Properly told, the tale of the warlord Arthur’s defense of a Roman-Celtic Britain from invading Angles and Saxons is one of the great Frontier Partisans epics of all time. When I say properly told, I’m talking about hill forts and trading villages, barbarian raiders and Celtic light cavalry. Forest and fen and the old magic of Britain. None of that plate armor BS!
Thus, I will be tuning in to the March 27 Oregon Public Broadcasting airing of Secrets of the Dead: King Arthur’s Lost Kingdom. It features the appealing professor Alice Roberts, and the estimable Max Adams, whose works blend travelogue and history in fascinating meditations on Dark Ages landscapes and their persistence.
Here’s the official description of the show:
After four centuries of occupation and leadership, the Romans left Britain in 410 AD and the island’s fate was left hanging in the balance. History teaches that in the 5th century, the country descended into a tumultuous and violent period knows as the Dark Ages, leaving the nation vulnerable to invading Angle and Saxon hordes from northern Europe. With a nation divided, great leader known as King Arthur emerged, uniting the lawless lands to fight off invaders — or at least that’s what the fragmentary historical texts suggest. The truth is, no one really knows what happened, and this pivotal moment in history has been shrouded in mystery — until now.
In Secrets of the Dead: King Arthur’s Lost Kingdom, Professor Alice Roberts and a team of experts use new archaeological discoveries to decode Dark Ages myths and piece together a very different story of this turning point in Britain’s history that might also explain the legend of King Arthur.
The key to Professor Roberts’ quest is the excavation of a stone palace complex on the Tintagel peninsula in Cornwall, England — long believed to be the birthplace of the King Arthur legend. More than folklore, was Arthur, in fact ruler, of a prosperous and sophisticated trading village, and the heroic defender of the native Britons against the invading Anglo-Saxons?