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Arthurian Links with Herefordshire

Arthurian Links with Herefordshire

Mary Andere

Logaston Press


"On my friend's left-hand side, as she still remembered vividly, almost in photographic detail, there were 'woods, clear, sun-filled glades with the leaves of the trees all dappled in the sunshine . . . and all around such a feeling of happiness, of liberty . . . of . . . of, oh, everlastingness about it all.'
"I nodded, because I knew she really had had an experience that had gone very deep. It was that quality of 'timelessness' that seemed to have imposed itself upon the whole scene. She was just saying to herself in quiet delight, 'Oh, this is just out of this world!' when something inside her and quite apart from her own mind said: 'Arthur and his men used to ride here.' She knew perfectly well, for some unknown and uncommunicated reason, that it was the King Arthur of the Round Table that the words referred to. Then, even as the words were formed, she heard the sound of a horn, then of voices, and with a shock of surprise, she saw men on horseback riding through the glades, cantering, talking lightheartedly amongst themselves, and with laughter that matched the golden day. They were wearing leather jackets of some sort, carrying swords and spears, but quite obviously out hunting or on exercise, not for fighting or any sort of foray.
"For ever after she was at pains to insist that she knew it was not something real that she was seeing, but a sort of 'inner vision', one within her own mind. She said it was something like seeing an old film being replayed, or like looking at an old, faded, sepia photograph. She insisted it was not in colour."

It was this story that set Mary Andere on a trail to find out how likely it was that the mysterious Arthur had ever ridden across those Herefordshire fields. Whilst knowing that St Dubrucius, long believed to be the cleric who 'crowned' King Arthur, had his seminary at Llanfrother, near where this sighting had taken place, she didn't believe that much more could be discovered. Arthur's Stone, for example, is clearly a prehistoric burial mound, not a relic of the Dark Ages. But then there is Nennius's description of the burial of Arthur's son at the Licat Anir, displayed so proudly in the pub at Wormelow and believed to relate to the old twm, or tump, destroyed in the 19th century, which once stood nearby.
She long puzzled over the pieces in the jigsaw and they gradually fell into place. Some parts are documented in old Breton and Welsh sources, only recently made available to the reader of English; others involved predicting courses of action between documented events; yet other interpreting snippets of lore.
What emerges is an Arthur who is a definite historical figure, a commander-in-chief, rather than a king, but descended from a royal British lineage that could hark back to Constantine the Great. His mother is from Erging, the land that is now south Herefordshire; his uncle, Caradoc Vraichbras, held land at Sellack. His knightly companions, Geraint and Gawain, also both had connections with Herefordshire. Developing the theme, a case is made for the siting of the eighth of Nennius's Twelve Battles of Arthur on the Doward.

This book shows that Herefordshire could indeed have strong links with Arthur and some of the events of his life and those of his "courtiers", the knights of the Round Table.