Town Happy to Leap on Arthurian Bandwagon; LEGEND: Bid to Woo Tourists

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 27, 2002 | Go to article overview

Town Happy to Leap on Arthurian Bandwagon; LEGEND: Bid to Woo Tourists


Byline: RHODRI CLARK & DARREN DEVINE

ONE of the last remaining parts of Britain not to have claimed King Arthur has succumbed to temptation and leapt on to the bandwagon.

A pounds 120,000 marketing campaign aims to persuade American and other tourists that many of the Arthurian legends are set in and around Llangollen, Denbighshire.

Two years ago, a new book claimed the Holy Grail was kept in the ruined castle which overlooks the town.

Shortly after the book was published, a coachload of American tourists walked into Llangollen's tourist information centre and asked, ``Is this Camelot?''

The town is spending foot-andmouth relief money on this and other campaigns to woo visitors but the Arthurian trail was proving the most popular section of Llangollen's new website even before its official launch yesterday.

George Smith, chairman of Llangollen Tourism Association, said Wales as a whole had failed to capitalise on the international appeal of its most famous historical resident.

``I appreciate that some eyebrows were raised when we started on the Arthurian route,'' he said.

``There was a mindset that Cornwall or Glastonbury held the accepted links with Arthur. Just because someone lays claim to a product doesn't mean we're forbidden from entering and making a claim.

``It's easier to sneak into an existing market than create a new one.''

Cornwall attracts about 17 million visitors each year. Many come because of its claim that Arthur was based in and around Tintagel Castle.

``That isn't bad considering it's based on a castle which has no Arthurian links,'' Mr Smith said.

Llangollen would benefit if it could ``pinch'' just 1pc of the people who visit Cornwall in the belief they are following in Arthur's footsteps.

Historians and writers Steve Blake and Scott Lloyd, who live in north east Wales, spent many hours trawling through ancient documents, genealogies, maps and other sources before publishing a book called The Keys to Avalon in 2000. The book says the real Glastonbury now lies beneath the ruins of Valle Crucis abbey, two miles north of Llangollen.

The new tourist campaign also points out that a 6th-century cross near the Llangollen Canal has always been known as Croes Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere's Cross), apparently named after King Arthur's wife.

It says inscriptions on the 9th Century Elisegs Pillar mentioned Vortigern, who was killed by King Arthur's father for treachery in the Saxon invasion.

It also claims that Castell Dinas Brn - Crow Castle - was erected to house the Holy Grail. …

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