Historians have long debated whether King Arthur was a real person or just a hero of popular legend. Many of them think there was a real Arthur who lived at the end of the 5th and beginning of the 6th centuries.

When the Roman occupation of Britain finished, around 410, the country was divided into lots of small kingdoms. These all had to defend themselves against attacks from Saxon invaders, who came from what is now Germany and Denmark. Historians think that Arthur was possibly one of the British warrior kings who fought the Saxons.

Many places in Britain are associated with the legend of Arthur. You can still see the ruins of Tintagel Castle in Cornwall which, according to early texts, was Arthur’s birthplace. Archaeologists found objects at Cadbury Castle in Somerset which showed an important person, maybe a king, lived there at the time of Arthur and they think it might have been Arthur’s court, Camelot. In the 12th century, some monks in Glastonbury Abbey, discovered a tomb with the words “Here lies Arthur, the once King and future King”. Legends say that Arthur will return to be king one day, so maybe Glastonbury was his final resting place.

 

Illustration by Giovanni Manna, taken from King Arthur and his Knights, by George Gibson, Green Apple, Step 2 (A2/B1).