I’ve been thinking about iron age forts and ley lines this week, after a mission to try and find King Arthur and Merlin at Camelot. I am pleased to report that Merlin is alive and well.
According to the 16th Century historian and poet, John Leland, the Iron Age hillfort, Cadbury Castle in Somerset, is the location of Camelot. I’d seen the sign to South Cadbury on the A303 many times over the years, so with a bit of spare time on my way back from Woolacombe in North Devon, I took the detour to find out if I was more likely to find a bar of Dairy Milk than King Arthur’s legendary castle.
It was worth the trip, no chocolate, a little car park and a fairly steep walk up a stoney track take you into a large open area (18 acres apparently) wrapped with grass ramparts. The central space felt too open and exposed, so I walked around the ramparts clockwise. Looking east you can see beautiful, lush hills which, in my ‘defend my hillfort’ mode, suggested I’d have a line of defence up there. To the south, a small village with a gorgeous little orchard in a walled garden sits immediately below the fort. In the distance, you can see that ridge that runs behind the Dorset coastline.
So, I am standing on these ramparts admiring the view, feeling quite at home, contemplating the idea of this as an Iron Age fort, but to be honest more thinking about what a great place it would be to build a small hilltop town, when a large blackbird flies overhead. It circled me three times before swooping off. As it flew off, the weather immediately changed: the wind whipped up and black storm clouds came in from the west. Glastonbury Tor disappeared, and I got wet through. Blinded by the driving rain I looked up again, with the thought: that bird was Merlin (it made one of those echoey caws didn’t it?).
Without a place to hide, Camelot’s Great Hall isn’t there anymore I can report, so I pressed on to the top of the main open space towards a circular stone. It was put there in 2000 and has a stainless-steel disk pointing out various landmarks. Glastonbury Tor and Maiden Castle are marked (can’t see either), as is Stonehenge, along with Avebury stone circle and Tintagel Castle – Arthur’s apparent conception point with the help of my friend Merlin. Great I thought, a load of places I can’t see, I’m soaking wet, I’ve been stalked by a flying wizard and I need a drink. So during a rapid descent to the Camelot Inn, it becomes clear this village is milking the Camelot thing. John Leland was the world’s first marketeer, sort of poetry I suppose.
The next day I started thinking about that blackbird and lines to places I can’t see. It got me down an internet rabbit hole on leylines or ‘mystical energy highways’. It turns out that St Michael’s Mount, Mont St Michel and some places with similar names in Italy are all connected on a straight line through Europe and onto Israel. Fascinating stuff, so I started looking at where Cadbury Castle was in relation to the places on the stainless-steel disk. Looking for how they connect, for patterns in these places and places I know. There are some astonishing revelations:
Revelation one: Woolacombe, the place of my first holiday as a baby and definitely the place I have been most on holiday, the place in Dorset where I grew up, and Southsea where I have lived the longest are on my own personal leyline. No bending, no fudging. A nice, thin line skewers right through them – straight up. Now if I allow for the curvature of the earth and some other artistic work (make the line thicker) Camelot is on my leyline too.
Before you shout ‘he’s suffering from apophenia,’ hear me out. Hang on, it breaks the flow but: Apophenia is a tendency to perceive meaningful connections between unrelated things. OK, back to it:
Revelation two: Blackbird in French is Merle. So, my sixth sense was right, it was Merlin circling over me and it’s clear to me now, what I’ve really known deep down all along: I am King Arthur.
This week’s web links have nothing directly to do with King Arthur, but perhaps with some apophenia, you can make your own connections.
Any comments or suggestions you can get me at firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best
This week’s links
If you’re in the Christchurch area, the interior of the Priory is worth a quick look
Whilst on the mystical sites thing:
I hate kitchen corner units, so an article titled ‘One wall kitchen’ caught my attention
I used to read this book every summer, and just ordered a new copy. Written by a guy who used to write Miami Vice episodes
I had some lovely homemade blackberry jam last week and we are nearly at picking season
A Tuscan garden for you