"thenne he drewe his swerd
but it was so breyght in his
eyen that it gaf light lyke
The legend of King Arthur and the
Excalibur sword not only exists in Medieval England, Japan’s Kusanagi, or snake sword, has a mythical,
romanticism surrounding it. As the legend goes, the sword was discovered by
Susano - the Shinto god of the sea and storms - in the province of Izumo
(modern-day Shimane Prefecture) inside the tail of a freshly-slaughtered
8-headed snake. It eventually ended up in the Imperial Palace and was passed
down through the imperial line. In 686, the sword was moved from the imperial
court in Nara to Nagoya’s Atsuta Shrine after the sword was blamed for the
Emperor’s ill health, and subsequent death. Along with the jewel and the mirror,
it is one of the three imperial regalia of Japan, the sword representing the
virtue of valor.
The Kusanagi sword is kept at Atsuta Shrine to
this day, although it is not available for public display, and its existence
cannot be confirmed. During the Edo period, a Shinto priest claimed to have seen
the sword and supposedly perished shortly after when the sword’s curse caught up
with him. There are many alternate theories as to the true fate of the sword -
lost in battle, lost at sea, stolen by monks - but as long as the shrine insists
it has the true sword and keeps it hidden from view, the legend will
Excalibur, King Arthur's magical sword, is said
to symbolize both destruction and fertility. In one version of the legends of
Arthur, the future king proved his right to rule by pulling Excalibur out of a
stone, which no other man could do.
Arthur as proof of his birthright and of his
nobility draws the Sword in the Stone, sometimes referred to as a sword in an
anvil. It is both a test and a miraculous sign of his royalty.
The Welsh name for Excalibur was Caladvwlch and
the Irish called it Caladbolg, the name of the sword used by heros in Irish
legends derived from the calad (hard) and blog (lightning).
widely available online
In surviving accounts of Arthur, there are two
originally separate legends about the sword’s origin. The first is the "Sword in
the Stone" legend, originally appearing in Robert de Boron’s poem Merlin, in
which Excalibur can only be drawn from the stone by Arthur, the rightful king.
The second comes from the later Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin, which was taken up
by Sir Thomas Malory. Here, Arthur receives Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake
after breaking his first sword in a fight with King Pellinore. The Lady of the
Lake calls the sword "Excalibur, that is as to say as Cut-steel," and Arthur
takes it from a hand rising out of the lake.
Picture from the Sam Neill site
As Arthur lies dying, he tells Sir Bedivere (Sir
Griflet in some versions) to return his sword to the lake by throwing it into
the water. Bedivere is reluctant to throw away such a precious sword, so twice
he only pretends to do so. Each time, Arthur asks him to describe what he saw.
When Bedivere tells him the sword simply fell into the water, Arthur scolds him
harshly. Finally, Bedivere throws Excalibur into the lake. Before the sword
strikes the water’s surface, a hand reaches up to grasp it and pulls it under.
Arthur leaves on a death barge with the three queens to Avalon, where as his
legend says, he will one day return to rule in Britain’s darkest
Malory records both versions of the legend in his
Le Morte d’Arthur, and confusingly calls both swords Excalibur. The film
Excalibur attempts to rectify this by having only one sword, which Arthur
inherits through his father and later breaks; the Lady of the Lake then repairs
The story of the Sword in the Stone has an
analogue in some versions of the story of Sigurd (the Norse proto-Siegfried),
who draws his father Sigmund’s sword out of a tree where it is
In several early French works such as Chrétien de
Troyes’ Perceval, the Story of the Grail and the Vulgate Lancelot Proper
section, Excalibur is used by Gawain, Arthur’s nephew and one of his best
knights. This is in contrast to later versions, where Excalibur belongs solely
to the king. In the Alliterative Morte Arthure, Arthur is said to have two
legendary swords, the second one being Clarent, stolen by the evil Mordred.
Arthur receives his fatal blow from Clarent.
widely available online
Merlin cast the sword into a
to be released by the greatest king ever known.
Camelot faced it's darkest hour,
along came Arthur to release it's
With his mighty Knights under his command,
Arthur and Excalibur
wiped out evil across the land.
Excalibur was then given to the Lady Of The
waiting once again for the mighty king to come and take.
greatest king of English Lore,
his legend shall live forever
Arthur left his mark
We have all heard of the stories and seen the
movies of this great character and his famous sword "Excalibur". Some people
believe that King Arthur is so tied up in Celtic Mythology that he must in
origin , have been a "God". Arthur in his earliest form appears almost mythical.
A written article from October 23, 1998 reads: " The first tangible evidence
that legendary King Arthur may really have existed has been found in the ruins
of Tintagel castle in Cornwall.
The find at Tintagel, considered one of the
Arthurian "sites," is a piece of slate dating from the sixth century, marked
with a Latin inscription which translates as: "Artognou, father of a descendent
of Coll, has made this." The name, pronounced Artnou, is similar to Arthur and
may refer to the legendary King of Britain, says the British Tourist
The only 20th-century building dedicated to
Arthur is also at Tintagel. King Arthur's Great Halls was built in 1993 of
Cornish granite by millionaire Frederick Glasscock. It was built with 73
stained-glass windows with Arthurian themes and contains a granite throne and
from the Moncton Times and Transcript October 98)
This Arthurian romance story has been told and
retold for centuries, but rarely from the perspective of one of my favorite
characters; Merlin the wizard and nobody has potrayed him better than the one
and only Sam Neill. This is one my favorites of all legends of Arthur. This is
the synopsis from the 1998 movie
before the knights of the round table, before Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and
Galahad, there was a sorcerer shrouded in the mists..... and this is his
As the voice of an elderly wizard tells of a time
long ago, we open on Merlin, astride his faithful steed, Sir Rupert, making his
annual pilgrimage to Avalon Abbey. The Father Abbott takes Merlin to see his
long lost love, Nimue,whose veiled face reveals nothing, but through whose eyes
is revealed a pure and eternal love. Merlin tells her of Arthur, a man he
believes to be pure of heart, "golden, fine, handsome.....everything I dreamed
he'd be." Arthur had brought Merlin important news: King Uther is dead. Merlin
of course already knew, and told the startled young man that now he, Arthur,
will become King. Why? Because he was born to it.... because Uther was his
And so, the old wizard recounts the old times...
the bloody times...the terrible times.
King Constant, Arthur's grandfather was the first
Christain King of England. Constant was a good man, who, in his later years,
became fearful and tyrannical. During his final battle he screams at the leader
of the victorious opposing forces, Vortigern, "My son, Uther, will avenge me.
You'll never sleep easy, knowing he will come for you!" As Constant is beheaded,
the crown of England rolls across the floor to Vortigern, who crowns himself
king. Thus began a calamitous civil war which tore the country apart. Christain
churches are destroyed and defiled, as are the sacred places of the old pagan
widely available online
The country and it's people
drown in blood, A dying woman begs Queen Mab,(a powerful, charismatic and darkly
beautiful woman) to help the blood shed. At first, Mab demurs, "I can't. Too
many people have forsaken the Old Ways...I no longer have the power." The woman
pushes her to help. "Save us, and the people will come back to you, and the
peace they lost when they forsook you." Mab seeing her destiny, makes a
commitment: "I will save them,and the Old Ways. I swear
Mab informs her sister, the
beautiful, fair haired Lady of the Lake of her momentous decision." I'm going to
create a leader for the people," she declares. "A powerful wizard who'll save
Britain and bring back the people to us and the Old Ways."
The Lady of the Lake cautions her sister to be
wary, that her task may drain what powers she still has. Mab, however, vows to
fight on, telling her sister that if people stop believing in the Old Ways, Mab
and her kind will cease to exist.
Mab conjures Merlin out of a dazzling array of
colored crystals. Frik, her gnome, and manservant, watches awestruck.
Thus Merlin is born, to Elissa,who, after serving
her purpose, is abandoned by Mab to die. However, recognizing that it takes more
than tricks to raise a child, Mab drafts a former follower, Ambrosia, to raise
Merlin into adulthood. She reminds Ambrosia that Merlin is only half human, and
she will send for him"when it's time."
Years pass and a teenage Merlin is love-struck by
the beautiful Nimue, daughter of Lord Ardent. When, on a journey, she sinks into
a treacherous mudhole, Merlin first becomes aware of the special power with
which he has been blessed/cursed. He holds out a branch for her to grasp, to
save herself. It is not long enough. Merlin wills it in his mind to grow. It
does! Nimue is saved and Merlin returns to Ambrosia's cottage to announce, "I've
seen her! The most beautiful girl in the world. We'll love each other always!"
For Ambrosia, the news is bittersweet. Merlin's knowledge of his powers means
the moment she's been dreading since he was born and she became his surrogate
has arrived. Merlin must be returned to Mab. A golden horse materializes to take
Merlin away. Ambrosia parting words will haunt him forever: "Magic has no power
over the human heart. Never stop fighting for what is right."
Frik guides Merlin to Queen Mab, who annonces to
the assembled throng of fairies and elves, "This is Merlin, who comes to save
us. He will bring the people back to the Old Ways!" She tells Merlin that she
will teach him to become the most powerful wizard the world has ever
The schooling doesn't go smoothly. As
"schoolmaster" Frik informs Mab, "In his heart he doesn't like magic. The truth
is he wants to go home." And he does. Much to Mab's disgust , Merlin becomes a
runaway, desperate to return to Ambrosia , the only mother he has ever known.
When he reaches Ambrosia's cottage, she is near death. She is able, however, to
issue a final injunction to young Merlin: "Remember to only listen to your
heart." As Ambrosia dies, Merlin vents his rage on Mab: "You killed her like you
killed my real mother!" Mab tells him she is sorry about his mother and
Ambrosia, but they were casualties of war, and she's fighting to save her people
Over the grave of the beloved Ambrosia, a
crestfallen Merlin declares," I'll only ever use my power's to defeat Queen Mab,
never to help her...this I swear."
Nimue, meanwhile, grows into a stunningly
beautiful woman. We next encounter her when she's with her father, Lord Ardent,
a fawning courtier at Vortigern's campsite. Vortigern is nervous about Ardent's
loyalty, he suspects the Lord 's real attachment is to his archenemy, Prince
Uther. Vortigern announces he's taking Nimue hostage, telling Ardent to remain
loyal and she will be returned. A betrayal to Uther will mean certain death!
Vortigern is confounded trying to build a tower for his new castle. Merlin is
drafted to lend his special talent to the exercise. While doing so, he has a
vision: two dragons, one red, one white. The white one represents Vortigern, the
red one Uther. In Merlin's imagination, the red dragon triumphs.
Vortigern is in awe of Merlin's power. Forewarned about Uther's strategy,
he can act decisively. He acknowledges Merlin's extraordinary gifts, but ever
fearful of betrayal, tosses Merlin into
In jail, Merlin is reunited with his lovely
Nimue, who asks his greatest wish. Merlin reveals his vision of England at
peace, an England of kindness and chivalry, an England where men and woman feel
secure, without hatred and envy, where misery is unknown and happiness is for
Nimue indicates they share the same vision. She
also tells Merlin about the island of Avalon, home of the Holy Grail, a cup that
has the power to feed the hungry and heal the sick. Since biblical times, scores
of men have searched for it, but no one has seen it. Nimue reveals that one day
a man with a pure heart will find the Grail and peace and happiness will
Meanwhile, Mab is up to her old tricks. She tells
Vortigern she'll help him defeat Uther if he will deliver Merlin to her. She
reveals that the key to defeating Uther is to sacrifice Nimue to the great
dragon. Vortigern gives pause, but after learning that nimue's father, Lord
Ardent, has defected and joined Uther's cause, he enthusiastically agree's to
Mab's vicious scheme.
Despite Merlin's superhuman efforts to save her
from the omnipowerful dragon, Nimue is badly burned by the rampaging, fire
breathing giant. Merlin takes the gravely injured Nimue to Avalon, where the
nuns of the Great Abbey, using their knowledge of ancient herbs and potions,
struggle to save Merlin's beloved.
Merlin is angry beyond words. He screams at Mab"
You destroyed everyone I love, my mother, Ambrosia...and now Nimue!" Mab coolly
responds that the end justifies the means. She tells Merlin she did it for him,
so that he can use the power with in him. She implores the young wizard to rise
and be great. Merlin is unmoved. After vowing to destroy Mab, Merlin consults
with her good sister, the Lady of the Lake. He tells her he needs a great sword
to kill Vortigern, whom he describes as a bad king and Mab's ally. The Lady of
the Lake gives him more than a sword, she gives him the magnificent
At Winchester Castle, Merlin meets with King
Uther, his knights and lords..including the big, blustering Sir Boris and the
cool, detached Duke of Cornwall. Merlin reveals Vortigern's plans of immediate
attack. Why, Uther wonders out loud, is Merlin helping him? Because Vortigern is
the friend of his enemy (Mab), Merlin explains, "So the enemy of my enemy is my
friend." Merlin also reveals his vision of the Red Dragon defeating the White.
He tells Uther that he might make a fair to decent king. Merlin thinks good has
triumphed. He believes Uther will be a good king and help defeat Mab, but his
judgement of man is weak. He always expected too much of them...
At Pendragon Castle, the Duke of Cornwall
presents his wife the magnificent Igraine, and his daughter Morgan Le Fey, to
newly installed King Uther. Uther is overwhelmed by Ingrain's beauty; his carnal
desire apparent. He tells Merlin he wants her more than anything in the world.
"How great is your power?", he asks the wizard. "Can you make a woman love me?"
Merlin says, " No! Magic can't create love." Uther reminds Merlin that he
possesses Excalibur. A dispirited Merlin offers to attempt a spell and Uther
returns Excalibur. Merlin, in one swift move, drives the sword into a rock,
thereby waking the Mountain King. Merlin asks him to be the caretaker of
Excalibur, "Untill a good man takes it from you!" Uther tries to extricate
Excalibur from the rock. Naturally, his attempt fails.
Uther lays a month long siege to the Duke of
Cornwall at Tintagel Castle. Sir Boris reminds Uther that the kingdom is falling
apart while they tear themselves to pieces. And he adds incredulously, "All this
for a woman!"
Much to Uthers surprise, Merlin offers to help
him bed the Lady Igraine. As long as Igraine's husband, the Duke of Cornwall
isn't harmed. Why, Uther wonders would the virtuous Merlin back such an
adulterous plot? Because Uther and Igraine will have a child, a boy.. and that
child will be Merlin's! Uther asks what Merlin plans to do with the boy. "Teach
him honor and goodness." Merlin responds
When the Duke leaves Tintagel one evening, Merlin
transforms Uther into the Duke. The castle guards, not knowing of the duplicity,
permit Uther to reenter the grounds. When Uther has his way with Igraine, the
not so little Morgan Le Fey knows exactly what's up. Meanwhile the Duke, the
real Duke, is killed by Uther's men, even though letting him live was a
condition of Merlin's help.
As predicted, Igraine gives birth to a child,
Arthur. Merlin exults that at last, he will have a good man, a good king.
However, the perpetually scheming Mab deflates his expectations. She tells
Merlin he is easily fooled, that Uther's child is damned, done when Uther killed
the Duke, "Arhtur will be as his father. Because of him, the chaos of blood will
go on, and the people will return to Mab and the Old Ways."
Merlin tutors the young Arthur, not magic, but
ethics, morals and the responsibilities of being a good king. The pair ride to
Excalibur, a whole village has sprung up 'round the sword in the rock! Arhtur
confides to Merlin that he is ready, and wants to be king. He pledges to do as
he was taught, and will build a golden city, Camelot, devoted to peace and
As Arthur grasps the sword, the face of the
Mountain king appears in the rock. The young man identifies himself as the only
son of Uther, (who by the way committed suicide after the shameful death of the
Duke) and the rightful king of Briton. Mab appears and urges the Mountain King
not to give Excalibur to Arthur "He'll betray the people just as his father
did." she says. The Mountain King decrees that the boy has a good heart, and
permits Arthur to extract Excalibur from the Rock. Blood drips from his hands as
Arthur pulls the fiery sword from the stone. Mab declares ominously, "His reign
begins in blood and will end the same way."
Arhtur is crowned king, although powerful Lord
Lot refuses to recognize him as such. Lot's son, Gawain, however, does swear
allegiance to the new ruler. Peace is eventually obtained when Arthur is
magnanimous on the battlefield and Lord Lot finally acknowledges him as the new
Meanwhile, Frik, acting as always, at the behest
of Mab, goes to work on Morgan Le Fey, transforming her from a wretch into a
vision of beauty. The grand plan? Perhaps if Morgan (as Arthur, an offspring of
Igraine) had a son, he could become king! Frik introduces the nefarious Morgan
(who takes on the bogus title of Lady Marie, Queen of the Border Celts) to King
Arthur, who not knowing she is his half sister, is smitten with her.
Merlin, unaware of Mab's machinations and
believing his work was done, retired to Avalon to be with his beloved Nimue. But
as he sits beside the sleeping Nimue, he sees the obscene image of Arthur and
his half sister Morgan Le Fey making love. Merlin races to Pendragon Castle and
confronts Arthur, who, horrified, admits everything. Merlin utters a dreadful
prediction:"There will be a child. Mab will see to that. He'll be the future,
and he will destroy us."
The unrelenting Mab returns to work on another
front. She allows Nimue to see a tantalizing image of herself without the
hiddeous burn scars, her beauty restored. Mab makes her an offer: If she'll take
Merlin away to a place she's created for them, Mab will restore Nimue's beauty
permanetely, and she can live in bliss with Merlin until the end of her days.
Although obviously torn, Nimue says she can't accept the offer, it would mean
Merlin would have to abandon his cause.
On a glorious site of rolling hills and
magnificent countryside, the vision of Camelot is close to completion. Arthur
announces to Merlin that he is going to marry Guinevere, Lord Leo's daughter. As
a wedding gift, Merlin presents the couple with a tiny wooden table, with roots
like a tree. "It's a perfect circle, he tells Arthur, If you plant it in Camelot
it will grow. It will come to symbolize everything we stand for."
his part, Arthur vows to atone for his sins with Morgan. "One day, he declares,
I'll find the Holy Grail."
The years pass....At Camelot, it seems that
Guinevere has brought the priceless gift of happiness. But all good things must
end, or so it seems. Merlin begs Morgan Le Fey not to teach her young son
(fathered by Arthur) Mordred, the Old Ways. Morgan haughtily refuses his
request. Mab meanwhile, tells the young hellion that he "will be the death of
Arthur and the end of all Merlin's dreams."
Merlin seeks out the Lady of the Lake (Mab's
benevolent sister) to help him find a man to guard the throne when Arthur quests
for the Holy Grail. "You need a man pure of heart," says the Lady, and offers to
take Merlin by ship to Joyous Gard.That's where Merlin finds Lancelot, his wife,
the Lady Elaine, and their son Galahad. Lancelot is a "charismatic figure,
perhaps a little too handsome and certainly a little too complacent." Merlin
explains that he's come to find a man to stand for King Arthur in his kingdom.
Lancelot agrees to embark upon what his wife describes as "one last great
adventure." Returning to Camelot, Lancelot defeats Gawain in a jousting
tournament and wins the right to serve as protector of Guinevere's virture while
Arthur is searching for the Grail.
then IT falls apart...........................
Mab, of course is the force masterminding the
chaos. Lancelot falls in love with Guinevere. Mab makes sure Lancelot's wife,
Elaine, witnesses the act of unfaithfulness and Elaine dies of a broken heart.
Nimue seeing the hopelessness of the situation, finally makes a pact with Mab,
Nimue agrees to go to a faraway place, from which she can never return, if
Merlin will come to her there. A joyous Mab promises her he will.
Mab wrests Mordred from his mother, Morgan Le
Fey, who subsequently dies after "slipping" on some stairs. Frik, ever enamored
of Morgan, has lost his beloved and secretly tums against Mab at that
Arthur returns to Camelot sans the Grail. Mordred
("I'm your long lost son, Father") confronts Arthur with the fact of Guinevere's
adultery. He and many knights, including Sir Boris, demand the death penalty for
her treason, she is to be burned at the stake. But just as the flames around her
take hold, Merlin causes a sudden cloudburst and the flames around her stake are
doused. Lancelot cuts Guinevere free, pulls her onto his horse and they gallop
away. Merlin and Arhtur have conspired to permit the rescue. Merlin describes
Arthur's gesture as an act of love.
Finally, Merlin and Nimue are reunited in the
"Enchanted Cavern"..which, happily, is in the forest around Ambrosia's cottage
where he spent his chilhood. "This is what I've always dreamed of...," Merlin
declares, as Nimue points to her unscarred face, and they embrace.
The couples rapture is interrupted as Merlin
intuits what is happening a world away in Salisbury Plain, where Arthur and his
allies, including Gawain, Sir Boris, and Frik, are locked in fierce battle with
Mordred. Mordred slays Gawain's father Lord Lot, and almost manages to kill
Gawain. The fight is long and bloody. Arhtur, armed with Excalibur, is ready to
dispatch Mordred when the weasle utters, "Father, another sin? You'd kill your
own son?" During the split second Arthur's mental attention is diverted, Mordred
stabs him. Arthur staggers and, in a fury turns on Mordred and runs him through,
finishing his evil son. But Arthur falls too, mortally wounded.
widely available online
Merlin tells Nimue he must be by the dying
Arthur's side. Nimue makes the supreme sacrifice, she knows if Merlin leaves, he
can never return to her. Unselfishly, and with pure love, she urges him to go
Arthur dies. A grief stricken Merlin rushes to
the water's edge and hurls Excalibur high into the air. "You lied to me," he
tells the Lady of the Lake. "No" she says, "I told you the answer was at Joyous
Gard." Merlin suddenly (and far too late) realizes the protector, the man with
the pure heart, was never Lancelot, it was the boy, Galahad!
Mourning the death of her "sweet" Mordred, Mab
swears to make the whole pay for her loss and the last great battle, Mab vs.
Merlin, is joined. Mab throws swirling bursts of fire at him, but each is
expertly parried by Merlin. He refuses to retaliate. He just lets Mab expend her
waning powers. When Mab unleashes a mighty torrent of water at him, Merlin
freezes it en route. Merlin's ultimate strategy? To have all simply "forget"
Mab. And with that, Merlin, Frik, Gawain, and the whole army, simply turn their
backs on the now powerless sorceress. "You can't fight us or frighten us,"
Merlin tells her "You're just not important enough anymore. We forget you Queen
Mab. Go and join your sister in the lake and be forgotten.
In the distance, Galahad appears riding through
the winter landscape, carrying the Holy Grail...a silver cup shinning with
Old Merlin recounts the story decades later: "And
he brought with him the Holy Grail, and Spring, and the land became fertile
again and the cycle of darkness and death ended."
And what of Merlin and his beloved? Well Merlin
learns from Frik that after Mab's spells began to lose thier power, Nimue found
herself free! Ever since, she'd been searching for Merlin. Dozens of years
later, the now elderly lovers find each other. The ancient Merlin has one trick
left, and only one. He makes them young again! As they walk away, Merlin tells
her her "there's no more, that's the end of magic!"
According to one legend the infant Arthur was
thrown by the waves on the beach by Merlin's cave. King Arthur's time in history
was in the fifth century. He is identified with the known history of a Celtic
chieftain of the period who led his countrymen in the West in their resistance
against Saxon invaders. Many believe that Arthur was of a mixed Roman and
It is always difficult to prove if Arthur did
exist but certainly there was a great warrior in the West of England who had
some kind of fortress where Tintagel
Castle, (King Arthur's Castle)
is today. The original fortress has gone but archaeologists have found proof in
their diggings on the Tintagel Castle, that fifth century citizens lived on the
site. The replacement Castle was built between 1230-1236 & is now nearly 800
years old. Within two hundred years the Castle was in ruins & remains so to
this day. Earl Richard of Cornwall paid for the construction of the Castle &
it is owned by the Duke of Cornwall. For many years it has been managed by
English Heritage, who are the agents for the Duke.
Ruins of Tintangel Castle
breathtaking Atlantic Coastal Village, is famous as the legendary birth place of
King Arthur. A narrow causeway links a windswept lofty headland, with it's
dramatic ruins of a Norman Castle to the mainland, below is Merlin's
the path from church
view of Upper Wall
View of Upper walls
to upper site
across to Ruins
from the Castle
Please note; These
photographs are copyright by Sir David Flower who took these himself. This
wonderful person has let me use these beautiful pictures with written consent,
so please respect him. (copyright used by permission of (http://www.tintagelweb.co.uk/home.htm)
Cauldrons and Grail