Arthurian LegendSaint Dubricious

The Myths and Legends of King Arthur.

Herefordshire's connections with the legends of King Arthur are many and it's difficult to separate historical fact from focklore and legend. King Arthur's cave on the Doward hillside is certainly a prehistoric cave, if it was ever later used by King Arthur is another matter. Arthur's stone in the Golden Valley is almost certainly a prehistoric burial mound rather than the mythical stone from which Arthur drew the sword.

However there is plenty of evidence of a definite historical figure perhaps a Celtic King or Chieftan who fought against the Saxon Invaders in the late 6th century with a Royal British lineage that may hark back to Constantine the Great. Arthur's mother Igraine (Ygerna) was the daughter of Amlawdd Wledig a member of the Royal House of Dumnonia and probably a nobleman of Ergyng (Erging) an ancient British Kingdom that was known as Ariconium by the Romans and later Archenfield and is today South Herefordshire.

Another strong link between the area and Arthur is the British Saint Dubricius also born in Ergyng he founded a seminary at Hentland a small village a few miles from Ross-on-Wye and Churches at Hentland, Whitchurch and Ballingham are dedicated to him. St. Dubricius is said to have been the one who crowned the victorious Arthur 'King of the Britons'.

The 9th century historian Nennius wrote of Arthur executing his traitorous son Mordred and his burial at 'Licat Amr' in Ergyng, believed to be Wormelow Tump near Much Dewchurch. Nennius's description is today displayed in the pub at Wormelow. It is also claimed that Arthur's father Uther Pendragon built his castle in the north of the region near Kington. Arthur's cohorts Geraint and Gawain also both had connections with Herefordshire. By the 12th century Arthur had already become a Celtic hero after Geoffrey of Monmouth's 'Historia regum Britanniae' (The History of British Kings) 1137AD had portrayed him as the master of a European empire.

Gerald of Wales (a medieval historian) tells that before he died Henry II sent a message to the monks of Glastonbury Abbey telling them of the location of Arthur's grave after being given the information by a 'Welsh Bard'. His bones are said to have been discovered around 1190AD by the monks of Glastonbury buried between two stone pyramids in a hollowed out log beneath which was found a stone inlaid with a leaden cross bearing the latin inscription: "Here lies King Arthur in his tomb with Guinevere his wife in the Isle of Avalon".

Some say the inscription doesn't mention Guinevere and others that it says "his second wife Guinevere" and even that the whole thing was staged by Henry II's "spin doctors" to add to Henry's credibility and to dispell the myth that Arthur would one day return to rescue Briton in it's hour of greatest danger.

If the bones that were found there really were those of Arthur and Guinevere, they are said to have been re-interred in 1278 by Edward I in a more appropriate place within the Abbey and the leaden cross was attached to the top of a marble coffin and remained there until the English Reformation in 1539 when it's likely they were destroyed during Henry VIII's dissolution of the Monasteries. The leaden cross is however known to have survived and spent a hundred years in the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist, Glastonbury. It was last recorded in the early 18th century in the possession of one Mr William Hughes, Chancellor of Wells but it has since been lost, the search for the cross and the true history of the real Arthur continues to this day.