Leading archaeologist Francis Pryor retells the story of King Arthur, legendary king of the Britons, tracing it back to its Bronze Age origins.
The legend of King Arthur and Camelot is one of the most enduring in Britain's history, spanning centuries and surviving invasions by Angles, Vikings and Normans. In his latest book Francis Pryor – one of Britain’s most celebrated archaeologists and author of the acclaimed ‘Britain B.C.’ and ‘Seahenge’ – traces the story of Arthur back to its ancient origins. Putting forth the compelling idea that most of the key elements of the Arthurian legends are deeply rooted in Bronze and Iron Ages (the sword Excalibur, the Lady of the Lake, the Sword in the Stone and so on), Pryor argues that the legends' survival mirrors a flourishing, indigenous culture that endured through the Roman occupation of Britain, and the subsequent invasions of the so-called Dark Ages.
As in ‘Britain B.C.’, Pryor roots his story in the very landscape, from Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, to South Cadbury Castle in Somerset and Tintagel in Cornwall. He traces the story back to the 5th-century King Arthur and beyond, all the time testing his ideas with archaeological evidence, and showing how the story was manipulated through the ages for various historical and literary purposes, by Geoffrey of Monmouth and Malory, among others.
Delving into history, literary sources – ancient, medieval and romantic – and archaeological research, Francis Pryor creates an original, lively and illuminating account of this most British of legends.
TV Tie in Ed
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I won't rehearse points made by other reviewers except to say that I agree that he is selective in his use of evidence and totally discounts the written accounts which have survived from this period. While I suspect that the Anglo-Saxon "invasions" were not quite the wholesale population replacement once pictured, I do think there were actual invaders and that they became the dominant group in the eastern, central and southern sections of the island. The evidence is just too strong that there were movements of large groups of peoples during the late Roman period (although probably not the mass "folk movements" of earlier histories)and I don't think the British Isles would have been any exception. His rejection of the Saxon Shore forts as defensive efforts by the late empire is unconvincing and he simply skips over why the language of a marginal group of coastal tribes, now represented by a tiny group of surviving people (the Frisians) would have become "fashionable" in the last days...
Dry, poorly edited and overall hard to read. Despite being a voracious reader and researcher on this topic, I was ready to put it down by chapter five.
Francis Pryor has written a series of excellent books about prehistory of Britain. They are easy to read and very informative. However, if you are not an archeology fan like I am, you will not like them. If you find Stonehenge and its like genuinely fascinating, don't miss these books. PKG
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