With the arrival of winter, halls fill and hearts lift.

Chretien de Troyes names Arthur's court Camelot in hi medieval romance Lancelot. Over the centuries the vision of Camelot has most often been based on teh medieval, romantic, ideal rather than the Dark Age reality.

Merlin was the architect of the fabled Camelot. Some claimed that the magician completed the castle in a single night. Within its great walls sttod the Round Table and its noble Fellowship, dreams of which seduced many would be knights to seek its Ivory towers. Being the High King, Arthur was forced to hold court throughout his realm, but Camelot remained his seat of poer and favored home.

There are a number of contenders for the site of Arthur's court, including Caerleon, Winchester and Colchester. An Iron Age hill fort near the village of South cadbury in somerset has become teh favored site of many escavations at Cadbury have revealed that it was reoccupied and its defenses strengthened during the time of Arthur's reputed rule.

The Dark Age court may not have been as fanciful as the medieval ideal, but if we are to judge by the insights that early poems provide, we may well say it was at least comfortable. Summer was the active season of campaigning (or raiding), while winter was the time when the king and his warband reaped their rewards and returned tot he warmth of hearth and home. In order to secure his standing and the loyalty o fhis followers, the chieftain would play the generous host throughout the winter. His hall would be furnished with couches and tables, enough to accommodate all. Jester, games, and music entertained the guests, while meats roasted over central hearths. Wine, mead, and ale were served, but were not considered an excuse for bad manners, particularly in the company of women. The firelit halls nurtured laughter, romance, and all important alliances. For the people of the Dark Ages these were times to feast, love, and aspire to the heroic tales and songs of the resident bards. Above all, these dark nights were to be enjoyed!

Ferguson, Anna-Marie. Keeper of Words. 1995 Llewellyn Publications. St. Paul, Minnesota.


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