Arthur and the Lost Kingdoms

Arthur and the Lost Kingdoms coverArthur and the Lost Kingdoms
Alistair Moffat
Birlinn (November 1, 2012), 308 pages
Kindle edition $10.99, Paperback $27.93
Purchased during an Early Bird Books sale for $1.99

Alistair Moffat spent many years as an actor and as an executive for the Scottish equivalent of the BBC before retiring to live on his farm in southern Scotland and work as an amateur historian. This book is a product of that second career.

There is far less allure to the book than the title might imply. Much of it focuses on the early history of southern Scotland, describing the comings and goings of the Romans, Angles, and Saxons and their interactions with the native Britons. Moffat also has an ax to grind. It is important to him to establish Arthur’s origins in Southern Scotland, and he goes out of his way to do so.

Moffat writes that there is more evidence for the historical existence of Merlin than there is for Arthur. Yet he then uses place names and historical documents from a couple of hundred years after the supposed time of Arthur to describe the battles he led, to state that Arthur considered himself to be a military leader and not a king, and even give a specific year for Arthur’s death.

Moffat’s efforts are in the end unsatisfying and unconvincing. Despite all the efforts he and others have put into unearthing a historical Arthur, I’m not sure we’ll ever find him. Far better, I think, to enjoy and savor the myth and the legend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s