Tuesday, 27 June 2017

On the trail of King Arthur

When we were planning holidays earlier in the year, I happened to see a television programme about the legendary King Arthur.  I was very surprised to see an interview with an author and historical detective who suggested that King Arthur was never based in Cornwall, but was in fact a Shropshire lad of sorts.

Of course I was intrigued, especially as we had already visited some of the sites suggested on the trail of King Arthur page of the Shropshire tourism website.

New evidence suggests that Arthur or Owain Ddantgwyn aka the Bear, ruled his kingdom from the old Roman town of Wroxeter, near Shrewsbury, his Camelot.

We visited Wroxeter in October 2012, I never imagined that the huge Roman town with walls still standing in places, was actually re-used by a legend several centuries later

 This huge piece of wall, over 20 feet high, has been standing for two millennia 

Nearby, we visited Wenlock Priory. Now identified as the probable hiding place of King Arthur's treasure

The present 12th century ruins stand on the sit of a much earlier 7th century priory, who knows where the treasure is now?

So, whilst staying in the area we were eager to tick off more Arthurian landmarks, especially the ones to the north of Shropshire.

Starting at Oswestry, it turns out that the good lady Guinevere was actually from Oswestry herself, so we visited her family home (old Oswestry hill fort) while we were there. Actually, there's not much left of the wooden buildings after over a thousand years, nothing but a big man made hill and earthworks.

You can't make it out on the photo below, but the hill has massive grooves up to six feet deep cut into it, this enabled people to move around up and down the hillside completely undetected if under attack, very clever!

Timed selfie on the top of old Oswestry hill fort 

Our next stop on holiday was the utterly delightful Whittington Castle, alleged hiding place of the Holy Grail.

Whittington is a small castle, yet perfectly formed, probably the ideal hiding place. The stone castle you see here was built by William the Conqueror's son, he demolished the previous castle from the time of King Arthur, which was built of wood.

The moat was not deep, we could see the bottom in places and inside the castle there were many pieces of armour on display which were found in the moat. We were lucky enough to watch an eel slither around in the water.

If you ever stop by, do try the cream tea. It was a warm day but the cafe was quite cool and the cream tea was tasty, generous and cheap.   

We missed several important sites from the King Arthur trail map, but the one which was the most frustrating was the possible burial site, which is on private land near the village of Baschurch, or possibly under tarmac on the main road, who knows? We drove along the road several times but as there is nowhere to stop, and no clue as to where the burial mound actually is from the road, we abandoned our search. 

If you want to read more here is an interesting piece.

Wenlock Priory and Wroxeter Roman city are under the charge of English Heritage and there is an entry fee, Old Oswestry Hill Fort is English Heritage but free to visit and Whittington Castle is free to wander round and owned by the local community. 


  1. Whittington Castle and Oswestry are on my to do list

  2. Wow, what a day for it too! Weather looks stunning. Definitely one for our list.

  3. Who'd have thought it? Shropshire is full of surprises. I only found out the other day that Jeremy Corbyn grew up there.
    Wonderful photos, the age of stuff fair takes your breath away sometimes! xxx

  4. I so enjoyed your photos of the fascinating area , I am always in awe of the history .

  5. I did know of Wroxeter as a possible site for King Arthur as I wrote my A level history project on possible sites for Camelot and trying to discover the real historical Arthur. Wroxeter was one of my sites I discussed. I concluded that actually it was nearer to Hadrian's wall at a place called Birdoswald that was formerly called Camboglanna and Arthur was really Artorius!


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