I was watching the first episode of a new series earlier, ‘Secrets from the Sky’. They were looking at Tintagel Castle – certainly on my list of places to visit one day – which is rumoured to be, variously, Camelot, the birthplace of King Arthur, and the birthplace of Morgan Le Fay. Being a more scientific-leaning programme, interested in the age of the stones used to build the existing castle and the earthworks that suggest an earlier settlement, the programme was quite dismissive of the myths and legends as a whole, though they did find some interesting 1500 year old graffiti indicating that there was at least one man there almost called Arthur.
The legends of King Arthur are, of course, impossible to verify at this point. I personally like to believe there’s a fair bit of truth to them, but I’m a sucker for powerful sorcery, strong women, and family dramas. Plenty of others see them as inspiring tales with little basis in fact, still more as the propaganda of a less impressive warrior king. Who can say what the truth is?
I don’t know how some stories become legends, muddying the waters of history, or which stories will survive 1500 years from now. But I think it’s interesting that some do; that stories have such power to move us and even make us believe in things we usually wouldn’t.
Not only that, but the same stories can capture the imaginations of generations of people – look at the works of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl for children, the novels of Austen and the plays of Shakespeare… and, of course, the Arthurian Legends and the likes of Beowulf. All these stories have held sway over people from different time periods, with different views and opinions, and while some elements of them may now be very dated the general storylines still strike a chord with many people today.
My stories will almost certainly never be legends, and who knows if they’ll last one generation, never mind more? But it’s incredibly inspiring to know that some stories do last, and that every story, no matter how many or how few people it reaches, can change the way someone thinks or feels, can make them smile when they’re sad or give them hope when they’re anxious.
I think that’s important. And I think it’s excellent. See you tomorrow.