Arthur: King of the Britons or King of the Brettons

by Phill Ross about a year ago in fact or fiction

Was the legendary King Yorkshire born and bred?

Arthur: King of the Britons or King of the Brettons

Everyone has heard the legends of the once and future King, Arthur Pendragon of Camelot.

Many will associate the legend with Wales and Cornwall, particularly Tintagel Castle however recent innovations in the research into whether Arthur was an actual historical figure or not have turned up some interesting results.

In 2016, retired Professor Peter Field claimed that he had discovered the location of Camelot in the small village of Slack near Huddersfield.

Professor Field who is an expert in the literature on the Arthurian legends claims that the Roman fort which once stood close to the modern golf course is in fact also the location of the famed castle of legend.

The Roman name for the fort was Canumodunum meaning, “The Fort of the God Camul” and this could be the origin of the name Camelot.

The advantageous position of this fort would have been ideal for commanding Celtic forces against the Saxon invaders after the Roman’s left Britain.

The Professor claims that “if Arthur was a historical figure, he lived around 500 AD despite the first mention of him in Camelot coming from a French poem dated 1180.

For 18 months Professor Field researched possible locations for the site of Camelot including Tintagel, Cadbury Castle in Somerset, and two castles in Wales, Carmarthen, and Cardigan before coming to his conclusion that Slack was indeed the site of Camelot.

Slack Roman Fort, the Possible Location of Camelot

Fast forward to 2018 and a retired high school teacher and amateur historian who believes that he has discovered the birthplace of Arthur.

Adrian Gant of Cupar, East Scotland claims in his self-published book “Arthur: Legend, Logic and Evidence” that the mythical King was born around 475 AD in the small village of Barwick In Elmet.

There is a known earthen mound dating to the correct period in the village known locally as Barwick in Elmet Hillfort.

The link below gives more details on this site.

Barwick in Elmet Castle, the Possible Birthplace of Arthur.

Mr. Grant says he began trying to distinguish fact from fiction by scrutinizing 12 battles which took place during the Arthurian Period, and adds that “Beyond any doubt” Arthur was a real historical figure.

The first battle took place in 495 AD and the legend says that Arthur was selected at the age of 15; there is a very small window where Mr. Grant has discovered an individual with the correct name and who fits all the required criteria.

“There is nobody else, so therefore that is him,” said Mr. Grant despite the fact that Arthur does not appear in the only surviving account of the Battle of Badon Hill in 500 AD where he is said to have led the Britons against the Saxon invaders.

Both these accounts of Arthur and Camelot raise certain questions, if Arthur was as Mr. Grant and Professor Field Claim, from West Yorkshire, were the Britain’s he was King of actually a local tribe of Celts?

Bell Pits on an industrial scale near Bretton, West Yorkshire

16 miles south-west of Barwick in Elmet and 12 miles South East of Slack (approximately) stands the small village of Bretton.

Now home to the Yorkshire sculpture park the name Bretton derives from the old English "Brettas" meaning “The Britons” and Tun meaning enclosure, farmstead, village or estate.

The name Bretone isn’t recorded until the doomsday book of 1086 and West Bretton in 1200.

However, just over a mile and a half south by south-west of Bretton stands what is possibly Britain’s largest collection of Bell pits.

These bell-shaped pits were used from the prehistoric period right through to the early 20th Century to recover coal, flint, Iron ore and other minerals.

The bell pits which stand just off Ash Lane between Bretton and Emley are positioned on one of Wakefield’s largest coal and iron seams making this location a rich place to live in King Arthur’s time.

Could it be that King Arthur of the Britons was, in fact, King Arthur of the Brettons?

Who knows? Perhaps the sword Excalibur lays in one of the many lakes around the Wakefield or West Yorkshire locality.

Around the period Arthur was said to have lived the country was torn by warring chieftains fighting over the remnants left behind by the retreating roman armies less than a century before.

There was more than one king in the lands and each owned their own territory, although there are no actual records of a tribe of Bretton’s with a large amount of activity on an industrial scale (over 97 separate bell pits) it is easy to imagine a large settlement close by and in turn a tribe of people.

People who were known as the Bretton’s under one King, King Arthur, a Yorkshireman destined to rule.

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Phill Ross

I have been writing for 35 years starting out with poetry then moved on to song lyrics and music/band reviews,I now write mostly historical fiction and I am  currently in the process of writing my 4th novel. 

See all posts by Phill Ross