The majority of those travellers that I met in Winchester back then were fascinated by the legend of King Arthur.
Similar to me, they had decided to start their journey in the ancient capital of England, but were as much drawn there by the legend of The Round Table and The Great Hall.
Perhaps a little sadly, I discovered 15 years later that these aspects of the legend were more born from the hopeful imagination of one Thomas Malory and a book he wrote “Le Mort d’Arthur”, telling the courtly deeds of the king and his knights – and incorrectly basing the legends there rather than 100 miles to the West in either Somerset or Wales (as even his printer, Caxton, is supposed to have suggested).
Still, the legend is over 1500 years old about someone who rose to lead the British people to defeat their Saxon overlords at The Battle of Mt. Badon – but what resonates is more than just the distant sound of a battle cry, and more that of moving to the beat of a drummer different to that of more traditional leaders who had led people to battle through threat of force and press gangs.
So how and what made the beat of this leader’s drum different to that of any other – and even to the extent that it is heard today?
The story seems to centre on the virtues of genuine nobility in performing deeds of selflessness that assist others and treat everyone courteously, if not equally.
Moreover, the legend of Arthur instigated the hope for anyone to attain the heady heights of nobility and become a knight, something which is reflected in the ceremonies on the Queen’s birthday when someone is recognised for their achievements and contribution to society.
It perhaps goes beyond that though, to the acceptance of both an individual person’s rights to achieve and believe – perhaps leading to, at a minimum, the opportunity for every Englishman to have their own castle (as is now possible with freehold as opposed to leasehold property). OK, so I have to do a little more research into whether all these good things – and more – stem from the virtues and values of the good King Arthur.
Que sera though, the legend lives on and the principles serve to inspire all of us to better and greater things – and good deeds as much as acquisition of resources.
How much more is needed than that though? This seems to be the thing I am discovering from the intersection of the two roads, from Camelot to Canterbury. Indeed, from whence to where does the direction go? Perhaps it is now more back towards Camelot in this more ethically oriented and sustainable world we now live in – where things are, perhaps rightly, focused on what matters for helping the individual as well as the environment in being the best they can be. What more do we really need and want beyond that?