King Arthur at Carlisle

On Saturday we popped up to Carlisle to catch the final day of The Legend of King Arthur exhibition at Tullie House. It seemed appropriate that our second visit was on the final day of this glorious exhibition, as our first visit had been on the first day of the exhibition.

There is so much packed into "this swoon of a show" (The Times) that we needed a second visit to appreciate all that was exhibited. 

The exhibition also explores King Arthur’s connection to Cumbria and seeks to end the age-old argument: Cumbria or Cornwall? by pinpointing key locations from legend through a combination of key Pre-Raphaelite works together with works from the Tullie collection.

After enjoying the exhibition we strolled over to Carlisle Castle and, steeped in Arthurian legend, imagined the Castle as the place where Lancelot met Guinevere and, where according to Sir Thomas Malory, Guinevere and Lancelot's affair was exposed by Mordred. At Carlisle Castle Lancelot rescues Guinevere from the stake. Carlisle is where Perceval first comes to Arthur’s court. In Erec and Enide, Erec adventures to prove marriage has not made him less of a knight, and looks for Arthur at Carlisle. It is from Carlisle that Yvain sets out on his great adventure. The noble Saracen, Sir Palomides, is baptised at Carlisle.

Sir Gawain, spends a fair amount of time around Carlisle. In Arthurian Romance, Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain’s search for the Green Chapel takes him to the Inglewood forest south of present-day Carlisle. The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnell, is set in Carlisle, as is Sir Gawain and the Churl of Carlisle, which is another story of the Celtic-originating “Beheading Game”.

There is such a lot of evidence that I definitely come down on the side of Carlisle rather than Camelot. I love the idea that King Arthur's court really was in Carlisle.