Rumors echoed of long ago when the Island of Britain was a realm of giants and dragons. Years before the Romans came and built their villas, cities, and forts. Before the ferocious Celts hacked their way across Europe, with bad hair and attitude, eventually arriving on those misty shores with Brutus, a descendant of Aeneas of Troy. Before even the great stone builders raised Stonehenge and Avebury; this was a land of magic and myth. And those echoes can still be found in the west country where sea- wind whips moor, and woods are steeped in haunting hollows.
Merlin saw two dragons fighting –– red and white serpents entwined in gruesome battle, neither gaining an advantage. Then the white rose up and cast down its foe. But the red rallied and eventually won the fight. So Merlin explained to his Dark Age audience.
The red dragon represented the Cymbri –– the British. The white dragon signified the Saxon (Germanic) invaders who morphed into the English. Merlin the Brit’s Dark Age PR Guru was a tad optimistic. He got it wrong like the weather guy. The Britons were driven west into Wales, Cornwall, and Cumbria, and the savage Saxons settled in the countryside they stole. The white dragon had a sting in its tail.
For many years I lived just a few miles from Tintagel Castle, legendary birthplace of King Arthur. A windswept promontory in North Cornwall. Ruins, walls, grass, and seabirds are all that remains of what must have been an impressive fortress. Arthur’s birthplace? Maybe…
You see the thing about Arthurian Legends is that they can be found throughout the entire Island of Britain. Arthur was born in Cornwall, but he was Welsh. But arguably all the British were Welsh back then (the Anglo-Saxon name for Welsh was Wealas (foreigners.) Ironic as well as insulting. When they drove the Celts west, the yellow-head invaders awarded them this derogatory title. Another example is Cornwall — Horned Welsh (as Cornwall is shaped like a horn — at least to the Saxons with their dodgy road maps, and soggy sea charts.)
But then where does this Merlin character come from, with all his big dragon talk and shaggy hair? Legends find him stalking the Caledonian forests of Southern Scotland. That’s a long hike from Cornwall, even for a wandering druid. Other scholars have Merlin and Arthur living centuries apart, which would have made his counseling the king rather tricky.
Myrddin/Merlin/Merdinus the druid/ bard/mage/magician is a central character in the Arthurian Cycle and yet there are stories set around someone called ‘The Merlin‘ in France and other places throughout Western Europe.
Upshot: A fascinating character whose descriptions vary from the bleak and terrible e.g Odin or Woden to the homely and comfortable, Gandalf & Dumbledore. But just who was he? Not much of a prophet but maybe a kingmaker?
Nikolai Tolstoy wrote a fascinating book on this subject. The Quest for Merlin delves deep into the shroud of myth surrounding those far away times. A fascinating read for anyone wanting to study further. Here’s what Wikipedia says about Merlin.
In Norse Mythology, Ragnarok (aka ‘the end of the world as we know it –– I feel fine.’) is said to be preceded by a three-year winter. Perhaps Jon Snow is right. Winter is Coming!
Weekly Fantasy Series: Episode 4–– The Drop
Keep them interested. That way you get to live longer. Not much longer but every second was an opportunity. Corin whistled a merry tune as he led his captives up into the woods. “Almost there!” he grinned back at Ugami; Big Ugly had his cleaver hovering inches from the back of Corin’s neck.
“I hope so for your sake,” Krugan growled from somewhere behind his men. He had four with him now. They were all ugly, though Ugami held the record thus far. “If this is a ploy I’ll skin you alive over hot fires, or else stake you out in the sun for ants and flies and buzzards.”
“You say the sweetest things,” Corin cursed under his breath as Ugami’s cleaver jabbed his neck. Try that once more, big boy…
At least he had his trousers back! But Corin’s hands were tied hard behind his back, and the evil desert sun cracked and blistered the skin across his shoulders. The woods parted revealing a jumble of rocks. To their left, the track veered, and Corin staggered that way, the closest rock face inches from his shoulder.
“Just around this corner — almost there!” As he yelled the last word, Corin urged forward, twisting his body, so that when Ugami swiped him, Corin kicked the cleaver aside. Seconds gained, Corin, torpedoed his body into Ugami’s bulk, his head impacting on Big Ugly’s chin. Ugami sprawled. Corin turned, sped around the corner where he knew the cliff waited. Close behind, Krugan and the other three gave chase.
Twas scarce ten yards. Corin’s long legs gained him seconds. He fled the track, found the gap in the rocks and launched his aching shanks into oblivion. Angry shouts faded from earshot as hot air rushed his ears, and the slime-green ribbon of the river far below, rushed up to meet him…
You can catch up with Corin’s more serious adventures in the Legends of Ansu Series. Here’s a link to the books on Amazon.com
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