Arthur, King of Scots! He's England's Hero but an Author (Who's English Himself!) Says His Real Name Was Artuir and He Was More Caledonia Than Camelot
Byline: Jim McBeth
THE great Columba raised his voice in defiance of the Atlantic wind - imploring heaven to accept the soul of a warrior prince whose legend would one day equal that of the living saint who was laying him to rest.
Decades earlier, the holy monk had placed the crown of the Dalriadan Scots on the brow of the dead man's father Aedan mac Gabrain.
He would later christen the king's son, born in the year 559, with the name of Artuir macAedain. The boy grew up to be a great and feared warrior.
Artuir, was mortally wounded in battle at the age of 35 in what is now Perthshire. He was carried by his 'knights' to the holy island of Iona, off Mull - and the legend of King Arthur was born.
History has presented him in many guises - the shining 'English' knight of Camelot, a king of the ancient Britons, or a Cornish or Welsh hero.
But after years of trawling through ancient Celtic documents, an English historian has dragged Arthur from legend to history and revealed the greatest warrior of his age was Scottish.
'I'm English born and bred so I've no axe to grind,' says Simon Andrew Stirling, who has written a book on his mission to find the real Arthur.
'He turned out to be not only Scottish but inextricably linked to St Columba at the beginning and end of his life.'
Mr Stirling, who has been fascinated by Arthurian legend since childhood, stumbled across the 'real' hero by chance. A decade ago, he and his wife, whose family are from Argyll, got married on Iona.
'I was researching the island and reading St Adamnan's Life of Columba, which was written a century or so after Columba's death,' adds the writer, who lives in Evesham, Worcestershire. 'Buried deep in the biography, there was a reference to prince Artuir.
'He was the very first person with the name Arthur to appear in the historical records. His father had been crowned by Columba in 574, as one of the earliest kings of "Scotland". But I could not just conclude that this was Arthur of legend, so I read other ancient documents from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France.'
HE adds: 'Clues began to emerge. It transpired this Arthur had a halfsister named Muirgein. It's not a big leap from that to Morgana of legend.'
The evidence was building. Mr Stirling says: 'It required a leap of faith to reconcile Arthur of the Britons with a Dalriadan Scot.'
But then he learned that Arthur's mother and grandmother were Britons.
'His mother, Creirwy, was a Princess of Lothian, which was an enclave of Britons. Arthur's grandfather had brokered an alliance between Dalriadan Scots and the Britons of the north. He was by blood and alliance allied to both "Scotland" and "England".
'In 559, the year Arthur was born, the Angles were a serious threat to everyone, moving into Northumberland and laying siege to what is now York.
'At the same time, the "Scots", who were from Ireland and colonised the West Coast, were having problems with the Picts.
'Arthur grew up in turbulent times and the research indicates that by age 14 he was in the field as a battle commander. …