We use cookies to track usage and preferences. See Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Australia version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions >  Latest Articles > Was King Arthur actually Scottish?

Was King Arthur actually Scottish?
History Scotland

Was King Arthur actually Scottish?

Posted Monday, 24 August 2015   |   3708 views   |   General Interest   |   Comments (0) Controversial research by the author of 'Finding Arthur' suggests that the fabled king of English legend was actually a Scottish warlord.

The legend of Arthur is the foundation myth of the English speaking peoples, if not the Western World, writes Adam Ardrey.  Many believe that legend is all there is, but this is only because they insist on looking in the wrong place at the wrong time: that is, in the south of Britain at… well, at any time.

Look in the right place at the right time – Scotland in the late sixth century – and Arthur steps from legend, back into history. Unlike the south of Britain, Scotland has an historical Arthur: Arthur Mac Aedan, son of the king of Scots.

The 'litmus test' for the historical Arthur is Nennius’ list of twelve Arthur-battles, the most famous of which is the battle of Badon. Professor Alcock’s map of Arthur’s battles, in his 'Arthur’s Britain', omits some of the twelve and shows others with several possible locations: he has six possible battlefields of Badon. I believe that none of Professor Alcock’s Arthur-battles are set within a sensible geographical or historical context, far less do they have an historical Arthur attached.

In the age of Arthur, Arthur Mac Aedan, things are different. The earliest historical reference to ‘Merlin’ has him at the battle of Arderydd, fought on the River Esk, the modern Scotland-England border, in 573CE. The following year Arthur, Arthur Mac Aedan was at the hillfort Dunardry, Argyll, two miles south of the hillfort Dunadd, where his father was inaugurated king of Scots in 574CE.
‘Merlin’ and Arthur; 573 and 574; Arderydd and Dunardry: these are not simple coincidences.

The land between the hillforts Dunardry and Dunadd is still, even today, called Badden, which, like Badon is a corrupt form of Baodan, a relative of Arthur Mac Aedan’s.
Stained Glass window at Stobo Church, Scottish Borders
In 574 CE Arthur Mac Aedan was inaugurated his father’s tanist (akin to vice president) on Dunadd. He placed his foot into the footprint cut into the stone on Dunadd’s summit and was given a sword to hold, just as the British queen was given a sword to hold at her coronation: when he stepped out of the footprint holding the sword, he literally took a sword from a stone. This simple step gave rise to the wonderful story of the sword and the stone.

The mysterious island of Avalon, said to be set in the western sea and where the legendary Arthur was taken after he was killed at the battle of Camlann is Iona, Argyll, the burial place of kings and more, the burial place of Arthur Mac Aedan’s family.
Oran's Graveyard Iona / Avalon where Arthur, Arthur Mac Aedan was buried
The round table and Camlann

In 2011 archaeologists discovered a round mound buried in the shadow of Stirling Castle. This find was reported under the newspaper headline 'Find Unearthed in Hunt for King Arthur’s Round Table' because Stirling is where local tradition and the written record since the 12th century CE had placed it. Stirling is only ten miles north of Camelon, Falkirk; where Arthur, Arthur Mac Aedan, fought his last battle, the battle of Camlann.

 If Arthur Mac Aedan was Arthur all twelve of Nennius’ Arthur-battles can be set in a sensible geographical, historical, context, as can Ben Arthur, Argyll, and Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh.Merlin

Merlin was not the avuncular wizard of legend, but a scholar and politician. One twelfth-century record has him standing on Glasgow Necropolis Hill (pictured) shouting down, across the still-extant Molendinar Burn, at St. Mungo. You could not get a more precise place and time. He was assassinated by St. Mungo’s Christians at Drumelzier [sic] thirty miles from Glasgow.   (Blaise, the fictional Merlin’s mentor was in reality Cathen the Druid: known to his Christian enemies as the Blasphemer – Blaisbheum in Gaelic).

About the author
Adam Ardrey is the author of Finding Arthur published by Duckworth, London, UK & Overlook, NY, USA.
To find out more about the historical Arthur, Arthur Mac Aedan, visit Adam Ardrey’s website.

For more great articles like this get the September-October issue of History Scotland below or subscribe and save.

Single Issue - May - June 2018 Replica & Mobile Edition included
Or 799 points
6 Month Digital Subscription
Only $ 7.33 per issue
Or 2199 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 7.00 per issue
Or 4199 points

View Issues

About History Scotland

History Scotland is Scotland's premier history magazine, providing fascinating features on topics from all branches and periods of Scottish history and archaeology, written by leading historians, archaeologists and museum curators. The magazine is

More great content like this...

For more great articles like this subscribe to History Scotland today.

Most read articles this month



Nashville songwriter Mark Cawley shares some tactics for reviving those elusive creative juices when you’ve lost the flow More...
How I got  published

How I got published

The author’s debut was actually her sixth novel, she tells Dolores Gordon-Smith More...
3 Free Reads for the New Year

3 Free Reads for the New Year

Spend all your money in December? Us too. We’ve pulled together our 3 favourite free reads available for you on Pocketmags. Everyone loves a free read! More...
News from the world of the piano

News from the world of the piano

Argerich and Babayan in Cleveland More...
5 Digital Magazines for Spring

5 Digital Magazines for Spring

Here at Pocketmags, we simply cannot wait to welcome in a new season of bloom and blossom. Jumpstart your motivation with our selection of 5 digital magazines for spring. More...
3 Fitness Trends You Haven’t Tried

3 Fitness Trends You Haven’t Tried

We’ve all heard of the crazy exercises people are trying - from animal yoga to orange theory. But if one of your New Year's resolutions is to get fit and find some sort of exercise you’ll enjoy then maybe you will love one of these… More...
How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Without a Valentine

How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Without a Valentine

It’s been hitting you in the face since the 1st of February, from the red and pink hues occupying every storefront window, to the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate taking over your local supermarket, there is simply no escaping the mushy romantic vibes of Valentine’s Day. More...
Take your research to the next level

Take your research to the next level

Starting with this issue, and running all through 2018, the Academy learning experience will help you learn more about the records, resources and research skills you need to become the best genealogist you can be. We have case studies for you to pit your wits against, documents for you to decipher, old handwriting for you to tackle, and more… More...
5 Free Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day

5 Free Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day

It’s the one, and the only day of the year that is devoted to a crazy, little thing called love. Where all you need are three words, eight letters and twenty-four hours to steal the heart of the one you most desire. More...
Great British Cake Decorator Winner 2017

Great British Cake Decorator Winner 2017

We talk fondant and fairytales with the 2017 winner of our Great British Cake Decorator competition, Nicola Gerrans of Nicola Gerrans Cake Design More...
Vouchers Gift Cards A magazine subscription is the perfect gift but you'll need something to show on the big day. View All
Ways to Pay Pocketmags Payment Types
At Pocketmags you get Secure Billing Great Offers HTML Reader Gifting options Loyalty Points