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The Arthurian legends have enthralled people from all over the world. These tales have inspired many books, poems, plays, television series, and movies. The characters from the cycle of Arthurian stories are well-known, such as Merlin. Camelot, the castle and the court associated with King Arthur has become a by-word for a place of magic and enchantment. It was the capital of the realms governed by Arthur. However, did Camelot actually exist? There is a long and on-going debate about the historicity of King Arthur and the Arthurian world. There is also a long-running debate about the original Camelot. A number of theories as to the location of the original court and castle, which inspired the story of Camelot have been proposed down the centuries. This article examines some of the locations which may have been the original model for Arthur’s stronghold and court.
==The Arthurian Legend and Camelot==
The setting for the stories of King Arthur is the period after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Britain was invaded by pagan Anglo-Saxons who killed and enslaved the native Britons. There emerged a number of Romano-British warlords who fought the invaders and who established kingdoms in the 6th and 7th century AD. It is believed by many that Arthur was one of these warlords who battled the pagan invaders or that he was a composite of several of these Brythonic leaders <ref><ref>Halsall, Guy Worlds of Arthur: Facts & Fictions of the Dark Ages (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013), p 78</ref>. There are many connections between the Arthurian stories and Wales. The first tales about the great king and hero are from Welsh poems and chronicles. However, they appear to have been widely known throughout England and even in Brittany (France). In the Middle Ages, several French writers composed cycles of stories about the king and his adventures. These were enormously influential, and they introduced new characters and themes. In the 15th century, Thomas Malory composed ‘Morte d’Arthur which was largely based on French and Welsh sources. This was one of the first printed books in England and was critical in the development of the Arthurian legends <ref> Snyder, Christopher Allen. The World of King Arthur (London: Thames & Hudson, 2000), p. 6</ref>.