The Future of History

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

End of the Road

This is where the story ends.

It's been quite emotional, putting the finishing touches to the final chapter.  On the one hand, I wanted to explain how the legends of Arthur and his people got removed from their proper environment and transplanted to southern Britain.  At the same time, I was eager to recount the last stage of my research journey - the visit I made in 2010 to the place where the Arthurian trail finally goes cold.

I'm pleased to say that the last chapter seems to end on a high note of sorts.  Which comes as a pleasant surprise, given the tragedies that have afflicted Arthur's people over the centuries.  The last chapter doesn't ignore their sufferings, revealing for example that in 1841 some 52 descendants of Arthur lived in the village pictured here, but by the early twentieth century the settlement was in ruins.  The people had been forced to leave.

That sort of thing makes me feel that the damage done to Arthur and his reputation by his enemies is simply part of a bigger picture of intolerance and oppression.  It is distressing to realise the extent to which Arthur's people have been persecuted through the ages, their culture suppressed, their traditions outlawed.  Some of the best of those traditions lingered longest at the village in the photo, preserving a direct link with Arthur which continued up until the nineteenth century and possibly later still.

But it's a strange thing.  The exodus of Arthur's people, thrown to the four winds as they were, means that today, the descendants of Arthur are everywhere.  In the wastes of British Columbia, in the cities of America, in Australia and New Zealand there will be people with Arthur's blood in their veins.

That seems a good note to end the book on.

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