. Possibly Grantchester (Roman Cambridge) or Kendal in
Possibly Winburgh in Norfolk.
Presumably Hungerford in Berkshire.
Sir Gawain stayed here before meeting the Green Knight at the Green
Chapel. If the latter was in Staffordshire as is so often said, presumably
this would be Hutton in Lancashire.
There are several Inglewoods in Britain, but the Arthurian one is clearly
that in Cumberland.
Sir Lancelot's home in Northern England. It is Bamburgh Castle in
Northumberland which was originally known as Din-Guardi.
The region around the castle of Flordemont. It is almost certainly the
civitas of Carmarthen (alias Caer-Myrddin) which became the kingdom of
Dyfed in South Wales.
This should almost certainly be Kirk Kenedon, meaning the 'Church of
Kenedon'. This is probably Capel Llangynheiddon, a few miles south-east of
Carmarthen, founded by St. Cynheiddon, a daughter of King Brychan of
Brycheiniog. The place, however, is described as a castle and city on the
sands: probably a reference to nearby Kidwelly.
Possibly the region of Lindsey in Lincolnshire.
Probably Leaventhorpe in Yorkshire.
This was supposed to have been a castle in the Forest of Broceliande ruled
by King Belinant of Sugales. Unfortunately the first is in Brittany and
the second came from South Wales. The Northern Kings also rallied their
forces here during the Saxon invasions, indicating that it was up North
somewhere. The latter location seems most likely and indicates that King
Belinant has been confused with King Celinant who lived near Corbenic (in
Northumberland). The castle had to be approached by boat, presumably being
surrounded by water: either a large river, a lake or the sea. The obvious
candidate is the Isle of Lindisfarne, probably the site of Celinant's
The Grail kingdom. The name indicates a castle rather than a larger region
and probably derives from the Franco-Welsh 'Llys-yn-Nord' meaning Court in
the North. Usually identified as modern Northumberland, one might suggest
Bamburgh or Yeavering. However, considering the Grail Kings possible associations
with the city, York might be a better alternative.
Traditionally said to be Arundel in Sussex, though it could be an
alternative form of Vagans.
Montacute in Somerset
Possibly Claremont on the Wirral.
North Wales. More specifically, Gwynedd.
Norham in Northumberland.
Probably Ysfeilion, the Anglesey-bound sub-kingdom of Gwynedd in North
Wales. It may derive from Yr Faes which became modern Llanfaes. The area
was known as Ysfeilion after the founding monarch.
Located near Joyous Guard. It probably derives from the river, the beautiful or belle
Aln and represents Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.
Presumably Pembroke in West Wales. It is described as an island,
presumably meaning a peninsula, belonging to the King of Ireland. The
Irish settled this area extensively.
Perhaps Pennington in Lancashire.
Perhaps Bintree in Norfolk.
Probably Rothesay on the Island of Bute in modern Scotland.
Probably Ribchester in Lancashire.
Probably Rhos, the sub-kingdom of Eastern Gwynedd in North Wales.
Roestock is near St. Albans in Hertfordshire; while Rowstock is near
Didcot in Berkshire.
It may just mean the Pine Forest, although the woods around Penrith in
This home of Maduc the Black was the forest where Sir Gawain captured the
rebellious King Lot of Orkney, at the beginning of King Arthur's reign,
and forced him to submit to the new monarch's rule. It can only be
Savernake Forest in Wiltshire.
Possibly the Selkirk area where a post-Roman kingdom does seem to have
survived for some years.
Probably the Sid Valley in Devon
This is given the alternative name of Oxen-ford which is clearly the city
of Oxford. However, this is always said to have been known as Rhydychen in
British times. The name probably represents the nearby hillfort on Sinodun
Hill at Wittenham in Berkshire.
Possibly the Kennet Valley in Berkshire, where the Roman settlement of
Spinis (modern Speen) stood.
Probably Ynys Manaw, the Isle of Man. Sarras may be an alternative name,
although this is usually represented as being in the Middle East.
Within the Kingdom of Gore. Possibly Sedbergh in Westmorland.
South Wales. More specifically, Dyfed.
Sometimes given as Cicaverne. It would appear to be Tichborne in Hampshire
Tour de Pin Rond:
The 'Tower of the Round Pine' is really the Tower of Pen-Rhydd, that is
modern Penrith in Cumberland. The placename means Major Ford.
St. Fagans, just outside Cardiff (in Glamorganshire).
A forest along the Thames. Probably the Berroc Forest (Windsor Forest)
from which Berkshire is derived.
A castle ruled by King Galehaut of Sorelais. Apparently near the Distant
Isles. It probably represents Whithorn in Galloway.
described as a city of castle, this is a burial mound at Alton Priors near
the ditched fortification known as the Wansdyke in Wiltshire. It was the
site of a battle with the Saxons in 592.
identifications are the © Copyright of David Nash Ford. Acknowledgement
must be given when quoting them.