Sunday, April 24, 2011

King Arthur: The Scottish Legend

Above: Cover art from Sir Laurence Gardner's book Bloodline of the Holy Grail (Boston: Element Books, 2000), which provides a family tree for King Arthur on page 145.

One of the sons of the Scottish King Aidan of Dalriada was named Arthur (Arthuir Mac Aidan), and this Arthur is a strong candidate for the real King Arthur behind the ancient legend.

Traditionally, the Arthurian legends are divided among the Matter of Britain (Wales and Cornwall), and the Matter of France (Brittany and Acquitaine).

However, some revisionists have argued that there is such a thing as the Matter of Scotland -- a respectable body of sources pointing to Scotland as the birthplace of the real-life King Arthur.

Prince Arthur Mac Aidan stands high on their list of candidates for King Arthur for the following reasons:

  • His name is right

  • The time period (6th Century) is right

  • Arthuir MacAidan was a war lord who fought against Northumbrians and Picts

  • Arthuir is said to have used a Roman fort called Camelon near Falkirk

  • Arthuir had a sister called Morgan (like the legendary King Arthur)

  • Arthuir's brother was named Euwen (Owain)

  • Arthuir was a contemporary of Myrddin Wyllt, a mystic madman (model for Merlin)

  • Arthuir's father, Aidan, was buried on the Island of Iona

  • Arthuir himself was buried (582 A.D.) at a place called Invalone (Avalon?), an island near the river of Forth

  • Several local sites carry the name Arthur (Loch Arthur, bin Arthur, Arthur's seat)

  • The Kingdom of Strathclyde had close cultural and linguistic links to Wales

  • Refugees from Strathclyde may have carried their legends to Wales ca. 1000.


Carroll, David F. "The Kingdom of Manann." Arturius - A Quest for Camelot.

"Historical Basis for King Arthur - 6th Century Candidates - Artuir MacAidan" Wikipedia

King Arthur Sites in Scotland: Legend of King Arthur Homepage

National Geographic: "Was King Arthur Really King McArthur?"

Scotland's King Arthur: "Was King Arthur from Scotland?"

Undiscovered Scotland: King Arthur Feature Page

Woods, Michael. In Search of Myths and Heroes: King Arthur (Univ California Press: 2007).
Based on PBS Series at this link

Ziegler, Michelle. "Artur mac Aedan of Dalriada," The Heroic Age, Issue 1, Spring / Summer