Story by: Jack Foley
A NEW Hollywood take on the King Arthur legend, which purports
to tell the ‘true’ story behind the myth, has also
opened a historical debate concerning its geography.
King Arthur, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Antoine
Fuqua, portrays the legendary monarch as a Roman soldier, stationed
on Hadrian’s Wall, who leads the Romano-English against
an invading Saxon army.
It takes place in Cumbria, rather than Cornwall, and deconstructs
most of the mysticism surrounding the Arthurian legend.
But while the film, itself, looks likely to offend many who favour
the romanticism surrounding King Arthur, it could also deal a
blow to Cornwall’s tourist industry, which has built much
of its success on the popular belief that Tintagel was King Arthur’s
Seizing the opportunity for themselves, however, the Cumbria
Tourist Board now claims that the evidence is ‘overwhelming’
that his real home was there.
Not wanting to fan the flames created
by the Hollywood makeover, however, Roger Toy, the head custodian
of King Arthur's Great Halls, in Tintagel, diplomatically responded
to the debate by stating: "There are claims on the origins
of King Arthur from all over the world so we are not claiming
exclusivity to Arthur.
"The main accounts of the legend say that King Arthur was
born in Tintagel, but the real message of the Arthurian legend
is the message itself, rather than the detail of who did what
and when," he said, in an interview with BBC Online.
He predicted that the film would not have an adverse affect on
visitor numbers, maintaining that the attraction of the legend
is the story, and there are so many places attached to it.
However, Cumbria has now begun to promote the Arthurian claims
on its website, and has turned to consultant historian, John Matthews'
theory that, both historically and geographically, a Cumbrian
link works better than the theories of his links to South West
He believes that early accounts of Arthur's battles against the
Saxons, as depicted in the movie, can be fitted into the surrounding
country on both sides of Hadrian's Wall, as well as the presence
of forts such as Camboglanna and Avallana.
It remains to be seen whether the movie will affect the tourism
industry of any one region, however, especially since advance
word has been fairly damning.
UK critics were less than impressed after a recent London preview,
while those in America have
largely posted negative reviews.