Where Did King Arthur Fight The Saxons?

King Arthur and Merlin in the Idylls of the King

When King Arthur gave the people of Britain the gift of life and liberty, he did so at the expense of the invading Saxons. But where did he fight them? This is a very interesting question, and little is known for sure.

Nennius wrote in the Historia Brittonum that there were twelve battles fought by King Arthur (Duke of Battles, Dux Bellorum) against the Saxons.

These battles occurred in difficult to find places:

  1. At the mouth of the river which is called Glein.
  2. Above the river Dubglas in the region of Linnuis
  3. (same as above)
  4. (same as above)
  5. (same as above)
  6. Above the river which is called Bassas.
  7. In the forest of Celidon, that is Cat Coit Celidon.
  8. At the fortress of Guinnion.
  9. In the City of the Legion.
  10. On the banks of a river which is called Tribruit.
  11. On the mountain which is called Agnet.
  12. On Mount Badon.

Where were these places located? This has probably been debated since the battles themselves. Some are easier to narrow down than others, but some of them are downright impossible to know for sure.

One of those hotly disputed sites also happens to be the most important—Mount Badon. This is the last battle, and the one at which Arthur utterly defeats the Saxons.

This battle took place around the year 493 A.D., and scholars can confirm from other non-British sources that the fortunes of the Anglo-Saxons went sour around this time. Of particular note, their is a 70 year hole in the list of Anglo-Saxon leaders after the Battle of Mount Badon.

Wikipedia lists seven different possible sites for the battle, and says about the debate:

All of these depend on theories or speculations of scholars, built upon a poverty of evidence.

Liddington Castle

So where will I put my Mount Badon? When the battles officially begin in ARTHUR’s BLADE (Book 1 of the Pendragon Spiral, my second series), I am planning on putting it at Liddington Castle, which lies in Wiltshire close to the city of Baydon.

I first learned about the city of Baydon from this blog post, written by Nicola Cornick, who lives in the area.

What is interesting about this is that I was already researching Uffington Castle and its nearby White Horse as a possible site for my Battle of Mount Badon, and this is only five miles north of the city Baydon. Quite a surprise to me, actually!

So these three form a triangle: Uffington Castle, The City of Baydon, and Liddington Castle.

Stay tuned for more about my research into Uffington Castle and some of the legends and lore related to it. Especially the White Horse… especially the White Horse.

I want to close with a quote from C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength, (nicely provided by Wikipedia):

That Hideous Strength By C.S. Lewis

[Merlin] saw in memory the wintry grass on Badon Hill, the long banner of the Virgin fluttering above the British-Roman cataphracts, the yellow-haired barbarians.

He heard the snap of the bows, the click-click of steel points in wooden shields, the cheers, the howling, and the ring of struck mail.

He remembered also the evening, fires twinkling along the hill, frost making the gashes smart, starlight on a pool fouled with blood, eagles crowding together in the pale sky.

May my own writing evoke such vision!

3 thoughts on “Where Did King Arthur Fight The Saxons?

  1. The battle on Mount Badon was the only one I was familiar with from the list you mentioned. If you ever get a chance, it’d be interesting to have some posts on those other battles, though it may be difficult to find much detail about them.

    I love the quote from CS Lewis. I still haven’t read his Space Trilogy series. I hear it’s really good.

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