Arthur's Britain MOBI ✓ Hardcover

Arthur's Britain (Classic History) We are all familiar with the heroic deeds and enchantments of the legendary tales surrounding King Arthur But what evidence is there for a real figure beneath the myth and romanceArthur's Britain assembles a wealth of information about the history of Arthur by delving into the shadowy period in which he lived Drawing on evidence from written and archaeological sources Leslie Alcock who directed the famous excavation at Cadbury Castle in Somerset England sifts history from fiction to take us back to life between the fourth and seventh centuries He also provides fascinating detail on how the Britons actually lived worshipped dressed and fought to uncover the real world and people behind the Arthurian legends


10 thoughts on “Arthur's Britain (Classic History)

  1. John David John David says:

    For a lot of Arthur enthusiasts the scholarly consensus about where he stands will be less than satisfying if he even existed at all and it’s not clear that this is definitively the case he was almost certainly a dux bellorum a war chief or battle commander not a king The characters have grown up around his legend were also added on over a period of centuries after Arthur’s life some of whom we have little to no original evidence for The real Arthur didn’t know any of them The good news? In the opinion of Leslie Alcock one of the greatest British archaeologists who spent an entire lifetime working on the problem of Arthur such a person most certainly did exist A uick word upfront to save the casual reader interested in the general outlines of the Arthurian legends some time this isn’t the book that you’re looking for In these pages are there is no Guinevere Lancelot or Mordred; no Gawain Morgan le Fay or Merlin This is almost entirely an archaeological survey of the sites we most associate with Arthur today like Glastonbury and Tintagel Castle in Cornwall As an introductory guide to the legends themselves or the various books and poems in which you can find them this volume is very nearly uselessMaybe the most approachable part of the book and the information that will be of interest to most audiences is the discussion of sources in the first fifty or so pages These pages are almost an entire course in how to navigate a text with the tools of contemporary source criticism How much reliability do newer versions of texts lose due to amanuensis error? How can you tell an older from a newer text? A few of the sources that he looks at are the Anglo Saxon Chronicle the British Historical Miscellany the Easter Annals and the De Excidia et Conuestu Brittaniae The information in the first few chapters is also where you get the book’s pure history with information about Britain straddling the fall of the Roman Empire from 367–634 ADThe rest however – and this than 200 pages – consists of little than records of pottery shards While it never loses its readability I think that the general title of the book aimed at the reader of casual as opposed to scholarly interest will probably be largely uninterested in what Alcock is writing about If on the other hand you want to know about the history of archaeology in Arthurian studies – and I do stress “history” as this book was published in 1971 – then it seems like it could possibly offer a wealth of information For those who have a subscription to the Greater Courses Plus the Netflix like streaming service associated with Great Courses there’s an entire 24 lecture course on Arthur called “King Arthur History and Legend” presented by Dorsey Armstrong an English professor at Purdue University It’s absolutely fantastic and well worth the 12 hour investment


  2. Jeff Jeff says:

    Fascinating look at Britain between the Roman and Anglo Saxon periods Interesting look too at the uestion of whether or not King Arthur actually existed Great stuff; especially if you appreciate extended discussions of historical sources archaeology etc One thing I found disconcerting was the author's puzzlement regarding the lack of remains of churches from this period His solution is that churches and houses probably looked very similar so archaeologists may mistakenly identify some churches as houses This is an odd argument especially since we know that the early christian communities did not worship in seperate buildings but worshipped in peoples homes They literally were house churches hence the lack of archaeological remains of church buildingsOver all this is a great read and an excellent intoduction to this era of history


  3. John John says:

    I've been wanting to learn about the so called Dark Ages in England between the end of Roman occupation and the Norman invasion When I got this book I didn't know that it's of a scholarly analysis than a general public summarySo if you like books that explain what the source material is what the problems are with making sense of the source material and come to the appropriate provisional conclusions you'll probably like this one I wasn't looking for that sort of text but I'm glad I read it I expect it to help me read the other books I've gotten that are clearly targeted at the general public


  4. Christopher Coleman Christopher Coleman says:

    For anyone interested in the historical Arthur this book is a must Alcock is one of the most respected British archaeologists specializing in Dark Age Britain and has excavated several important Arthurian sites most notably CadburyCamalat which some may be the historical and legendary capitol of Arthur It may be hard going to read for some since it is academic in tone but if you love the legend you'll appreciate the reality too


  5. Felix Felix says:

    This is probably one of the best academic books that I've read It's a very thorough introduction to the literary and archaeological evidence surrounding the rather nebulous so called 'Arthurian' period of British history Broadly speaking it is the period of British history beginning a little while before the fall of the Western Roman Empire up until perhaps the eighth century or so This book I should add could just as well be an introduction to the early British Dark Ages or perhaps even to the Age of BedeTo give an idea of what is covered in this book I've included the chapter headings below 1 The Nature of the Evidence2 Three Key Texts3 The Arthurian Documents4 The Historical Background AD 367 4905 The Historical Background AD 490 6346 The Archaeological Background The Nature of the Evidence7 The Culture of Roman and Sub Roman Britain8 The Culture of the Britons AD 450 6509 The Enemies of the Britons I Picts and Scots10 The Enemies of the Britons II The English11 Economy Society and Warfare12 Arthur and BritainEach of these chapters contain a rigorous study of its subject matter The earlier chapters primarily concern literary culture and the later ones primarily focus on material culture As a whole the book isn't really about Arthur per se but it is about the world in which such a figure would have lived It comes to few conclusions but instead presents evidence with relevant analysis and leaves the reader to connect the dots if they want to do soThis is not really for the general reader but for scholars or the very interested this is a great introduction to a fascinating period of British history


  6. Flint Johnson Flint Johnson says:

    There was once an up and coming archeologist who had studied under the most renowned scholar of his day in India When he returned to Britain he was offered the dig at Dinas Powys traditionally believed to be the royal site for the Powys dynasty His research and findings at one time both incredibly thorough and with the ability to make leaps of brilliance won him the recognition of his peers When funding for archeological digs flagged and it was decided to explore a local legend regarding King Arthur to drum up money he was again called upon His work on South Cadbury kept to strict scientific guidelines while allowing for the possibility of Arthur's existence His ability to walk that line won him regard among his peers the respect among enthusiasts and a standing as a hero among the romanticistsIn 1970 he again wrote on the subject of Arthur and again balanced the facts with the climate The first portion of his book goes over the inherent weaknesses of all the sources that need to be used to study the Arthurian period He then does his best with the tools at hand to describe the people society laws and warfare of the period In this he is again thorough and his arguments sound My problem with the book is neither that the author was a poor scholar even in death he is still one of the most respected experts on the period nor did he in any way compromised his integrity The book is still the first thing any individual learning about the period should read It is simply outdated on almost all counts The historical sources he spoke of are all much better understood now More sites have been excavated leading to a better understanding of the physical culture of the Britons Read the book but then read his later works He would go back to the subjects in that book over and over again in his career


  7. Genevieve Genevieve says:

    I loved this but it's probably too dry and scholarly to be very readable for anyone without a prior interest in the field However as someone who is fascinated by the so called dark ages and post Roman Britain in particular I found this careful rigorous and detailed survey of the available archaeological and written evidence about 'Arthurian' Britain and the historical Arthur delightful There is something about the deep attention that Alcock gives to the nature of the evidence that is itself intoxicating one can see the path by which knowledge of the past gradually takes shape


  8. Caleb Diffell Caleb Diffell says:

    Fascinating study of admittedly spotty evidence for the existence of a Briton war leader that could've given rise to the iconic series of legends Alcock marshals what evidence exists making inferences where warranted to arrive at a likely than not conclusion for the existence of a historical ArthurSome of the discussion is fairly technical and is hampered by poorly executed illustrations particularly the maps but the care taken with the evidence is evident throughout Warning this is a fairly dry topic but a fascinating look into the difficulties caused by lack of physical evidence from post Roman Britain


  9. Karol Kolbusz Karol Kolbusz says:

    An oustanding survey of the sub Roman Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries The author comprensively analyses scant textual and archaeological evidence to demonstrate how daily life and warfare might have looked like in the age of Arthur In his uest for the historical Arthur he arrives at a conclusion that this famous figure was probably an important leader of Romano British resistance against Saxons This book is a classic that I can highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn about what happened right after Roman legions left Britain in 410


  10. Terence Gallagher Terence Gallagher says:

    Well written well organized book giving an overview of what is known about history and material conditions in Britain from 367 to 634 The book is especially strong on archaeology with good plates and diagrams of sites and artifacts but also gives a clear summary of the sparse written sources from the period relating it all of course to the possible life and deeds of the historical Arthur The book would be especially useful to a writer setting a historical novel or fantasy in the period


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