Pre-Medieval Landscapes in Medieval Court Romance
Assemblage, Issue 8 (2004)
This essay examines the appearance in the early phases of Arthurian literature of landscape features recognisable to modern archaeologists as belonging to earlier periods, both historic and prehistoric. It argues that this is the case principally in those tales derived most closely from Welsh and Breton oral traditions, and postulates the use of a classical-style memory system as a means by which such features may have been preserved in oral tales. Finally it examines the underlying landscape of the tales themselves, with comments on revealed features (frequency and possible origin), comparisons to current interpretations of the past (particularly the Iron Age), and the potential of such ‘recovered’ literary material for the interpretation and reconstruction of past cultures.