2004 Student Research Conference:
17th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

The Legend of King Arthur's Tomb: The Role of Insular Culture in the Creation of English National Identity
Sharity D. Nelson
Dr. Christine Harker, Faculty Mentor

Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset, England, is the site of the purported discovery in 1191 of King Arthur's burial spot. A true discovery or a money-making ploy aside, the event is an example of the influence of Celtic culture upon the formation of an English national identity. The Anglo-Norman aristocracy of England in the late 12th century was beginning to recognize the value of the heroic insular past of Britain in creating a pedigree that would legitimize the Norman rule over Britain. Prompted by Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, Anglo-Normans championed Arthur as their predecessor and simultaneously made Celtic tradition a legitimate cultural expression. Thus, the Celtic influence prompted the monks to claim Glastonbury as Arthur's final resting place. The Glastonbury discovery followed the trend to associate with a Celtic past, lending the Abbey a worthy and ancient history in Britain as well as means to generate income.

Keywords: Glastonbury Abbey, King Arthur, National Identity, Celtic influence, Norman ascendancy, Geoffrey of Monmouth, heroic past, legitimate rule


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 8-4
Location: VH 1320
Time: 9:15

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