Chapter 27
Gerald of Wales (1146-1223) on
the discovery of King Arthur's
tomb.
For Giraldus, Arthur was the national hero of the Welsh. As ‘Geoffrey’
understood, the Welsh were the residue of the Britons. The Celtic lands i.e.
Dumnonia, Wales and Scotland were not integrated into Norman
hegemony. However, King Arthur was a symbol of Welsh/Briton resistance
to Saxon oppression, and according to ‘Geoffrey’s’ tradition, Arthur
(conflated with Ambrosius) had fought against invading Germanic tribes on
behalf of the Romano-Celtic ancestors of the Welsh. The hope of the Bretons
first mentioned in EAW (or GR depending upon interpretation) reflects a
view that Arthur was somehow going to return to establish the former glory
of the Celtic cultures or Britons. This view point was encouraged by Merlin’s
prophecies initially until Henry wished to revenge his loss of power by
unseating Henry II. Then the same prophecies weresqewed against the
Normans.
One view held by some scholars is that the alleged discovery of Arthur's
tomb was a propaganda stunt designed so that the English/Norman
overlords could use it against the Welsh, proving to them definitively that
their saviour was permanently deceased and would never return to liberate
them. The fabrication of a grave hardly seems a strategic rationale for
quelling the rebellion of the Welsh against their Norman masters. Firstly,
Henry II had made an accord with the Welsh and it would hardly be a cause
for the Welsh to submit once they found Arthur was in fact dead. It would
be irrational that an entire nation would lay down arms at the discovery of
Arthur’s grave.
Gerald’s testimony has been ignored because it does not fit with modern
scholars’s assessment of why and how Arthur’s body was unearthed.
Gerald was a prolific writer throughout his career. He is best known for his
historical and ethnographic works such as Topographia Hibernica (The
Topography of Ireland), Expugnatio Hibernica (The Conquest of Ireland), and
Descriptio Kambriae (The Description of Wales). It is two of his lesser-known
works which concern us here in which are contained his accounts of the
discovery of King Arthur's tomb: the Liber de Principis Instructione (On the
Instruction of Princes) c.1193 and the Speculum Ecclesiae (Mirror of the
Church) c.1216.
Gerald became a royal clerk and chaplain to King Henry II in 1184, first
acting as mediator between the crown and the Welsh Prince Rhys ap
Gruffydd. Later he was chosen to accompany one of the King's sons, John, in
1185 on John's first expedition to Ireland. This started his literary career, in
that, Topographia Hibernica is an account of his journey to Ireland. Gerald
was selected to accompany the Archbishop of Canterbury, Baldwin of
Forde, on a tour of Wales in 1188, the object being a recruitment campaign
for the Third Crusade. His account of that journey, the Itinerarium Cambriae
(1191) was followed by the Descriptio Cambriae in 1193-94. As a royal clerk,
Gerald observed significant political events at first hand. It was in this
period c.1192-3 that De principis instructione was probably written. One
expert, Charles Wood
1
says that De principis instructione was thought to be
written in or even before 1193 and says the story of Arthur’s and Guinevere’s
discovery was undoubtedly conveyed to him by monks who had participated
in the original fraud.
Again, the standard theory is that Henry de Sully is the perpetrator of the
fraud and is thought to have staged the event by supplying the bogus
Leaden cross and the relics. Gerald’s testimony in the De principis
instructione, I think, should be understood as Gerald having been present as
an eyewitness
2
and the details concerning King Henry’s involvement as
genuinely derived from first-hand knowledge. Gerald’s report of events
surrounding Arthur’s disinterment is the closest in date to the discovery of
the tomb.There is just no foundation whatsoever for modern scholars to
simple ignore Gerald’s account. This view is not based on any other work, it
1
Guinevere at Glastonbury. Charles Wood
2
Now when they had extracted this cross from the stone, the aforementioned Abbot Henry showed it to me…
is simply because what Gerald explicitly relates does not rhyme with their
concocted theory. The most important point is that Gerald bears testimony
to the fact that in the Glastonbury annals i.e. DA, Arthur’s resting place was
already known.
3
One can certainly say that Gerald has certainly swallowed
a large part of Henry Blois’ interpolations in DA and the corroborating
pseudo-history found in HRB.
4
Modern scholars’ view assumes that the time lapse (1184-1191) after the
fire to Arthur’s body’s discovery was dictated (predicated) by financial
reasons. The modern view is that as soon as King Henry was dead, the
funds dried up for the rebuild of the burnt church. The presumption is that
Henry de Sully was the instigator of the fraud and therefore the fabricator
of the Leaden cross. Received wisdom holds (with an erroneous a priori in
place) that any mention of Arthur in DA was not interpolated until after his
disinterment.
5
If one were to eliminate this misguided standpoint, one
would have to accept the possibility that Henry Blois could be responsible
for much of the Matter of Britain material. This is scholarships blind spot
and haughty presumption which has squewed every theory on King
Arthur’s presence at Glastonbury. Scholars have chosen to ignore Gerald’s
testimony and the discovery’s connection to Henry II.
Most importantly, Arthurian commentators have omitted to question
why it would be that an interpolator of DA (after the disinterment) has
taken in hand to record where the body was found and not a single other
detail about the unearthing. Luckily for us, Gerald has done so and even
recorded how they knew where to look so that the manufactured
gravecould be be unveiled.
3
Indeed, there had been some evidence from the records that the body might be found there….
4
Gerald Writes: After Albanus and Amphibalus, they were esteemed the chief protomartyrs of Britannia Major.
In ancient times there were three fine churches in this city: one dedicated to Julius the martyr, graced with a
choir of nuns; another to Aaron, his associate, and ennobled with an order of canons; and the third
distinguished as the metropolitan of Wales. Amphibalus, the instructor of Albanus in the true faith, was born in
this place. This city is well situated on the river Usk, navigable to the sea, and adorned with woods and
meadows. The Roman ambassadors here received their audience at the court of the great King Arthur; and here
also, the archbishop Dubricius ceded his honours to David of Menevia, the metropolitan see being translated
from this place to Menevia, according to the prophecy of Merlin Ambrosius; " Menevia pallio urbis Legionum
induetur."Menevia shall be invested with the pall of the city of Legions."
5
There is no description of the disinterment in DA which would only be natural after the dig, if indeed Arthurian
references were a later addition. The presumption is that the description of who is in the grave is derived after the
unearthing. The scholastic community has made a ‘grave’ error.
It is not a coincidence that the man who introduces us to Guinevere in
HRB is the same man who invents the episode of her kidnap at Glastonbury
by impersonating Caradoc and establishing the first connection of Arthur to
Glastonbury…. and then pays to have the same episode engraved on the
Modena Archivolt and eventually Guinevere is lying next to Arthur in
Glastonbury just as he had foreseen in DA and the Perlesvaus colophon. The
fact that they were uncovered in Avalon, the same place that ‘Geoffrey had
alluded to as Insulam Pomorum 35 years earlier; is a remarkable
coincidence without Henry Blois’ design and foresight telling the monks
where to dig.
Surely it is not beyond comprehension that Henry names Guinevere as
being alongside Arthur in DA when he specifies where the grave is located.
Otherwise, Gerald’s account of the lock of hair is entirely fabricated and he
is in cahoots with the interpolator of DA. Are we supposed to believe the
interpolator of DA after the disinterment leaves it all to Gerald to give an
account of Arthur’s disinterment without telling us what happened himself?
Of course not!!!
Modern scholars need to understand that Arthur’s grave was planted by
Henry Blois the instigator of the name Avalon, and that the grave was
nonchalantly alluded to in DA. Several other pertinent pieces of the jig saw
puzzle (nowadays seemingly upheld by scholastic decree), covered by this
investigation would then no longer hold true. Several a prioris crumble,
exposing the scholastic view as a rationalization or erroneous
reconstruction of events rather than accepting certain truths which
consequently fit together.
It is difficult for Watkin when he struggles with his own rationalized
chronology in dealing with Gerald’s ready acceptance of Avalon:
What prompted the search? According to Gerald it was the stories of the
Welsh bards which reached Henry II, who in turn urged the search. Gerald
also speaks of visions and the writing on the pyramids. Ralph adds the story
of the monk. It is certainly likely that the identification of Avalon with
Glastonbury had by then already been made; it is possible the
identification reached the ears of Henry II and that the King suggested the
search. Watkin of course believes that the grave was manufactured by
Henry de Sully. Because of Raleigh Radford’s assessment that the cemetery
was heightened by several feet at the time of St Dunstan, the fact the grave
was found so deep probably gives the best rationalization of how the grave
came to exist in the way it was found. Watkin suggests that the stone (seven
feet down) in Gerald’s report was the stone of an earlier grave covered
over. This is true in that Henry, when looking for Joseph of Arimathea,
came across the lid and then decided on a course of action which involved
fabricating a lead cross, supplying specifically chosen bones and hair and
affixing the cross to the underside of the lid of the grave of the previous
occupant.
Henry must have put the bones he had brought to replicate Arthur and
Guinevere’s relics in a wooden hollowed trunk and left it in the original
grave and replaced the slab with the Leaden cross fixed on the underside.
Watkin’s speculation is that the grave was real (which is half true), but
Henry de Sully adds the finishing touch: the cross, though fraudulent, may
have replaced a grave cross less precise in wording, for to establish that the
grave was certainly that of Arthur the written identification of Glastonbury
with Avalon had to be made. So, are we to believe Watkin’s explanation
involves believing ‘Geoffrey’s’ historicity concerning Arthur having been
taken to Avalon; and that if Avalon really was the ancient name of
Glastonbury, we would find him between the pyramids in the cemetery….
even though we know Malmesbury does not mention Avalon except where
Henry Blois has interpolated his work. Yes, even as Watkin states, it is a big
‘if’.
I have utilised John William Sutton‘s translation in the extracts from
Gerald’s two works.
The Discovery of the Tomb of King Arthur from Liber de Principis
Instructione [On the Instruction of Princes] c. 1193
The memory of Arthur, the celebrated King of the Britons, should not be
concealed. In his age, he was a distinguished patron, generous donor, and a
splendid supporter of the renowned monastery of Glastonbury
6
they praise
him greatly in their annals. Indeed, more than all other churches of his
realm he prized the Glastonbury church of Holy Mary, mother of God, and
sponsored it with greater devotion by far than he did for the rest. When that
6
Gerald’s view of Arthur as a generous donor to Glastonbury comes directly from Henrys interpolations in DA
and from ‘Caradoc’s’ Life of Gildas.
man went forth for war, depicted on the inside part of his shield was the
image of the Blessed Virgin, so that he would always have her before his eyes
in battle, and whenever he found himself in a dangerous encounter he was
accustomed to kiss her feet with the greatest devotion. Although legends had
fabricated something fantastical about his demise (that he had not suffered
death, and was conveyed, as if by a spirit, to a distant place), his body was
discovered at Glastonbury, in our own times, hidden very deep in the earth in
an oak-hollow, between two stone pyramids that were erected long ago in
that holy place. The tomb was sealed up with astonishing tokens, like
some sort of miracle.
7
The body was then conveyed into the church with
honor, and properly committed to a marble tomb.
A lead cross was placed under the stone, not above as is usual in our
times, but instead fastened to the underside.
8
I have seen this cross, and have
traced the engraved letters not visible and facing outward, but rather
turned inwardly toward the stone. It read: "Here lies entombed King Arthur,
with Guenevere his second wife,
9
on the Isle of Avalon."
Many remarkable things come to mind regarding this. For instance, he had
two wives, of whom the last was buried with him. Her bones were discovered
with her husband's, though separated in such a way that two-thirds of the
sepulcher, namely the part nearer the top, was believed to contain the bones
of the husband, and then one-third, toward the bottom, separately contained
the bones of his wife wherein was also discovered a yellow lock of feminine
hair, entirely intact and pristine in color, which a certain monk eagerly seized
in hand and lifted out; immediately the whole thing crumbled to dust.
Indeed, there had been some evidence from the records that the body
might be found there, and some from the lettering carved on the
pyramids (although that was mostly obliterated by excessive antiquity), and
also some that came from the visions and revelations made by good men
and the devout.
7
Gerald is hardly going to be duped by freshly buried remains.
8
Why would Gerald make such a point unless he had witnessed the event. He witnessed the ’Leaden cross’
being found on the underside of the stone and thought it a strange occurrence from his own present tradition.
9
The fact that Gerald at this early stage is saying that Guinevere is Arthur’s second wife shows that already the
question as to why he was buried with a wife who had soiled herself with Mordred was a question of maintaining
Arthur’s reputation. Hence, I believe, all and sundry upholding Arthur’s reputation had made Guinevere his
second wife by the same name. Henry, when he had planted the bodies made it look as if Guinevere was buried
first and then Arthur laid on top.
But the clearest evidence came when King Henry II of England explained
the whole matter to the monks (as he had heard it from an aged British poet):
how they would find the body deep down, namely more than 16 feet into the
earth, and not in a stone tomb but in an oak-hollow. The body had been placed
so deep, and was so well concealed, that it could not be found by the Saxons
who conquered the island after the King's death those whom he had battled
with so much exertion while he was alive, and whom he had nearly
annihilated. And so because of this the lettering on the cross the
confirmation of the truth had been inscribed on the reverse side, turned
toward the stone, so that it would conceal the tomb at that time and yet at
some moment or occasion could ultimately divulge what it contained.
What is now called Glastonbury was, in antiquity, called the Isle of
Avalon; it is like an island because it is entirely hemmed in by swamps. In
British it is called Inis Avallon, that is, insula pomifera [Latin: "The Island
of Apples”]. This is because the apple, which is called aval in the British
tongue, was once abundant in that place. Morgan
10
, a noble matron, mistress
and patroness of those regions, and also King Arthur's kinswoman by blood,
brought Arthur to the island now called Glastonbury for the healing of his
wounds after the Battle of Camlann. Moreover, the island had once been
called in British Inis Gutrin, that is, insula vitrea[Latin:"The Island of
Glass"]; from this name, the invading Saxons afterwards called this place
Glastingeburi, for glas in their language means vitrum [Latin: "glass"], and
buri stands for castrum [Latin:"castle"] or civitas [Latin:"city"].
It should be noted also that the bones of Arthur's body which they
discovered were so large that the poet's verse seems to ring true: "Bones
excavated from tombs are reckoned enormous”. Indeed, his shin-bone, which
the abbot showed to us, was placed near the shin of the tallest man of the
region; then it was fixed to the ground against the man's foot, and it extended
substantially more than three inches above his knee.
11
And the skull was
10
In a battle fought near Kidwelly Castle, Gwenllian's (who I believe inspired ‘Geoffrey’s’ name of Guinevere)
army was routed, she was captured in battle and beheaded by the Normans. In the battle her son Morgan was
also slain and another son, Maelgwyn captured and executed. It is this same Kidwelly at which I believe Henry
might have been present and claims in GS (Lidelea) belongs to himself.
11
This is an eye witness account of the events and obviously Henry Blois had planted the shin bone of an animal.
To remark on the space between the eyebrows one would imagine that Henry was using the skull of a large
primate unseen in Britain before by the spectators of the event.
broad and huge, as if he were a monster or prodigy, to the extent that the
space between the eyebrows and the eye-sockets amply encompassed the
breadth of one's palm. Moreover, ten or more wounds were visible on that
skull, all of which had healed into scars except one, greater than the rest,
which had made a large cleft
12
this seems to have been the lethal one.
When Gerald says they praise him greatly in their annals, the only annals
which put Arthur at Glastonbury are the DA, Life of Gildas and possibly a
lost Perlesvaus or Melkin’s‘De Regis Arthurii mensa rotunda’, all written by
Henry Blois. William in GR1 states he does not know where Arthur is
buried. However, when Henry Blois’s GR3 interpolations were composed
where he nearly ‘omits’ to tell us of Arthur’s grave. no gravesite was yet
manufactured at Glastonbury. Someone in the interim between 1143 and
1193 has been busy. The clearest evidence of where Arthur was and how
deep he was seems to stem from someone who was present at Arthur’s
manufactured interment and who knew Guinevere’s remains would be
there. Henry Blois was a master of propaganda and may well have passed
the information to Henry II or Eleanor in various different ways.
Gerald is emphatic: But the clearest evidence came when King Henry II of
England explained the whole matter to the monks. This is not a confused
statement, but Gerald unequivocally suggests it was King Henry II who told
the monks how deep the grave was. We just need to realize that if Gerald is
not lying (and why would he be), then obviously…. whoever put the bones
in the ground is the same person who knew the information supplied to the
King. One guess at who that might be is the inventor of the Arthur persona
in HRB who puts him wounded at Avalon just where he had put him 35
years earlier in VM.
Until conclusive evidence is put under the noses of scholars and experts
there can be no disinterment of the sepulchre of Joseph and display what it
holds. Unfortunately we live in a backward world where those supposed to
instruct need instruction; and until they understand and they can declare to
the world that what seemed obvious to the rest of us is in fact true, we have
to wait for them to change their opinion. As I have stated before, it is not
until academia recognizes the truth that it can be accepted as the truth.
Thus, my continued and repetitive ode against the ‘experts’. I will of course
12
Again, Gerald is describing a skull which has been prepared by Henry to match events described in HRB
be pilloried for expounding a truth which is not yet established as I have
been already. I write not as one reverse engineering
13
a theoretical
standpoint, but stating a fact that Joseph’s remains are 50ft under the slate
deposit on Burgh Island.
Since Gerald is convinced that King Henry instigated the dig, we can
either assume that it was some dying wish, or it was instigated by those
closest to him after his death or that Adam of Damerham (d. after 1291) or
Ralph of Coggeshall (d.after 1227) got the date wrong which is more likely
than Gerald being mistaken. But this leaves the contention of Henry de
Sully’s election by Richard I and the two month span between Henry II
death and Henry De Sully’s election. Eleanor steeped in Arturiana my well
be the catalyst and the reason for the King’s name associated with the dig.
Gerald is certain of Henry II involvement and states: In our own lifetime,
while Henry II was ruling England. Let us just say that Henry de Sully was
the abbot as Gerald would not make that mistake. So he arrived early
before Henry II died and was installed properly by Richard.Whatever way
you look at this, there will always be a certain amount of conjecture. Gerald
is adamant of the King’s involvement and we should not dismiss the rest of
his witness and defer to accounts and dates arrived at much later.
Gerald says in no uncertain terms however, a year or two after the
discovery that Avalon was the ancient name for Glastonbury, and that the
location of the grave was pointed out before the disinterment. Since the
‘chivalric’ Arthur never existed in history (except in Henry Blois mind) and
yet ‘his bones’ had been fraudulently placed 16 feet down between two
pyramids and that location was already known; even the most sedentary of
minds could assess that Henry Blois (c.1158-71) is culpable of burying an
animal bone,
14
Gorilla skull and lock of blonde hair in a hollow oak tree
trunk at least 20-25 years previously.
Gerald’s description of the lead cross placed under the stone, not above as
is usual in our times, but instead fastened to the underside…. again, is more
13
The analogy would be that of the world finding a space craft on earth and mankind’s attempt to re-engineer or
understand the mechanics and physics of how it arrived on earth. The fact that mankind could not make it fly
again through their lack of knowledge does not preclude it from once having flown from space. But, there will be
those who think it a fraud because they have not seen the craft fly with their own eyes. Others with more
understanding will accept that it must have come from space and recognise that until it flies again there will
always be doubt.
14
Henry Blois’ collection of exotic animals he inherited from Henry I’s hunting lodge at Woodstock.
than anecdotal comment. I have seen this cross, and have traced the
engraved letters not visible and facing outward, but rather turned inwardly
toward the stone. The whole piece would tend to indicate that Gerald was
present as the slab above the hollowed oak was removed as Gerald is
interested by the method of burial. I would say that all the other forms of
what was written on the cross are untrue and Camden’s tracing is based on
a false cross rendition of what was written.
It would hardly seem pertinent to expound upon the events concerning
the monk and the lock of Guinevere’s hair, if the grave site had no
connection with her. It seems pointless regurgitating speculations
concerning the cross and what it had written upon it,
15
but rather state that
if a lock of hair was present (which by the account seems certain), the
contention would be that; why would Arthur be buried with an unfaithful
wife the reason for his downfall? It would suggest that Guinevere has been
expunged from future accounts rather than Gerald (the eyewitness) had
invented her name as being present on the cross.
16
In any case Guinevere
being present cross-references what Henry wrote in DA and the Perlesvaus
colophon. If Henry had not written in DA where they both would be found
then they would not have been found anyway (unless one takes the
scholar’s view) and because we know Henry did write in DA; all the more
reason to believe Gerald!
He repeats the same engraving on the cross in both accounts "Here lies
entombed King Arthur, on the Isle of Avalon, with Guenevere his second wife”.
To my mind I would say Henry Blois is the one rationalising that Guinevere
should be a second wife. One reason may be because he wanted to make
sure that when the grave was discovered two bodies gave double the
15
In my view all later reports have expunged Guinevere so as to respect Arthur’s reputation and virility from
having been cuckolded. Guinevere’s lock existed as Gerald maintains and whoever planted the bones and
manufactured the grave had the non corrosive cross fabricated. The same person who manufactured the grave
knows he has included her name on the cross and added the lock of hair into the grave so he is hardly going to
state otherwise that Guinevere is not in the Grave. So we must look to the testimony in DA which was put there
by Henry Blois. If Henry de Sully is responsible for the bogus grave; to what end does he include a lock of hair
and include her name on the cross? It is more proved that her name (invented by Henry in HRB) was on the
cross as all later renditions have expunged her name. Camdens later representation of the cross must be a
subsequent fake created to expunge Guinevere from lore. If Guinevere is in the same grave it can only be the
Chivalric Arthur of HRB and no other Arthur so maybe this is Henry’s logic for including her.
16
All the following renditions obey the Glastonbury hymn sheet over 40-50 years after Gerald’s eyewitness
account: Ralph of Coggesshall has the inscription as ’Hic Iacet inclitus Rex Arturius in Insula Avallonis
sepultus’. Adam of Damerham gives us:Hic iacet sepultus inclitus rex Arturius in insula Avalonia. John Leland
However, renders it, Hic Iacet sepultus Inclytus rex Arturius in insulis Avallonia.
evidence that this was Arthur as stated on the Leaden cross. I think we are
on safer ground considering that Henry had a reason for making her a
second wife. Gerald made a copy of the wording on the leaden cross; so, to
get it wrong twice seems less likely than future monk’s distancing Arthur
from his wife for her adultery in some puritanical pious washing of
Arthur’s legacy.
To disbelieve Gerald’s testimony, we have to consider why it was that all
the other extraneous detail concerning the hair, the plait, the monk
jumping in the pit etc. was invented.
17
The monks tried to rationalize how it
was that Arthur was buried with a wife who had in fact been the reason for
his downfall by defecting into the arms of Mordred in HRB. (Yet how is it in
anyway rationalized by a second wife if Arthur died and is in the grave). I
think for some good reason Henry Blois put her there. Infinitely more
reasons than a Henry de Sully who has not readthe DA account (according
to scholars) stating that she is buried there with him then Henry de Sully
inventing lore about a second wife!!
If her name was ignored by later chroniclers from what was actually
written on the cross, Guinevere was certainly present for Edward I and
Eleanor of Castille’s visit in 1278. Wood’s theory of Guinevere at
Glastonbury relies on ignoring most of Gerald’s testimony about the
previous cognition of the whereabouts of Arthur’s grave and presumes that
Henry de Sully was the instigator of the fraud. Wood supplies good
reasoning and speculations as to why Henry de Sully might be implicated,
but his theory ignores the existence of an already constructed translocation
of Avalon
18
into Glastonbury which we know is Henry Blois’ invention.
We are sure of this firstly, because Henry is ‘Geoffrey’ the inventor of
Insula Avallonis in HRB and Insula Pomorum in VM; and secondly because
of Gerald’s assertion that Arthur’s burial location was known previously.
Lastly, because we know that Robert de Boron’s Joseph d’Arimathie c.1160-
70 (who has obtained his story from Henry Blois as Blaise) has connected
17
This would not have been invented because of the status afforded to Guinevere’s hair in Chtien’s Lancelot
the Knight and the Cart; rather Chrétien wrote that because Henry had implanted the hair and made a point about
it.
18
The cross really would be an over-ingenuous forgery and the discovery would seem highly dubious and
beyond the bounds of credibility if indeed Avalon had not already been accepted as synonymous with
Glastonbury, established through the propaganda found in DA. How can one name on one leaden cross convince
everybody…. without all the supporting evidence from an extant Glastonbury Perlesvaus and DA and other
possible works written by Henry Blois which may have been referenced before they were burnt in the fire.
the ‘vessel’ through Joseph of Arimathea to Avalon/Avaron in the west; and
then…. it just so happens that Avalon turns out to be Glastonbury as posited
in DA before Arthur was disinterred with his wife.
19
We must also understand that the bones that Henry Blois will have
deposited in the grave were unusually large and the probability is that he
wrote a prophecy or poem (which has not survived into posterity) to the
effect which foresaw the unearthing of the bones: It should be noted also
that the bones of Arthur's body which they discovered were so large that the
poet's verse seems to ring true: "Bones excavated from tombs are reckoned
enormous”. As we know Henry is not averse to writing prophecy and only
he could know that the bones were oversized.
The Discovery of the Tomb of King Arthur from Speculum Ecclesiae
[Mirror of the Church].
Cap. VIII. Regarding the monk who, at the discovery of the tomb of Arthur,
pulled out a lock of women's hair with his hand, and quite shamelessly
accelerated its ruin.
In our own lifetime, while Henry II was ruling England, diligent efforts were
made in Glastonbury Abbey to locate what must have once been the tomb of
Arthur.This was done at the instruction of the King and under the
supervision of the abbot of that place, Henry, who was later transferred to
Worcester Cathedral. With much difficulty the tomb was excavated in the
holy burial-ground which had been dedicated by Saint Dunstan. The tomb
was found between two tall, emblazoned pyramids, erected long ago in
memory of Arthur.
20
Though his body and bones had been reduced to dust,
they were lifted up from below into the air, and to a more seemly place of
burial.
In the same grave there was found a tress of woman's hair, blonde and lovely
19
Do not forget that there is nothing in DA that relates to the events surrounding the exhumation and if Arthur’s
location had been interpolated after the dig, surely events surrounding the dig would have been interpolated also
rather than a later interpolator feigning to omit mention of where the grave was located and who was in it.
20
Gerald’s thought is that these piramides were put there to mark Arthur’s grave and implies, as we saw earlier,
that there might have been some sort of engraving which indicated this. If some engraving concerning Arthur
existed we can only surmise that this also was carried out by Henry possibly obliterating some earlier Saxon
engravings.
to look at, plaited and coiled with consummate skill, and belonging, no doubt,
to Arthur's wife, who was buried there with her husband. [Standing among
the crowd
21
is a monk who sees the lock of hair.] So that he could seize the
lock before all others, he hurled himself headlong into the lowest depths of the
cavity. Then the aforementioned monk, that insolent spectator, no less
impudent than imprudent, descended into the depths the depths symbolize
the infernal realm, which none of us can escape. Thus the monk thought to
pull it out with his hand, to take hold of the lock of hair before all others
evidence of his shameless mind, for women's hair entangles the weak-willed,
while strong souls avoid it. Hair, of course, is said to be incorruptible, for it
has no flesh in it, nor any moisture mixed with it. Nevertheless, as he held it in
his hand, having raised it up in order to inspect it (many watched intently
and in amazement), it crumbled into the thinnest dust; miraculously it
disintegrated, as if reduced to granules. [There are a few words in the
manuscript missing here.] For it demonstrated that all things are transitory,
and all worldly beauty is for our vain eyes to gaze upon, for performing illicit
sensual acts, or for our moments that are susceptible to vanity indeed, as
the philosopher said, "the splendor of beauty is swift, passing, changeable,
and more fleeting than the flowers of spring.
Cap. IX.
Regarding the bones lying intact in the tomb of King Arthur, discovered at
Glastonbury in our times, and about the many things relating to these
remarkable circumstances.
Furthermore, tales are regularly reported and fabricated about King Arthur
and his uncertain end, with the British peoples even now contending foolishly
that he is still alive. True and accurate information has been sought out, so
21
Again, Gerald is saying as an eyewitness amongst the crowd that a monk jumped into the grave. It is unlikely
that such an anecdote would be recounted twice by Gerald unless he had actually been present at the event and
the memory of the monk’s actions he found distasteful or dis-respectful. The fact that the hair was plaited also is
an anecdotal eyewitness detail not significant except to someone who actually saw the lock of hair before: it
crumbled into the thinnest dust; miraculously it disintegrated, as if reduced to granules..
the legends have finally been extinguished; the truth about this matter should
be revealed plainly, so here I have endeavoured to add something to the
indisputable facts that have been disclosed.
After the Battle of Camlann . . . [A number of words are missing in the
manuscript.] And so, after Arthur had been mortally wounded there, his body
was taken to the Isle of Avalon, which is now called Glastonbury, by a noble
matron and kinswoman named Morgan; afterwards the remains were buried,
according to her direction, in the holy burial-ground.
22
As a result of this, the
Britons and their poets have been concocting legends that a certain fantastic
goddess, also called Morgan, carried off the body of Arthur to the Isle of
Avalon for the healing of his wounds. When his wounds have healed, the
strong and powerful King will return to rule the Britons (or so the Britons
suppose), as he did before. Thus they still await him, just as the Jews, deceived
by even greater stupidity, misfortune, and faithlessness, likewise await their
Messiah.
It is significant . . . [Two sentences or so are damaged in the manuscript]
Truly it is called Avalon, either from the British word aval, which means
pomum because apples and apple trees abound in that place; or, from the
name Vallo, once the ruler of that territory. Likewise, long ago the place was
usually called in British Inis Gutrin, that is, insula vitrea[Latin: "The Island of
Glass"],evidently on account of the river, most like glass in color, that flows
around the marshes. Because of this, it was later called Glastonia in the
language of the Saxons who seized this land, since glas in English or in Saxon
means vitrum[Latin: "glass"]. It is clear from this, therefore, why it was called
an island, why it was called Avalon, and why it was called Glastonia; it is also
clear how the fantastic goddess Morgan was contrived by poets.
It is also notable that . . . [Several words are missing, obscuring the
meaning of the first part of the sentence.] from the letters inscribed on it, yet
nearly all, however, was destroyed by antiquity. The abbot had the best
22
Gerald is giving us the answer to the contemporary question as to who buried Arthur and the rationalisation
seems to have come up with Morgan from the VM.
evidence from the aforementioned King Henry, for the King had said many
times, as he had heard from the historical tales of the Britons and
from their poets, that Arthur was buried between two pyramids that
were erected in the holy burial-ground.
23
These were very deep, on account
of the Saxons (whom he had subdued often and expelled from the Island of
Britain, and whom his evil nephew Mordred had later called back against
him), who endeavoured to occupy the whole island again after his death; so
their fear was that Saxons might despoil him in death through the wickedness
of their vengeful spirit.
A broad stone was unearthed during the excavating at the tomb, about
seven feet . . . [A couple of words are missing]a lead cross was fastened not
to the outer part of the stone, but rather to the underside (no doubt as a result
of their fears about the Saxons). It had these words inscribed on it: "Here lies
entombed King Arthur, on the Isle of Avalon, with Guenevere his second
wife."
24
Now when they had extracted this cross from the stone, the
aforementioned Abbot Henry showed it to me; I examined it, and read
the words.
25
The cross was fastened to the underside of the stone, and,
moreover, the engraved part of the cross was turned toward the stone, so that
it would be better concealed. Remarkable indeed was the industry and
exquisite prudence of the men of that era, who, by all their exertions, wished
to hide forever the body of so great a man, their lord, and the patron of that
region, from the danger of sudden disturbance. Moreover, they took care that
at some time in the future when their tribulations had ceased the
evidence of the letters inscribed on the cross could be made public.
23
As we have previously covered, Gerald was very closely connected to Henry II, so to imply that the King had
spoken on many occasions of the location of Arthur’s burial would lead us to believe that he had been informed
of the depth and location by the person who had planted it and had knowledge of its whereabouts.
24
Gerald is not uncertain about what he saw on the cross twenty five years after the unearthing. The insistence of
modern scholars that the version which excludes Guinevere is the correct version is largely based on the
assumption that what is written in DA about Guinevere being present in the grave is a late interpolation after the
disinterment. There is nothing to eliminate Camden’s representation of the cross as fraudulent either.
25
In other words, modern scholars presenting their own corrupted version of events, dismissing his version, by
implication call Gerald a liar.
Cap. X.
The renowned King Arthur was a patron of Glastonbury Abbey.[Enough
words are missing that the rest of this chapter heading is indecipherable.]
[The beginning of the sentence is lost.] . . . had proposed, thus Arthur's
body was discovered not in a marble tomb, not cut from rock or Parian stone,
as was fitting for so distinguished a King, but rather in wood, in oak that was
hollowed out for this purpose, and 16 feet or more deep in the earth; this was
certainly on account of haste rather than proper ceremony for the burial of so
great a prince, driven as they were by a time of urgent distress. When the
body was discovered according to the directions indicated by King
Henry
26
, the aforementioned abbot had an extraordinary marble tomb made
for the remains, as was fitting for an excellent patron of that place, for indeed,
he had prized that church more than all the rest in his Kingdom, and had
enriched it with large and numerous lands. And for that reason it was not
undeserved, but just and by the judgment of God, who rewards all good deeds
not only in heaven, but also on earth and in this life. [The end of the
manuscript is very defective.] . . and the authentic
27
body of Arthur . . . to be
buried properly . . .
There are logical contradictions concerning the bones and the ‘dust of
bones’, but it was a bogus grave site probably of mixed bones from an
earlier grave. Henry the consummate saint collector had probably seen
Saxon graves made from tree trunks. From the description it seems that
Henry had used an old tomb lid and buried it seven foot down as the locator
of the grave. Under this he attached a fabricated cross with said inscription
faced the engraving against the stone so it would not get soiled or filled with
mud and laid the gorilla skull and shin bone alongside some old previous
bones with a lock of hair.
26
The reason scholars are so insistent upon denying that Henry II had any bearing on the event concerning the
disinterment is because it fits much more neatly with their view that the unearthing and the bogus relics and
cross were all staged by Henry de Sully. Since Gerald himself does not give a date for the disinterment it is more
likely that the grave was dug up on the information supplied by the King who had been informed through the
machinations of Henry Blois and it was Henry de Sully who carried out the act just after the King had died or
not???.
27
Words like this show that there was suspicion and therefore all the more reason to find Gerald’s account
genuine as the grave site had remained undisturbed for probably thirty years since Henry planted it and would
seem all the more ‘authentic’.
Against all the uncertainties surrounding exactly what was written on
the cross, at least Arthur’s name indicating the grave was his and more
dubiously (by providence of where the find took place) that Glastonbury
was named Avalon. This is not in contention in the varying accounts. From
this moment onwards for all and sundry it was made plain Glastonbury
must have been known as Avalon in Arthur’s day and part of Henry Blois
Matter of Britain was established as history. The cross was attached to the
underside of the old tomb lid and underneath that there was the
appearance of a seemingly Briton tomb at 16 feet deep. Henry had probably
dug it this deep searching for Joseph assuming the pyramids were a sign
(from the east) of something under them. These were small step pyramids
not like any other in the cemetery.
The depth could only have been indicated to King Henry by Henry Blois
(as only he knew the depth) and the King had most probably been informed
of the rationalized reasoning behind the depth of the grave i.e. because of
the fear of Saxon interference. This however, might have been Gerald’s or
the monk’s rationalized observation. But, Gerald’s mention of Guinevere is
because Henry Blois has planted the lock of hair; not because Gerald is
making up an anecdotal account to coincide with Grail literature.
One of modern scholars’ biggest mistakes is to assume that the
Perlesvaus (even though in the elucidation it originates fromMaistre Blihis
Master Blihos or H. Blois) was written by some other than Henry Blois. This
is especially more neglectful in consideration that the author is acquainted
with Glastonbury. Scholars’ blind spot is largely based on the dating of the
Perlesvaus because its mention of Arthur’s and Guinevere’s burial place in
Avalon to them could not be written before 1189.
I hope the reader appreciates the person who planted the grave and
who located it between the piramides to be found in the future; and
indicated the location in DA is the same as the person relating to Arthur’s
burial in Perlesvaus.
28
Now, as this relates to Gerald’s referring Guinevere
and her name being on the cross, it is probably not from Perlesvaus
29
but
from DA which it is obvious he has read. Witnessing the lock of hair Gerald
28
Perlesvaus: But or ever the King departed he made the head be brought into the isle of Avalon, to a chapel of
Our Lady that was there.
29
Perlesvaus: But the queen bade at her death that his (Arthur’s) body should be set beside her own when he
shall end.
would instantly associate it with Guinevere by what was written in DA and
by what was written on the cross.
Scholastic logic assumes that mention of Guinevere is derived from
Romance literature. This contrived viewpoint is now nullified, as both
Perlesvaus and the interpolations in DA are written by the same person
prior to her bogus relics disinterment.
We should not believe Gerald is concocting the entire account about the
monk grasping the lock of hair. Scholars have tended to believe the version
of words on the epitaph of the cross which omit Guinevere fraudulently
made to expunge Guinevere. Basically, by omitting the only eyewitness
account as having no reliability to the transpiration of events; scholars have
been able to complete the puzzle face down without anyone aware of the
picture how events really transpired. To what end? We should also not
forget the chronology of Giraldus Cambrensis’ Bledhericus who asserts
the‘famosus ille fabulator’ who had lived "shortly before our time" i.e. 18
years before the unearthing and Gerald’s eye witness account. It is fairly
obvious this is our Master Blihis and Gerald not only has been unknowingly
primed by Henry in Arthurian lore but is writing just after his death.
Gerald has read DA, but he has no incentive to concur with it by
mentioning Joseph or any other fabricated lore found within it (which is the
common argument put forward by scholars as a proof Joseph was not an
early inclusion found in DA). There is no reason for Gerald writing diligent
efforts were made in Glastonbury Abbey to locate what must have once been
the tomb of Arthur. This was done at the instruction of the King- unless it was
true. We simply do not know the amount of ground between the two
piramides and what efforts were made.
It would seem to indicate by the words: In our own lifetime, while Henry
II was ruling England that Gerald links the events to King Henry.
Gerald wrote: The tomb was found between two tall, emblazoned
pyramids, erected long ago in memory of Arthur, because he believed the
pyramids were erected as a marker. Aelred Watkin remarks: the question
remains; why dig in that spot.
30
In Ralph of Coggeshall’s Chronicon Anglicanum, a history of England
covering the years 1187 to 1224, Ralph avers that the monks were digging
30
Aelred Watkin. The Glastonbury legends. Here at least is one commentator questioning logically.
because of the desire of another monk to be buried in that particular spot in
the cemetery. This could of course be Ralph’s own rationalisation having
not heard of the events which brought about the disinterment. More likely
though, it was the response which Glastonbury gave when suspicion was
cast on their escapade in an attempt to make the event seem more random
and less contrived. Henry de Sully was probably just as shocked as
everybody else that the rumours turned out to be true and a grave of King
Arthur was found.
Adam of Damerham’s account, writing after 1277, is relatively
inconsequential compared to Giraldus and states that Henry de Sully had
been urged to move Arthur’s body to a better resting place. So this also
might be a catalyst for the disinterment in organising the building project
and altar of the new build. Arthur’s presence at the alar may just be a
consequence of the disinterment, thereafter finding a more sanctified
location.
By William of Malmesbury’s account the piramides were marked with
Saxon names (excepting possibly the interpolated Bregored).
31
Henry
needed an uneqivocal marker for the grave. In the future the edifice of the
two piramides would mark the spot inbetween for the confirmation of his
pseudo-history built around his own alter-ego Arthur. Arthur would live
forever in history by the very man who wrote the colourful account of
British history. The chivalric Arthur needed to be substantiated from
hearsay and myth into reality. The cleverness of Henry’s plan was the
fabrication of a tomb and devising a plan for the discovery of the body after
he was dead,along with the factsthat he had covered ‘Geoffrey’ and Master
Blihis from being exposed in his lifetime. This was achieved by the
indoctrination of King Henry and the whole concept was inspired by the
prophecy of Melkin. It may be also that Henry Blois had also altered some
markings on the pyramid.
The discovery of the tomb conveniently fulfils Arthurian lore in HRB and
VM. The whole edifice initiated by Henry Blois, on the ruse that through
‘Geoffrey of Monmouth’ who had obtained archaic information (the
contents of HRB) from Walter’s book, now became historically evidenced
and then became a confirmed certainty for Gerald once the tomb of Arthur
31
Bregored was pre- West Saxon as in the 601 charter.
was opened up: True and accurate information has been sought out, so the
legends have finally been extinguished
The real question is who, (considering all we have covered previously),
could be responsible for implicating Avalon as Glastonbury except Henry
Blois. Aelred Watkin realizes that the leaden cross alone would not, by
itself, be enough to carry off a fraud by Henry de Sully. Watkin says: It is
certainly likely that the identification of Avalon with Glastonbury had by then
already been made; it is possible that this identification reached the ears of
Henry II and that the King suggested the search. Henry Blois in DA and
verbally in some way instilled this intrigue into King Henry and we may
speculate that on Henry Blois’ deathbed Henry Blois passed the location on
to King Henry.
32
We should not forget either the Glastonbury Perlesvaus
also pointed to the existence of Avalon at Glastonbury and the grave of
Arthur and Guinevere before the disinterment. It must have been before
the unearthing of Arthur’s grave because Henry Blois is responsible for the
original Perlesvaus story.
When we consider the similarities we have with the discovery of the
Holy Cross at Montacute and Henry’s involvement with that propaganda
stunt as Dean of Waltham while he was searching for Joseph of Arimathea
at Montacute hill. it seems nearly all the evidence points to Henry Blois as
to the reason Arthur was found where he was.
32
Carley. The chronicle of Glastonbury abbey. Carley suggests the unearthing of Arthur was probably Henry II
idea and enquires: Why Henry would have suggested Glastonbury as the scene of Arthur’s discovery is more
difficult to determine. P. xlix. Perhaps if there was not such a rigid insistence that anything Arthurian in DA
could not have been interpolated until after the excavation, he might find his answer. The fact that the abbot of
Glastonbury was the author of HRB is the determining factor. At least this would not suggest that King Henry is
the instigator of the leaden cross and thus a promoter of the understanding that Avalon was synonymous with
Glastonbury. To rationalise Carley’s last proposition, he must therefore explain how Avalon became Avalon
because his contemporary modern scholars are of the opinion that Avalon only became known as Avalon after
the discovery of Arthur. He therefore suggests randomly in relation to his proposition about Henry II: It is
possible that he had in fact heard legends about Glastonbury’s being Avalon from Breton conteurs. This of
course neatly dovetails with his supposition that: At some point in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century
Joseph of Arimathea became associated with the court of King Arthur through the introduction of his name in
the old French Grail Romances. If Lagorio had not got it wrong and taught Carley to believe an incorrect a
priori concerning a provenance from French Grail Romances in regard to Avalon; and if Crick had done what
she professes to be an expert at, in elucidating who Geoffrey of Monmouth really was, Carley would understand
the relation between Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea and at last we could move on to understand that Master
Blehis is Henry Blois…. the primordial instigator of French Grail Romances. Presumably Loomis and Carley are
in cahoots in believing Avalon is invented by a Breton conteur, but this theory has little relevance and is
basically predicated upon what Marie of France says of the provenance of her material.
By the time we get to 1420AD we can see in the Biblioteca Apostolica a
finalised squared up version of what was initially started by Henry Blois.
The illusion is complete, yet the whole edifice of Glastonbury myth still
relies on Melkin.
Abbot John Chinnock was succeeded by Lord Nicholas Frome who was
elected abbot of Glastonbury in 1420-1456 in the reign of King Henry V. The
King ordered abbot Frome to inform him in writing about the excavation in
the cemetery of Glastonbury Abbey which had taken place in 1419 while he
was absent in Normandy and Henry V wished to be appraised of what
transpired and why the dig took place. Below we witness the response of
Lord Nicholas Frome answering the order from King Henry V to inform him
of the excavation:
Most illustrious and dreaded lord, according to the antiquity of your
monastery at Glastonbury, which was first called Yniswitrin and afterwards
the Vale of Avalon, the apostle St Philip, who was preaching in France, sent 12
of his apostles into Britain, and he appointed his dearest friend Joseph of
Arimathea to lead them. They came into Britain in A.D. 63 the 15th year after
the assumption of the Blessed Mary, and courageously began to preach the
Christian faith. A King named Arviragus reigned in Britain at that time, who
did not wish to change the traditions of his forefathers for better ways, and
rejected their preaching. Nevertheless because they had come from afar, he
gave them as a habitation an island called by the natives Inyswitrin. Later to
other Kings, although pagans themselves, granted to each of them a portion
of land, in this way the 12 hides are named for them up to present times.
Also most Serene Prince, in the aforesaid year Joseph of Arimathea built
with his disciples a chapel containing a statue of St Mary in the place where
the old church of Glastonbury is now situated, making the walls of twisted
wattle. Whence from ancient times it has been called the wattle Church.
Indeed all those buried there from of old, have with them twigs in their tombs,
namely one according to the length of the body, the other in a cross direction
under the feet, just as it is most clearly apparent to the Observer.
Also most excellent Lord, as for the death and burial of St Joseph, the
‘Antiquities of Glastonbury’ informs us concerning the prophecy of Melkin
who was before Merlin. The Isle of Avalon, eager for the burial of pagans, at
the burial of them all will be decorated beyond others in the world with the
soothsaying spheres of prophecy, and in the future will be adorned with those
who praise the most high. Abbadare, powerful in Saphat, the most noble of
pagans, took his sleep there with 104,000. Among them Joseph ‘De Marmore’,
named from Arimathea, took perpetual sleep and lies in ‘linea bifurcata’, next
to the southern corner of the oratory with prepared wattle, above the
powerful and venerable virgin, the aforesaid twelve sperulated ones,
inhabiting the place.
Also most dreaded lord, concerning St Phagan and St Deruvian, who were
sent by Pope Eleutherius to baptise King, and how they came to Glastonbury.
St Patrick the apostle of Ireland and first Abbot of Glastonbury wrote thus in
his charter: I Patrick a humble servant of God, sent by the most holy Pope
Celestine to Ireland in A.D. 425, converted the Irish by the grace of God to the
way of truth. And when I had made them firm in the Catholic faith, I returned
at last to Britain and as I believe with God leading me, who is the life and the
way. I happened upon the island of Inyswitrin. There I found a holy and
ancient place, chosen and sanctified by God in honour of the undefiled Virgin
Mary, the mother of God, and there I encountered some brothers, instructed
in the rudiments of the Catholic faith and pious in their lives, who has
succeeded the disciples of St Phagan and St Deruvian, whose names I truly
believe to be written in heaven for the merits of their lives. As they were noble
of birth and wish to crown their nobility with works of faith, they decided to
lead the hermetic life. Since I found them to be humble and tranquil, I
preferred to be cast out with them, then to live in the court of King's. And
because we were all of one heart and one soul, we elected to live together
sharing our food and drink and sleeping in the same house. And although I
was unwilling, for I was not worthy to one loose to buckles of their shoes, they
set me at their head. After we had been leading the monastic life in this way
according to the rule of the approved fathers, the aforesaid brothers showed
me the writings of St Phagan and St Deruvian, which asserted that 12
disciples of St Philip and St James had built the old church in honour of our
aforesaid advocate the Virgin’.
Also most illustrious prince, concerning the remains discovered at
Glastonbury in the seventh year of your most gracious rule and power. In the
south side of the cemetery of the old church were discovered three ancient
coffins in the Earth, at a depth of about 14 feet. The coffin which lay in the
northern part contains the bones of a decayed and perished man, the bones
arranged according to the manner of death. Near the bones of the head there
was an abundance in grains of green and sweet scented herbs with their
seeds. In the coffin which lay in the middle there were contained the bones of
12 corpses, which was so ingeniously and so finally arranged within the
casket, that after their extraction, indeed nobody there knew how to arrange
them again in the aforesaid casket. In the third coffin which lay to the south
there were bones of a decayed and perished individual lying in the manner of
nature and away from the middle of the aforesaid corpse, towards the head a
great abundance of fluid which appeared as fresh blood to those present in
that place, both by its colour and substance. All these coffins were found
outside the chapel. Within the chapel however, under the southern corner of
the altar another coffin was found with the bones of a decayed man. This
coffin was adorned most excellently beyond the others, with linen cloth inside
all over. And because it excelled all the others in delicacy of scent and
eminence of place, it was enclosed in another large coffin until clear run
notice of it will be able to be had in the future. Also most feared prince, in the
fourth book, 10th chapter of De Regis Britonum where he speaks about
King Arviragus, Geoffrey says the last: ‘Joseph of Arimathea came at
that time into the island of Avalon or Glastonbury with his 11 disciples’.
Concerning this a certain scribe writes in praise of their coming: The
twelvefold band of men enters Avalon, Joseph flower of Arimathea, is their
chief. Josephes, Joseph's son, accompanies his father. The right to Glastonbury
is held by these and 10 others.
It just seems extraordinary that ‘Geoffrey’ is seen to have introduced the
story of Joseph of Arimathea’s arrival into HRB. No doubt Carley et al. will
say that must be coincidence or later interpolation. Adam of Damerham
specifically states that Henry Blois gave that book to Glastonbury. If only the
modern era could get its hands upon Lord Nicholas Frome’s copy (or Henry
Bloislast redaction) of HRB. It is not as if Frome is uncertain about which
chapter, or to which book, or to which author he is referencing.
Again, concerning this unearthing incident referred to by King Henry V,
we have yet further scholastic speculations from Carley which only muddy
the waters. Carley offers evidence of the interest demonstrated by monks of
Glastonbury in finding Joseph of Arimathea’s burial site. Then he speculates
that only King Henry V death in 1422 prevented the revelation of this
astonishing ‘discovery’.
33
It needs to be stated that Joseph of Arimathea was
never buried at Glastonbury and any myth which avers such a position is as
a direct consequence of the actions, oral transmission and written words of
Henry Blois.
However it is plain to see by the account above, that since Henry Blois
death, the officine de faux had been busy. It is not by accident that lore had
been created around a great abundance of fluid which appeared as fresh
blood found in a coffin and another covered in white linen that excelled all
others. It would not take much to assume this was attributed to Joseph.
So, while on the subject of Gerald’s work, it might be helpful to go
through the evidence piece by piece in detail as we did with DA and GR so
that what Gerald is actually saying is not ignored. Modern scholar’s
scepticism is largely based on two factors: the epitaph on the cross they
choose to believe omits Guinevere and does not match Gerald’s rendition
and King Henry was dead when Henry de Sully was elected to Glastonbury.
The Discovery of the Tomb of King Arthur from Liber de Principis
Instructione (On the Instruction of Princes) c. 1192-3
1) The memory of Arthur, the celebrated King of the Britons, should not be
concealed. This first sentence establishes that Gerald is a promoter of
Arthur. Richard Barber
34
like every other historian does not understand the
existence of Henry Blois’ propaganda at Glastonbury and says of Gerald:
The passage is introduced by a celebration of Arthur as patron of
Glastonbury, which is not borne out by any material that can be safely dated
to before the discovery. He also does not believe Gerald is an eyewitness: If
Gerald had actually watched the excavation in progress, he would surely have
said as much. Gerald gives an account of how it happened with detail which
is contradictory to all others after him which indicates to me his version of
what is written on the cross is more believable. He even mentions the
crowd at the scene. Every subsequent account to Gerald is singing from the
33
Culture and the King. Martin Schictman, James Carley.
34
Richard Barber. Was Mordred buried at Glastonbury?
same hymn sheet excluding/omitting the presence of Guinevere in the
grave. We should not be ignoring the fact that Gerald says, not only was she
in the Grave, but her name was written on the cross.
If her remains were not in the grave, how did King Edward later witness
her relics. Funnily enough Barber concludes: Finding this did not correspond
with current ideas as to Arthur’s death they hastily revised their original
account and a new version was presented to visitors within a few years of the
original excavation. The real events transpired exactly as Gerald explains.
Henry Blois had planted two sets of bones (and a plait of female hair) and
that is what was found. That some bones were dust only confirms the use of
a previous grave. Only shortly afterward did Glastonbury change the story
for the protection of Arthurs honour by excluding Guinevere.
35
Henry Blois
had buried both to establish his completely fictitious tale of Guinevere and
Arthur and this concurs with what was written in Perlesvaus and DA prior
to the unearthing. Henry Blois’ intention was to establish Avalon and
corroborate his concoctions in HRB. It may be Henry Blois’ own apologia in
presenting Guinevere as the second wife. There is no confusion in
Giraldus’s mind uxore secunda meant second wife. What we can conclude
therefore from this is that the cross which Camden replicates is a forgery
after the disinterment, where the monks agreed to exclude Guinevere.
Herein may lie the answer to so many versions until a new cross is
fabricated which concurs with the Glastonbury hymn sheet. How we can be
sure of this is by the presence of Guinevere at Edward I and Eleanor of
Castille’s visit in 1278 i.e. the bodies of both were transferred into the new
building and then a new epitaph was written.
35
HRB X, xiii. Mordred, unto whom he had committed the charge of Britain, had tyrannously and traitorously
set the crown of the kingdom upon his own head, and had linked him in unhallowed union with Guenevere the
Queen despite her former marriage. Charles Wood is led astray by not understanding that all Grail material on
the continent was initiated by Henry Blois: unfortunately for the monks and their plans, however, even though
Chrétien’s tale of compelling adultery appears to have been written in the early to mid 1170s, nothing suggests
that knowledge of it had spread very quickly or, more to the point, that it had taken hold in England by 1191.
Wood ignores Giraldus, yet seems to think the monks decided to include Guinevere in their find but in fact the
opposite was true because of Guinevere’s adultery. They had initially tried to expunge her from the records but
had no option to accept she was real as she was in the coffin and translated with Arthur into the new church and
not able to be expunged. The proof is that in 1278 she was present again. As the Glastonbury propaganda mill
had turned in an effort to eradicate her from Glastonbury lore there was still the early record of Gerald which he
reconfirmed unequivocally later on. It is for this reason we find the second exhumation to clarify the discrepancy
once and for all. It is because of this second exhumation and the presence of Guinevere we can understand that
once the tomb was sealed it remained untouched even though the myth had evolved outside the tomb. When it
was opened the second time while Adam was there, we find that Gerald’s record is in fact true.
Now, regarding modern scholar’s dismissal of Gerald and his account in
which Guinevere’s name is said to have existed on the cross, we should take
into account the fact that Guinevere was in evidence in 1278. If we look at
Adam’s account, he also mirrors what Gerald has said and does not deny
Guinevere is present. Yet Adam holds with the more recent wording on the
cross which has the shortened epitaph; which, in effect, had tried to get
over Gerald’s insistence that the cross had stated uxore secunda and that
Arthur had been buried with a defiled wife. Adam of Damerham (more
than sixty years after the fact) writes: The diggers had almost lost hope, so
deep had they dug, when they found a wooden coffin of enormous size, with a
lid. They raised it and opened it and found the Kings bones. They were of
incredible size, the shin bone alone reached from the ground to the thigh of a
tall man. They found also a leaden cross with the inscription on one side: Here
lies the great King Arthur, buried in the Isle of Avalon.
Then they opened the tomb of the Queen who was buried with Arthur and
found a lovely lock of golden hair, elaborately plaited, but as they touched it,
it fell to dust. And so the abbot and the monks took up their relics and carried
them with joy into the great Church, and laid them in a nobly worked double
mausoleum, the king to the West at the head of the tomb and the queen at his
feet to the East. And there they lie in splendour to this day with the following
epitaph on their tomb: Here lies King Arthur, the flower of chivalry, famous
for all time for his noble deeds. Here also lies his queen, whose virtues merited
a heavenly crown.
We can see then by Adam of Damerham’s account that he has no
problem with Guinevere being present; her name is omitted from the cross
just as it is in Ralph’s and the anonymous Margam chronicler’s account.
Since Gerald repeats the same about Guinevere being Arthur’s second wife
in the later Speculum Ecclesiae and we now understand that it was Henry
Blois who had the initial cross fabricated, I see no reason to disbelieve
Gerald. The later rendition of the cross was to expunge the adulterer
Guinevere.
2) In his age, he was a distinguished patron, generous donor, and a
splendid supporter of the renowned monastery of Glastonbury. Thisis either
based on the allusions in Caradoc’s life of Gildas where it is said that the
two Kings gave to the abbot a gift of many domains’. Logically, if Henry Blois
wrote HRB and Life of Gildas and invented Avalon and propagandized it as
synonymous with Glastonbury; it is hardly surprising that Gerald is
implying an already established association before the disinterment.
Especially, this is true because Henry had already written Perlesvaus. The
Perlesvaus as we have mentioned before is excluded as having been written
prior to the unearthing, purely because scholars have contrived to piece
together the puzzle of events at Glastonbury and have deemed it impossible
that Guinevere could be mentioned in the colophon. They have therefore
decreed Perlesvaus is of a date following the exhumation of Arthur. Yet
Gerald is saying Guinevere is in the grave with Arthur not only because he
has witnessed her exhumation but also it is stated that she is there in DA
prior to the dig…. and the Perlesvaus colophon had also pointed they were
buried in Avalon.
3) they praise him greatly in their annals. These annals must exist at the
time of Gerald writing. We know one is DA, another, Perlesvaus, another De
Regis Arthurii mensa rotunda which can only be a Blois invention, (albeit
under the name Melkin), which, in itself, indicates an association of Melkin
with Henry Blois long before John of Glastonbury writes. All of these tracts
along with Life of Gildas were written by Henry Blois. These are the annals
to which Gerald refers.
4) Indeed, more than all other churches of his realm he prized the
Glastonbury church of Holy Mary, mother of God, and sponsored it with
greater devotion by far than he did for the rest. When that man went forth for
war, depicted on the inside part of his shield was the image of the Blessed
Virgin, so that he would always have her before his eyes in battle, and
whenever he found himself in a dangerous encounter he was accustomed to
kiss her feet with the greatest devotion.
That Arthur sponsored Glastonbury is highlighted in Life of Gildas and
JG
36
where we have the king of Dumnonia interacting with Arthur about
36
The reason for thinking this a Blois fabrication initially is that John of Glastonbury in chap 16 says: The
glorious King Arthur gave Brent Marsh and Polden along with many other lands located in the neighbourhood.
Thus a King by the name of Domp restored five hides in that land which is called Ineswitrin. It seems fairly clear
that John who is more consolidator than fabricator must have obtained the knowledge from one of Henrys
works now lost. The other reason for positing this is that where Malmesbury had originally said the flourit on the
five hides on Ineswitrin which could only be Henry’s touch that Gerald may
refer to.
In the Annales Cambriae inYear 72 (c. AD 516) at the Battle of Badon in
which Arthur carried the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ on his shoulders for
three days and three nights and the Britons were victors …. is the source of
the conflation. It is mirrored also by a passage in Nennius where Arthur
was said to have borne the image of the Virgin Mary on his shoulders
during a battle at a castle called Guinnion.
37
Scholars seem to think that the
words for "shoulder" and "shield" were easily confused in old Welsh; scuit
"shield" instead of scuid "shoulder". But this seems more like Henry Blois,
writing as Geoffrey played upon this dual tradition, describing Arthur
bearing "on his shoulders a shield" emblazoned with the Virgin to become
its latest expanded form which Gerald has obviously read before 1192….
which connects Arthur’s acts directly to Glastonbury and its St Mary
Church.
5) Although legends had fabricated something fantastical about his demise
(that he had not suffered death, and was conveyed, as if by a spirit, to a
distant place). The ‘hope of the Britons’ as part of the zeitgeist is evident, but
until Henry had named Avalon in the First Variant as the place Arthur was
last seen…. there was no previous locus for Arthur. He just existed in the
netherworld to return one day. The Vulgate maintained the anonymous
location also like First Variant i.e. we had no idea of Avalon’s location.
However, we are left in no doubt in VM post 1155 that Avalon was also
commensurate with Insula Pomorum as Arthur is taken there; just like he is
taken in Vulgate and First Variant to Insula Avallonis. It leaves us in little
doubt that the island of Apples is Glastonbury because Henry Blois has
spelled it out for us in his etymological contortion in DA. What Gerald is
conveying is that at one time no-one knew for certain where Arthur was but
now:
6) his body was discovered at Glastonbury, in our own times, hidden very
deep in the earth in an oak-hollow, between two stone pyramids that were
601 charter was illegible…. we now have a name of the King of Devon; a certain dubious sounding Domp of
Dumnonia.
37
"The eighth battle was in Guinnion fort, and in it Arthur carried the image of the holy Mary, the everlasting
Virgin, on his shield, and the heathen were put to flight on that day, and there was great slaughter upon them,
through the power of Jesus Christ and the power of the holy Virgin Mary, his mother."
erected long ago in that holy place. The tomb was sealed up with astonishing
tokens, like some sort of miracle. There is no doubt that Gerald is convinced
the grave is genuine. There is no doubt that if Arthur really was in a
hollowed out oak that it certainly would have rotted in the six centuries
since he was supposedly buried. We can speculate that Henry had put the
bones so deep because he genuinely had dug between the pyramids
thinking that Joseph might be buried beneath them. Even though Henry did
not know where Ineswitrin was…. there could have been a good chance of
Joseph’s body being by the two most prominent structures in the cemetery.
I would suggest his reason for digging originally was that he thought they
marked Joseph’s grave. We should consider that Henry who saw the 601
charter may have thought Joseph was buried at Glastonbury as both the
Melkin prophecy and the 601 charter (both mentioning Ineswitrin) were
both discovered in the archives at Glastonbury. This is one scenario, but
Henry Blois might also have dug deep to avoid suspicion when the grave
was found, in that it would have been suspected to have been uncovered in
the natural course of events in burials over the last six hundred years. A
change in level of the cemetery in Dunstan’s era could also be the
explanation of how a tomb lid was found so deep. For whatever reason lies
behind Henry Blois having buried the body at such great depth, Gerald does
not seem suspicious of the tomb…. which would indicate it has been
dormant some 30 years. I think we can dismiss the curtains recounted by
Adam, as Gerald does not mention them. We could presume Adam is
confused with the (De Inventione) Montacute dig writing 60 years after the
Arthur disinterment and over a hundred and thirty years since the search
for Joseph on Montacute hill
38
which eventuated the composition of De
Inventione.
7) The body was then conveyed into the church with honor, and properly
committed to a marble tomb. Gerald goes on to tell us of the first translation
into the new building. This more sanctified location was later to be
exhumed by Edward I and Eleanor of Castille. Adam says they were put in a
38
After Henry’s search at Montacute, Looe Island was appropriated by Glastonbury in Henry Blois’ tenure as
abbot in 1144 because Henry knew the Island called Ineswitrin was in Dumnonia. The last event recorded in De
inventione is in 1144 so we can conclude the text pertains to that era and also Henry is said to have sold his
Deanship to Waltham that year.
double mausoleum with a new epitaph. Adam, the abbey’s principal
chronicler (since the consolidator of DA), makes it clear that Guinevere was
alongside Arthur in the new resting place they had been provided when
Edward I and Eleanor of Castile arrived to have the tomb opened once
more: Wherein , in two caskets painted with their pictures and arms, were
found separately the bones of the said king, which were of great size and
those of Guinevere, which were of marvelous beauty…..On the following
day….the lord king replaced the bones of the king and queen each in their own
casket, having wrapped them in costly silks. When they had been sealed, they
ordered the tomb to be placed forthwith in front of the high altar after
removal of the skulls for the veneration of the people.
With the reference to Arthur’s large bones and the fact that there were
two skulls, it would indicate that Guinevere was there after all. This is why I
am insistent that Giraldus’ testimony is the more solid than any other’s….
about Guinevere being part of the manufactured gravesite that Henry Blois
had planted. However, continuing with Gerald’s account:
8) A lead cross was placed under the stone, not above as is usual in our
times, but instead fastened to the underside. I have seen this cross, and have
traced the engraved letters not visible and facing outward, but rather
turned inwardly toward the stone. It read: "Here lies entombed King Arthur,
with Guenevere his second wife, on the Isle of Avalon."
Charles T Wood, writes:
39
In spite of Giraldus’s assurances that he himself
has seen and touched the cross, its reported words fail to inspire confidence.
Wood then does what no other scholar has done, he concludes the dig was
genuine: It follows then, that the first dig was genuine, and it may be that the
stone with its identifying cross once lay flush with the original surface before
the new layers of concealing clay were added. The consequences of positing
such a proposition throws up so many specious scenarios (i.e. if we start to
believe in a genuine Arthur buried at Glastonbury), it is simply not worth
throwing them all in the air for nothing will come of it. It is simpler just to
remind the reader that Insula Avallonis is a Blois invention along with
chivalric Arthur, so the cross has to be bogus.
Wood does however make one contribution by asking the question: why
was Arthur somewhat tardily added to what was otherwise a group
39
C.T.Wood. Fraud and it consequences.
consisting purely of Saints. As we covered in DA, the discovery of Dunstan’s
relics are an opportune consequence of the fire and written up by a later
interpolator into DA with the concoction of a coffin (however, we have
argued previously for Henry Blois having perhaps been the instigator of the
coffin). King Arthur was put at Glastonbury by Henry Blois and was not
‘tardy’; the bones meant to represent him had just remained there for thirty
years in the ground. Don’t forget Henry would not have buried Arthur and
Guinevere until after 1158 when both Vulgate HRB and Wace’s Roman de
Brut became prolific.
9) Many remarkable things come to mind regarding this. For instance, he
had two wives, of whom the last was buried with him. Her bones were
discovered with her husband's, though separated in such a way that two-
thirds of the sepulcher, namely the part nearer the top, was believed to
contain the bones of the husband, and then one-third, toward the bottom,
separately contained the bones of his wife wherein was also discovered a
yellow lock of feminine hair, entirely intact and pristine in colour, which a
certain monk eagerly seized in hand and lifted out; immediately the whole
thing crumbled to dust.
We should accept that the cross stated that Guinevere was Arthur’s
second wife. It is possible to speculate that the commonly held inscription
(omitting Guinevere) is on a fabricated cross made by Glastonbury after the
disinterment. It is this possibility which leads the scholars astray regarding
Gerald. Richard Barber recounts: If Camden’s cross is that originally ‘found
in the grave then Gerald’s account must be treated as highly unreliable. We
should only enquire how it is then, that Guinevere is present in 1278 and
Gerald two years after the fact wastes his time recounting facts about
Guinevere’s hair.
Why Gerald is accused by Barber of not being present at the
disinterment
40
in no way correlates with the above specifics about the
proportions of the grave and actions immediately surrounding the dig.
There seems to be a conspiracy and overall dismissal of the earliest
chronicler who wrote just after the event in preference to Adam who wrote
40
Richard Barber. Was Mordred buried at Glastonbury? Gerald of Wales’s text is less likely to be an eyewitness
account than a reworking in his high literary style of an earlier, genuine description by someone who was
present. Again most of the scholars take this view point because of the discrepancy on the newly fabricated cross
traced by Camden.
a least sixty years after the event and mirrors what Gerald writes anyway.
Why Camden’s tracing c.1600 is preferred to Gerald’s testimony where he
avers that he traced it also is typical of Scholars’ contriving to fit.
Liber de Principis Instructione must have been written before the end of
1193 as Henry de Sully was elected to the See of Worcester on 4 December
1193 and consecrated on 12 December 1193. Gerald says the dig was under
the supervision of the abbot of that place, Henry, who was later transferred to
Worcester Cathedral… So, Gerald is definitely not confused with any other
than Henry de Sully. Gerald unequivocally states in Liber de Principis
Instructione (as above) Arthur had two wives.
So Wright’s
41
assessment of a misunderstanding of the epitaph given by
Adam c.1277 is misguided. Gerald actually relates the inscription: Hic iacet
sepultus inclitus rex Arthurus cum Wenneueria uxore sua secunda in insula
Avallonia.
Grandsen seems to think Gerald conspires with the monks and commits
to the ‘press release’ idea. The one problem with this theory is that Gerald is
advocating what he saw and he saw Guinevere….so, he could not be in
cahoots with the monks. Barber advocates also the official newsletter idea,
but discounts Gerald’s testimony upon the basis that if Camden’s cross
c.1600 was that which was found, then Gerald must be the liar writing a
year afterward.
What if it is Gerald alone writing a year or so after the dig who states
what was on the real cross before the hymn sheet was regularized and a
new cross fabricated and Guinevere omitted. Guinevere’s presence is more
likely to exist on a cross…. fabricated by Henry Blois’ motivation in
corroborating the historicity of HRB. Therefore, when Henry was
manufacturing the cross, he posits her as Arthur’s second wife as the first
was adulterous. Henry, as we have seen, loves to leave confusing detail…. as
if the mists of time has covered the truth. We should not forget that
Guinevere is cited as being buried in the cemetery in DA (as long as one is
capable of accepting the interpolation is by Henry Blois) and also Guinevere
is said to be buried in Avalon in Perlesvaus also written by Henry Blois. So,
the chance of her name being mentioned on the cross is dramatically
increased when all things are considered. It seems Guinevere was supposed
41
Neil Wright. A new Arthurian Epitaph. Wright put forward the speculation that: in the epitaph the adjective
secunda is used adverbially, qualifying the participle tumulata.
to be there, (as Henry had arranged the grave with her in it), but latterly she
was expunged in accounts by the mores of propriety in that she disgraced
herself with Mordred in HRB.
Queen Guinevere tries to seduce Sir Launfal and it is not by accident
that both Marie and Chrétien’s sketch of Arthur’s queen is less than
blameless based on the Mordred affair in Henry’s work. Marie of France’s
work was in the public domain long before 1189-91 and also Chrétien
portrays Guinevere and her love affair with Arthur's chief knight Sir
Lancelot before her relics are found with Arthur’s at Glastonbury. This
story appeared in Chrétien de Troyes's Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart. It is
hardly likely then that Glastonbury monks wanted any relationship with
the promotion of Guinevere.
Barber believes that if Gerald had actually watched the excavation in
progress, he would have said as much, and even if he had done I doubt
Barber would have given him any more credibility but Gerald does not
mention the curtains surrounding the dig which is obviously Adam mixing
up the previous De Inventione account.
If what Barber really thinks is that Gerald was not there and hears the
account from an eyewitness; is Barber still going to advocate that the other
extraneous detail concerning Guinevere is also made up? If he is not going
to accuse Gerald of that then according to the scholastic view a fraudulent
Henry de Sully put Guinevere in the grave. But then if Barber believes
Camden’s cross is that originally ‘found in the grave then Gerald’s account
must be treated as highly unreliable.Why would Henry de Sully have put
Guinevere in the grave and excluded her from the inscription that
supposedly Camden or one of the others portray; and then Barber reminds
us:We should only enquire how it is then, that Guinevere is present in 1278
and Gerald two years after the fact wastes his time recounting facts about
Guinevere’s hair.
The only way to see this indicates Gerald’s account is more believable.
What more does Barber want than the intricate description of how the
cross was placed relative to the slab, the destruction of the lock of hair (yet
if it did turn to dust Gerald saw it beforehand); and Gerald’s comments on
the inappropriate actions of the monk jumping in the hole and the three
quarter proportion of the grave taken up by Arthur which is an observation
made on site looking in the grave not related by a third party. When all
were amazed at the size of the bone it was stood against someone. A hands
breadth between the eye-sockets is so much more detailed than any other
account. Why lie about the inscription? Why does Barber not think Gerald
has not said he is there on site at the gravesite at the moment…. when he is
part of the crowd he mentions?
In 1278 both Guinevere and Arthur are exhumed from the original re-
interment. So, it makes little sense of Wood to accuse Gerald of prattling on
about a second wife; when Gerald is describing her bones and lock of hair
and the episode of the monk jumping into the grave…. while at the same
time, accusing Gerald of hearing the ‘official version’. Gerald’s version is the
first version. The omission of Guinevere is the concocted official version.
Gerald wrote the Guinevere episode because that is how it transpired.
Henry Blois had put her ‘bits’ in the grave as he lets us know Arthur’s wife
is buried with him in DA.
Wood, along with the others, envisage Gerald as an invited guest after
the fact: Shortly after the discoveries of 1191, Gerald is encouraged to come to
Glastonbury both to view the find and to write the abbey’s past glories. While
there, he sees the tomb, hears the official version of the bones recovery, and
closely examines the identifying lead cross, the inscription on which he
records with scrupulous accuracy, But- and this is a crucial but-when he
comes to the cross’s uxore secunda, he naturally assumes that these words
must mean that Guinevere was Arthur’s second wife, surely a logical
conclusion, given normal usage, and especially for one unacquainted with
the specifics of Arthurian marital history. In fact the monastic makers of the
cross had always intended a rather more positive message, that she was ‘fair’
or ‘fortunate’, attributes much more in keeping with Caradoc of Llancarfan
and other Welsh sources at their disposal. Gerald, alas, does not know this, so
when writing his account he embellishes it with a display of his own
ignorance by blithely prattling on in his own voice about Arthur’s two
wives. In other words, for this claim he had no source other than his own
inventiveness. It is more likely Gerald is not prattling, but telling us what
Henry Blois has had engraved on the cross. I think if Wood had prattled on
any further with his own inventiveness he might display his own ignorance.
If we assume Guinevere was not even present we must also assume in
1278 the monks decided to mirror Giraldus’s version of events by opening
the grave for which reason Edward and Eleanor had turned up. This would
in effect contradict the Glastonbury monks’ previous ‘official version’ that
Arthur was alone…. in that, the newly fabricated cross no longer mentions
Guinevere.
Not one scholar accepts that it was Henry Blois who manufactured the
grave and inserted the location where Arthur and Guinevere were to be
found in DA. The reader is now better informed. Without this knowledge,
no definitive solution will be accepted regarding Gerald’s account and his
inclusion of Guinevere. Perlesvaus tells how Guinevere died of sorrow for
the death of her son Lohot, and was buried in the island of Avalon, where it
just so happens Arthur is also destined to be discovered.
10) Indeed, there had been some evidence from the records that the body
might be found there, and some from the lettering carved on the pyramids
(although that was mostly obliterated by excessive antiquity), and also some
that came from the visions and revelations made by good men and the devout.
I should remind the reader that we are looking at an account definitively
written within a couple of years of the unearthing. This is not Gerald
‘blithely prattling on’. It is a record of someone having read DA knowing
that the body might be found between the pyramids and explaining why
the dig happened where it did and how that information was derived.
We know Gerald has read DA by the mirrored etymological account re-
iterated from Henry’s interpolation concerning Avalon. One interesting
observation is that Gerald implies that evidence of the site also came from
the lettering on the piramide. The reader will remember that William
actually quotes those names on the piramide as part of his updated GR3 and
those names were legible after six hundred years. 50 years later, we are told
they are obliterated by excessive antiquity. Ralph of Coggeshall in his
Chronicon Anglicanum also says the piramides were indecipherable. Now, it
does not take much imagination for someone intent on making a fictional
person come to life (in historicity) to obliterate the older names and infer
Arthur was present and the piramides actually celebrated the grave.
42
I only
speculate this proposition because Gerald infers that.
43
This may indeed be
42
This would counter the argument that Arthur was hidden at such depth to avoid the Saxons etc. The
supposition has little import, even if we did assume Henry Blois had etched something about Arthur on the
piramide, as we know the whole site is manufactured between the piramides. The site was chosen so the location
might be exposed later by an obvious land mark specified in DA
43
Aelred Watkin ignores Gerald and states: It seems abundantly clear that there was nothing in the inscriptions
on the pyramids which could have conduced to the search for Arthur.
part of the problem in the differing renditions of the epitaph, if one was
inscribed on sandstone and then worn away to pretend antiquity. We
should also be aware of Henry Bloiscunning in this regard in that it might
be inferred that the smaller pyramid is in memorial of Guinevere and the
larger for Arthur. Now, from where the ‘visions of good and devout men’ is
derived…. is open to a multitude of speculation. What it does again infer is
that there was precognition of the gravesite at Glastonbury prior to the dig;
which, in effect, negates the modern scholastic view that Henry de Sully
concocted the whole affair by himself. Scholars ignore Giraldus’s testimony
as it does not fit the present theory of Henry de Sully staging the entire
event.
11) But the clearest evidence came when King Henry II of England
explained the whole matter to the monks (as he had heard it from an aged
British bard): how they would find the body deep down, namely more than 16
feet into the earth, and not in a stone tomb but in an oak-hollow. The body
had been placed so deep, and was so well concealed, that it could not be found
by the Saxons who conquered the island after the King's death those whom
he had battled with so much exertion while he was alive, and whom he had
nearly annihilated.
The scenarios are many that may explain away the conundrums and
contradictions concerning King Henry. There are three main possibilities.
The first is: we do not ignore Gerald, but the conundrum is that Henry II
died in July 1189 and in September 1189 Richard I of England, just after his
crowning at Westminster, appointed Henry de Sully, Abbot of Glastonbury.
We might find a solution to the conundrum of Henry de Sully’s association
with Henry II, if Henry de Sully were to have left Bermondsey to be at
Glastonbury while Henry II was alive. Even though Henry de Sully was
Richard I’s cousin, there is nothing to counter the argument that he was
already at Glastonbury before his appointment and disinterred Arthur
while Henry II was alive. Robert of Winchester, the previous abbot had died
in 1180. Crick’s assessment is that the initiative for the excavation came
from Henry II but the excavation was carried out in the time of Richard I.
The second possibility is: we ignore Gerald and assume that a year or
two after King Henry’s death, financial constraints on the abbey became so
dire with Richard I on crusade and contributing nothing, Henry de Sully
invents the whole thing. Grave site, with Adam’s curtains and a fabricated
cross with an inscription omitting mention of Guinevere. This is for the
most part, the accepted theory today with the pick and mix conjecture put
forward by scholars. A third is too long to append here so I have put it in
Appendix 34 and is offered as another pick and mix speculation. Or, of
course, we can believe Gerald.
12) And so because of this the lettering on the cross the confirmation of
the truth had been inscribed on the reverse side, turned toward the stone,
so that it would conceal the tomb at that time and yet at some moment or
occasion could ultimately divulge what it contained. What Henry Blois had in
fact done is affix the cross with the inscription facing inward toward the
stone slab (an earlier tomb covering found while in search for Joseph),
which, in effect, covered the hollowed wooden coffin in which he had
placed the bogus animal bones. The object of this is to protect the
inscription which was to be Henry’s pièce de résistance in his faux-historical
romanticized authorial edifice now known as the Matter of Britain. Finding
Arthur was the confirmation the doubters had needed that Avalon was
truly at Glastonbury, just as the DA had already made plain.
13) What is now called Glastonbury was, in antiquity, called the Isle of
Avalon; Are we really to believe in 1192 when Gerald is composing this
work he has no previous idea of a connection between Glastonbury and
Avalon? When Carley assesses Gerald’s account regarding King Henry’s
input he asks: Why Henry would suggest Glastonbury for the scene of
Arthurs discovery is more difficult to determine. Carley has no idea that
King Henry could only have learnt what he knew from the person who
manufactured the gravesite. Carley is also ignorant of Henry Blois
interpolations already inserted in DA or the fact that Gerald has read DA
with Henry Bloisinterpolations…. already part of the composition of the T
version c.1189-91. Carley’s assessment concerning the advent of the Grail
and the fact that he does not comprehend that Glastonbury was already
understood as Avalon before the dig, leads to misguided conclusions: The
development of the Grail legend as we know it took place during a very few
years, from shortly before 1190 to c 1230. The same period was one of the
most significant in Glastonbury’s history; in c.1191 King Arthur’s body was
discovered in the abbey cemetery and as a result Glastonbury became publicly
identified with Avalon
Are we really supposed to believe that Robert de Boron mentions Vaus
d’Avaron prior to knowledge of Avalon at Glastonbury and then King Henry
II randomly picks Glastonbury as the site to fake an unearthing of Arthur.
The assumption is trite to say the least; especially if (as Carley envisages the
events) Robert’s Joseph is sending the Grail to Avalon c.1190 and it just so
happens Arthur is unearthed in the same place in the same year at
Glastonbury (which, it also transpires, has a connection to Joseph). What
about Perlesvaus which predates Chretiens work which also mentions
Avalon…. which has to be Glastonbury because of the mention of the
church covered in lead? We know the scholars view is that…. because
Gerald does not mention Joseph, his name could not be in DA at this time.
But, then how did the Grail and Joseph get mixed with Arthur in the courts
on the continent. Of course we come back to Master Blehis and hisoutput
between 1160-70
We come back also to Carley’s mentor’s fatuous explanation of a
‘fortuitous convergence of factors, which fall conveniently into place with
no architect! Are we supposed to accept Gerald even comes up with the idea
of explaining how ‘Geoffrey’s Insula Pomorum in VM is also ‘Geoffrey’s’
Insula Avallonis in HRB; and both now apply to Glastonbury.
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Gerald is
regurgitating what was already written in chapter 5 of DA. We would then
have to believe that evidence from the records that the body might be found
there is not referring to chapter 31 in DA. If we follow this train of belief,
we might then logically conclude in Wood’s possibility that Arthur’s grave is
genuine. If it was a genuine grave we should then have to accept Arthur
was a giant that resembled an ape. Like a dog chasing its tail we can go on
ad infinitum as long as we keep ignoring Henry Blois’ input.
We can either accept the expert’s view and ignore Giraldus’, which
would necessitate a belief in the chance ‘fortuitous convergence of factors’….
or one can accept that Henry Blois interpolated DA and is the architect
behind the Matter of Britain. The real problem is that this would then have
44
Carley says Geoffrey himself made no connection between Avalon and Glastonbury; in his writings Avalon is
the equivalent of the Celtic Otherworld. P xlii The chronicle of Glastonbury abbey. The tedium with which the
Celtic Otherworld (for want of a better explanation) is peddled by one and all is excruciating. If Geoffrey does
not make the connection between Avalon and Glastonbury; who does? Are we to believe it is Gerald that is the
first to put it in writing? Or is it Henry de Sully who transfixes a nation with a lead cross; who, in an instant,
locates Avalon at Glastonbury? Or is it, as Carley suggests, by royal intervention? Who could it be? Maybe it
was the abbot of Glastonbury the author of HRB and VM who made the connection by interpolating DA.
a serious consequence. One would then have to accept that Joseph’s
sepulchre is on Burgh Island.
13) it is like an island because it is entirely hemmed in by swamps. In
British it is called Inis Avallon, that is, insula pomifera [Latin: "The Island of
Apples”]. This is because the apple, which is called aval in the British tongue,
was once abundant in that place. Gerald is regurgitating chapter 5 in DA
where it gives also the origin of the name Avalon and how Glasteing found
his sow under the apple tree and he named the island Avallonie, which
means Apple Island and Avalla in British is the same as Poma in Latin.
14) Morgan, a noble matron, mistress and patroness of those regions, and
also King Arthur's kinswoman by blood, brought Arthur to the island now
called Glastonbury for the healing of his wounds after the Battle of Camlann.
It is staggeringly clever how Henry Blois has woven his authorial edifice
together. It would also seem beyond the bounds of coincidence that the little
known insular VM story of Merlin’s madness where Morgan is mentioned
on Insula Pomorum, just happens to be a friend of Guigomar, Lord of Avalon
in Chrétien’s Erec. Again, in the VM, Arthur is delivered to the Fortunate isle
to Morgan, where,she said that health could be restored to him if he stayed
with her for a long time and made use of her healing art. It is on Isidore’s
Hesperides that we find Golden apples not as ‘Geoffrey’ later attests they
are on the Fortunate isles from where he derives his Insula Pomorum. The
Cauldron of the chief of the otherworld and the nine maidens who tended it
are conflated with the nine sorceress priestesses of Pomponius Mela’s
island of Sena…. and then again, with purposeful intent, with the nine
maidens on Insula Pomorum in VM. One would have to accept that in
chapter 5 of DA, it is Henry Blois’ own words which compose the conflation
with the Welsh Afallennau: Apple island from avalla in British is the same as
poma in Latin. Or it was named after a certain Avalloc who is said to have
lived there with his daughters…. Now, this mass of conflation Gerald
accepts, because much of it is in ‘Malmesbury’s DA. But, Gerald even
introduces into his account Caradoc’s etymological contortion of how
Glastonbury got its name as witnessed in what follows:
15) Moreover, the island had once been called in British Inis Gutrin, that
is, insula vitrea [Latin: "The Island of Glass"]; from this name, the invading
Saxons afterwards called this place Glastingeburi, for glas in their language
means vitrum [Latin:"glass"], and buri stands for castrum [Latin:"castle"] or
civitas [Latin:"city"]. We first hear of the vernacular‘Isle de Voirrethrough
Chrétien de Troyes
Henry’s ingenious etymological conversion of Ineswitrin to Ynes Gutrin
which gives the Glass Island which Caradoc (Henry Blois) first introduces in
Life of Gildas, we have already explained was an addition to the Life of
Gildas…. so that the 601 Charter was credible (in that it applied to an estate
at Glastonbury). It is also through Henry Blois or Master Blehis and Chrétien
de Troyes where we meet Maheloas as lord of the Isle de Voirre which
relates to Caradoc’s Melvas and his Urbs Vitrea.
Anyway, we can see that Gerald is fairly au courant with how
etymologies are derived straight after the excavation. Now, the one thing
that flags up a suspicion here…. which indicates Gerald is squaring a DA
account of Avalon and where he feels it necessary to introduce
Glastonbury’s derivation from Ineswitrin, is because the two names are in
DA, both posited as names for Glastonbury. There is no reason to introduce
any other etymology, especially if he has only just made the connection to
Avalon through the cross being produced. Gerald has seen DA. and DA has
Avalon commensurate with Glastonbury before the dig. The monks are well
aware at Glastonbury that William of Malmesbury (supposedly) had posited
Glastonbury as Avalon.
16 ) It should be noted also that the bones of Arthur's body which they
discovered were so large that the poet's verse seems to ring true: "Bones
excavated from tombs are reckoned enormous”. Indeed, his shin-bone, which
the abbot showed to us, was placed near the shin of the tallest man of the
region; then it was fixed to the ground against the man's foot, and it extended
substantially more than three inches above his knee. And the skull was broad
and huge, as if he were a monster or prodigy, to the extent that the space
between the eyebrows and the eye-sockets amply encompassed the breadth of
one's palm. Moreover, ten or more wounds were visible on that skull, all of
which had healed into scars except one, greater than the rest, which had
made a large cleft this seems to have been the lethal one.
The Skull must have been the holed head of an ape which was buried by
Henry and sourced from his zoo which he had inherited from his uncle king
Henry Ist (especially with the reference to the space between the eyebrows
and huge sockets). Henry had planted these bones because this was the
Arthur that fought giants. This is the description of a Gorilla skull.
45
There
seems little doubt the bones existed. The shin bone was probably the Tibia
of the same animal. If all we have related about Henry Blois and his fanciful
imagination has anything to do with his having manufactured a grave so
that his invented persona of Arthur will endure throughout the generations
of man….is it not likely he put a Gorilla skull in Arthur’s grave not Henry de
Sully? The poet’s verse referred to seems poignantly directed as if already
understood that there was a ditty composed (no doubt by an ancient Welsh
bard) which related to the size of Arthur’s bones.
The above numbered 1 through 16 is the complete coverage of Arthur’s
disinterment mentioned by Gerald c.1192-3.We should now see what he
says in Speculum Ecclesiaec.1217, when he next broaches the subject, but in
the brief section below Gerald is only relating the circumstances of Arthur’s
exhumation relative to the corruptible nature of mankind in:
Cap. VIII.
Regarding the monk who, at the discovery of the tomb of Arthur, pulled out a
lock of women's hair with his hand, and quite shamelessly accelerated its
ruin.
1) In our own lifetime, while Henry II was ruling England, diligent efforts
were made in Glastonbury Abbey to locate what must have once been the
tomb of Arthur. This was done at the instruction of the King and under the
supervision of the abbot of that place, Henry, who was later transferred to
Worcester Cathedral.
Gerald, 25 years after having written his first account is still insistent that
Henry II was connected to the dig. He would hardly mention his name again
and mean Richard I. There is simply no solution to the conundrum unless
the dig transpired before July 1189 and Henry de Sully had moved to
Glastonbury before being formally elected.
45
See Image 2
2) With much difficulty, the tomb was excavated in the holy burial-ground
which had been dedicated by Saint Dunstan. The tomb was found between
two tall, emblazoned pyramids, erected long ago in memory of Arthur.
There is clear evidence that Gerald believes that the pyramids were
constructed to commemorate Arthur’s burial. One assumes logically, that in
Gerald’s mind, they were constructed at a later date, because the idea of
burying Arthur so deep was to avoid being found. I suspect that when
Henry Blois made known the information concerning the depth of the tomb
to Henry II, he might have invented this explanation as part of the lore
which explained why the tomb was at such a depth. The tomb in reality, as
we have covered, was in effect a tomb of an earlier body which had been
interred before the renovations to the cemetery in Dunstan’s era. Henry
Blois had used this tomb and its existing slab to secret the artefacts which
were later found by Henry de Sully.
3) Though his body and bones had been reduced to dust, they were lifted up
from below into the air, and to a more seemly place of burial.
The contradiction here is that if the tibia and skull had survived, where
was the rest of the body? Gerald seems to deal with this anomaly by
inferring the rest had been reduced to dust. Again, this is not something
that Henry de Sully would have been able to pull off without there having
been the manufactured grave planted by Henry Blois. It actually points to
the fact that modern gorilla bones were mixed with ancient human remains
from the previous occupant.
4) In the same grave there was found a tress of woman's hair, blonde and
lovely to look at, plaited and coiled with consummate skill, and belonging, no
doubt, to Arthur's wife, who was buried there with her husband.
Gerald expands upon his original account saying the hair was plaited
and coiled. If Gerald was not present at the time he would not be describing
something which at the time of the account crumbled with age upon being
man handled. He also says, as an eyewitness, the hair was blonde and
initially it had been in a beautiful plait before it crumbled. Gerald is
recalling the event and mentioning details he had not commented upon
before. I am sure scholars will still say Gerald is prattling on. However, for
those who have tried to deny that Guinevere was even present, the lock is
assumed to be his wife’s. It makes little sense to prattle on about a wife and
her hair if the lock was not in evidence at the unearthing.
We might make the observation that there is little to be gained by Henry
de Sully introducing the plait of hair; If he had indeed been the instigator of
planting the artefacts in the grave. We can deduce it is more to the benefit
of Henry Blois as it establishes the historicity of his HRB and this is why we
should accept that Guinevere’s name is mentioned on the cross in the
original, at least conceding her name upon it without stating categorically
that it mentioned a ‘second wife(especially since she is mentioned in DA
and in Perlesvaus which I maintain were published before the
disinterment). I personally believe What Gerald quotes as written on the
cross is what was there.
4) Standing among the crowd is a monk who sees the lock of hair. So that
he could seize the lock before all others, he hurled himself headlong into the
lowest depths of the cavity. Then the aforementioned monk, that insolent
spectator, no less impudent than imprudent, descended into the depths.
Gerald, again, does not mention curtains surrounding the excavation,
but does say there was a crowd surrounding the hole in the ground which
in someway confirms that Adam, writing 60 years after the event, has
confused the record of the De inventione dig at Montacute and assimilated
details into his account of the Arthur exhumation.
5) the depths symbolize the infernal realm, which none of us can escape.
Thus the monk thought to pull it out with his hand, to take hold of the lock of
hair before all others evidence of his shameless mind, for women's hair
entangles the weak-willed, while strong souls avoid it. Hair, of course, is said
to be incorruptible, for it has no flesh in it, nor any moisture mixed with it.
Nevertheless, as he held it in his hand, having raised it up in order to inspect
it (many watched intently and in amazement), it crumbled into the thinnest
dust; miraculously it disintegrated, as if reduced to granules. [There are a few
words in the manuscript missing here.]
For it demonstrated that all things are transitory, and all worldly beauty is
for our vain eyes to gaze upon, for performing illicit sensual acts, or for our
moments that are susceptible to vanity indeed, as the philosopher said, "the
splendor of beauty is swift, passing, changeable, and more fleeting than the
flowers of spring.”Gerald might be perceived as blithely prattling as he
makes relative his experience at the dig with his theological rationalizations
of monkish mores. But there was a crowd, there were others, and many
watched intently. This was not some little stage show hatched by Henry de
Sully but a grave site manufactured with care many years previously and
many were present to test the credibility of the age of the dig. Arthur was
famous and his skull and size had to be big to take on giants, Henry had
even crushed the gorilla’s skull so that it appeared to have a fatal wound.
.
Cap.IX.
Regarding the bones lying intact in the tomb of King Arthur, discovered at
Glastonbury in our times, and about the many things relating to these
remarkable circumstances.
6) Furthermore, tales are regularly reported and fabricated about King
Arthur and his uncertain end, with the British peoples even now contending
foolishly that he is still alive. True and accurate information has been sought
out, so the legends have finally been extinguished; the truth about this matter
should be revealed plainly, so here I have endeavored to add something to the
indisputable facts that have been disclosed. Gerald’s intention is to put an
end to the rumours concerning Arthur. Now Gerald believes what ‘Geoffrey’
wrote!!!!
7) After the Battle of Camlann . . . [A number of words are missing in the
manuscript.] And so, after Arthur had been mortally wounded there, his body
was taken to the Isle of Avalon, which is now called Glastonbury, by a noble
matron and kinswoman named Morgan; afterwards the remains were buried,
according to her direction, in the holy burial-ground. As a result of this, the
Britons and their poets have been concocting legends that a certain fantastic
goddess, also called Morgan, carried off the body of Arthur to the Isle of
Avalon for the healing of his wounds. When his wounds have healed, the
strong and powerful King will return to rule the Britons (or so the Britons
suppose), as he did before. Thus they still await him, just as the Jews, deceived
by even greater stupidity, misfortune, and faithlessness, likewise await their
Messiah.
8) It is significant . . . [Two sentences or so are damaged in the manuscript]
Truly it is called Avalon, either from the British word aval, which means
pomum because apples and apple trees abound in that place; or, from the
name Vallo, once the ruler of that territory. Likewise, long ago the place was
usually called in British Inis Gutrin, that is, insula vitrea[Latin: "The Island of
Glass"], evidently on account of the river, most like glass in color, that flows
around the marshes. Because of this, it was later called Glastonia in the
language of the Saxons who seized this land, since glas in English or in Saxon
means vitrum[Latin:"glass"]. It is clear from this,