Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Croatian memorial stone source of latest Arthur incarnation

"CROATIA is a strange place to discover a clue linking King Arthur with Cumbria. But John Matthews, who was a historical advisor on the newly released Hollywood film King Arthur, says the memorial stone of an Anglo-Roman commander found in a Croatian village adds weight to the theory that places the legend against the backdrop of Hadrian's Wall.

Mr Matthews, a leading expert on the legend, from Oxfordshire, says: The historical theory is that a Romano-British leader, Lucius Artorius Castus, was stationed at Hadrian's Wall, probably at Birdoswald.

We know he was the commander of a legion of Sarmatian warriors, who came from between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the second century AD towards the end of Roman rule in Britain. A Roman habit of including a potted biography on a memorial tells historians where Lucius Artorius Castus was stationed and that he was commanding some of the 5,500 Sarmatians, skilled cavalrymen, brought to Britain to fight.

Archeological finds show Sarmatians stayed in Britain long after the Romans left, remaining in a tight knit ethnic group and, like Arthur, their battle insignia was a dragon.

Also, as in the Excalibur myth, they worshipped an image of a sword stuck in the ground as the symbol of their god of war."
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