Take a magical journey through the legend of King Arthur

Sword in a stone
Sword in a stone

Take a magical journey through the legend of King Arthur

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

The legend of King Arthur has been told throughout the ages. With twists and turns, and sordid affairs which would make today’s soap operas look tame, no one really knows if Arthur and his tales existed. In some versions, the young king is declared the king of Britain after pulling the sword Excalibur from an unyielding stone. In others, he is given the blade from the Lady of the Lake. In almost all renditions, he falls for beautiful Guinevere, who betrays him with Lancelot, one of Arthur’s most trusted knights. After fighting numerous conflicts, he is mortally wounded at the Battle of Camlann. The king instructs another of his knights to return Excalibur to the lake. He’s taken to the magical land of Avalon where he’s either buried or healed, depending on which version you believe. While these events may or may not have actually happened, there are plenty of places in the U.K. which claim a stake in the story.

Tintagel Castle

The spectacular Cornish coastline is home to plenty of Arthurian lore. Perched on both a small island and adjacent headland, the ruins of Tintagel Castle are rumored to be the birthplace of not only King Arthur, but also his father Uther Pendragon. Below the castle along the sandy shore is Merlin’s Cave. With the head of Merlin etched into the rocks, the magical wizard and trusted advisor is thought to have originated there.

Dozmary Pool

If you head approximately 45 minutes southeast of Tintagel, you’ll find yourself surrounded by windswept moorlands. In the midst of the undisturbed landscape is a small body of water — Dozmary Pool. According to legend, this is where the Lady of the Lake resides and where Sir Bedivere threw Excalibur as King Arthur was returned to Avalon after his final battle. While you may not get a peek at the Lady, there are plenty of hiking trails to discover around the area.

Winchester Castle

Further east, closer to Salisbury and London, is the remains of the once imposing Winchester Castle. Founded in the 11th century, only the Great Hall and stone gates stand. However, it’s what lies inside the Great Hall which is of interest to those who love Arthur lore. Hanging from the wall is a huge round tabletop with the names of King Arthur’s knights written along the edges. While it may not be the original Round Table, this reproduction was created for King Henry VIII.

Glastonbury Abbey

In a city more known for its annual August bank holiday musical festival, Glastonbury is also home to plenty of fascinating historical relics. Just east of the city is a hill—Glastonbury Tor—which many believe is the mystical Avalon. The ruins of nearby Glastonbury Abbey are the final resting place of King Arthur and his beloved Guinevere. Visitors can walk through the crumbling façade and ruins and see the simply marked tomb of where they are supposedly buried. 

Cornwall, southern England and Wales are full of footprints from the stories of King Arthur. For anyone who loves the legend, these are definitely worth a visit.

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