A History of Wales and King Arthur
Whether you’ve watched television adaptations of King Arthur’s heroic deeds, or read depictions of the illustrious warrior chief in classical literature, his legend is still very much alive in Wales.
The thrilling tales of romance and chivalry surrounding the legendary medieval figure continue to circulate and feature prominently in modern-day society, despite their 5th Century origins. You might recall King Arthur’s quirky side-sick, Merlin, for instance, as he was portrayed in the BBC’s action-packed fantasy drama, and, the many film adaptations of the medieval warrior himself: Excalibur (1981), Camelot (1967), and more recently, First Knight (1995).
Though nearly always played by British actors and rarely ever described as anything other than a British warrior, King Arthur and his entourage of Knights have a multitude of extraordinary links to historical sites all over Wales! It still remains largely unknown as to whether King Arthur was Welsh or British (though both countries like to make strong claims as to his nationality), but we do know one thing for certain: relics of the medieval hero’s past littered all over Wales, and inextricable links between Arthurian and Welsh mythology cannot be ignored!
Here at Rare Hideaways, we’ve put together the ultimate itinerary to help you plan your very own Arthurian adventure in Wales! Keep reading to find out more…
Lakes Llydaw, Dinas and Ogwen, Snowdonia
Excalibur, the magical sword famously carried by King Arthur was said to have been thrown into a lake, the location of which was later to be identified by Arthurian experts as almost certainly either Llyn Llydaw, Dinas or Ogwen of Snowdonia National Park.
Known collectively as the ‘Excalibur Lakes’, the three equally stunning bodies of water lie very close together and are all within the vicinity of where Arthur battled the Anglo-Saxons.
King Arthur’s Labyrinth, Corris Craft Centre
Step into a world of mythical dragons, sword-on-sword duals and the main man himself, legendary King Arthur! Ideal for a fun-filled family day out, King Arthur’s Labyrinth is a unique and immersive visitor attraction that will transport you back in time with folklore galore and Arthurian tales in abundance.
The setting of this storytelling attraction is the atmospheric subterranean caverns of Corris; a special part of Wales where Mid and North Wales intersect. Your journey underground will begin and the bow of a boat, where you’ll sail through a mesmerising, magical waterfall before setting sail right into the heart of King Arthur’s Labyrinth!
After a day spent in King Arthur’s gloomy underground Labyrinth, a little sunshine and sea air might be exactly what you need! Luckily, just half an hour drive away in nearby Aberdyfi, luxury beachfront cottages Seascape I & II are certain to offer a warm Welsh welcome.
The shiny new additions to The Trefeddian Hotel, part of our sister collection, Welsh Rarebits, these stunning self-catering properties make for a truly relaxing getaway experience by the sea. Rest up from your Arthurian adventures with a good book on the balcony, or a soothing swim in the hotel’s indoor pool.
Roman Amphitheatre, Caerleon
The first known reference to King Arthur’s infamous Round Table appeared in a French translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae. According to this text, Caerleon is the location of the legendary court of King Arthur: Camelot!
The small Welsh community, close to the nearby city of Newport, has been considered a site of archaeological significance for many years. Nestled alongside the River Usk, Caerleon is home to the striking Roman legionary fortress, Isca Augusta and an Iron Age hillfort.
The Roman Amphitheatre at Caerleon is widely considered to be the remnants of King Arthur’s Round Table, where his entourage of knights would congregate and serve to uphold the Knights’ Code of Chivalry as the legend goes. Today, Caerleon’s Amphitheatre is free to visit with no pre-booking required! Simply turn up and soak up the impressive atmosphere of this historic site.
Bardsey Island, Llŷn Peninsula
One mile long and less than a mile wide, Bardsey Island is known for being the resting place of 20,000 saints, dating from the early middle ages. Steeped in history, legendary tales and an abundance of eclectic wildlife species, the tiny Island, although small in size, is a site of magnificent cultural significance!
Accessed via the daily boat trips that run from Porth Meudwy, Bardsey Island is located roughly 2 miles off Wales’ north-western coastline and Snowdon’s Llŷn Peninsula. Whilst above the ground, Bardsey Island’s iconic Lighthouse cannot be missed by the eye, beneath the island’s ground, the soil holds the bitter remnants of thousands of years of history. As well as the 20,000 Saints buried on Bardsey Island, it is also widely believed to be the location at which the legendary King Arthur was laid to rest. Others, however, say it is the burial place of Merlin, who sleeps in a cave guarding the thirteen treasures of Britain. Whilst the island almost certainly marks the end of the line for King Arthur or Merlin, it marks the beginning of many a magical adventure for the legendary Excalibur sword, which was said to have been forged at Bardsey Island.
Daily boat trips to the island cost approximately £35 for adults and £25 for children, but it’s well worth delving into your pockets for, given that the trips allow for between 3 and 4 hours of exploring and uncovering the various landmarks and features of Bardsey Island!
Here at Rare Hideaways, we’re always on hand to help find your perfect holiday home during your time in Wales. If the thrilling legends and medieval histories of King Arthur are the reasons behind your trip, don’t forget to book in at one of our unique properties along the way to rest up ahead of your adventures!
Taken from Visit Wales; agents of CADW