Sir Gareth of Orkney: The Key to Arthur’s Kingdom
By Neil Parrish
John C. Young Scholars Project, 2003
Introduction: Dark times had descended on the British Isles at the beginning of the sixth century. Hordes of Saxons flowed into the countryside through the feeble eastern border, spreading carnage and death to Britons and Romans alike. As the population fled to the western highlands of Cornwall and Wales before the ruthless wave of terror, one warrior, Ambrosius Aurelianus, stood stalwart against the tide of barbarism. Gathering refugees, farmers, and warriors to himself, through the power of his example and courage he began to meld them into an army, inspiring the once timid Britons to drive the Saxon invaders back into the sea.
The seed had been planted. Out of chaos and treachery a warrior had emerged; the sole Roman survivor of a Saxon raid who overcame barbarism and “made a realm and reign’d” for a period of 44 years, according to the monk Gildas’ account in “On the Downfall and Conquest of Britain,” written in 547 C.E. Each generation began to add pieces to the tale, always widening its scope and influence. The Latin name Ambrosius Aurelianus was first changed to its British equivalent Arthur by the Welshman Nennius in 800, while the name Mordred wasn’t added until a century later with this famed excerpt from The Annals of Cambria: “539 A.D. The Battle of Camlann, in which Arthur and Medraut both fell”.