22 Feb 2017, 06:25 AM
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Chapter 3 Journal Activity

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Geoffrey of Monmouth and his everlasting myths


Geoffrey of Monmouth has had a lasting effect not just on archaeology but on popular culture. His gathering of myths and stories coupled with invention have led to the stories of Arthur and Merlin lasting until today, and they show no signs of abating. Historians debate the sources, people watch the programmes, archaeologists spend time refuting people who take his words as gospel, usually with a sigh and by saying "there is no evidence of that"

People still believe that Stonehenge was built by the druids, led in part by the media who like to get pictures of the modern day Arthur Pendragon and his sword, amongst the latter day druids on the solstice. The latter day druids hark back to the romanticisation of the ancient past that became prevalent in William Stukely's day and continued well into Victorian times, and is still an attraction to people today.

As well as Stonehenge, for archaeologists, the effect is also apparent on other sites such as Tintagel castle. A lot of people are aware that the bluestones come from Wales, more so than they are aware of Geoffrey of Monmouth saying that the sarsen stones for Stonehenge come from Ireland. Barely a discussion about Stonehenge goes by without a debate about the movement of the stones, and without fail, someone will suggest that Merlin flew them there from Wales. When someone points out that the sarsens come from the Marlborough downs, the response is sometimes "well they are heavier, it is no surprise that he didn't fly them from Wales".

Maybe I just enjoy pub talk too much, but I have had that situation quite a few times.

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