Tag Archives: Sir Bors

In search of King Arthur in sand-swept Pennard

Image of Pennard Castle

The lonely, sand swept walls of Pennard Castle, Glamorganshire, here showing the twin-towered gatehouse.

To come from the seas,      across sandy shoals,

By boat on the waves     to beach at Pennard

Lets all see a castle     so grand and serene

That folk are at once     all won over with joy!

When I was a knight     in these lands long ago

I came to this place     so proud on my horse

And jousted with jollity     in jaunts with my friends

In front of King Arthur,     the fairest of all,

And lovely Waynor     with her wondrous grey eyes.

With Sir Bors and Sir Lucan,     boystrous and bold,

And also Sir Lancelot     that most skilful at tourney,

I fought in the field     with my lady’s sleeve

As a token of truth     in telling of my love.

The banners all blue     and those others so bright

Did fly in the wind      afloat and a-flutter

With silks all soft blowing     which I myself saw.

By those walls on those cliffs     all those knights made a clatter

As hoof and hard armour     all hammered at once

And cheers rose in chanting     with every man’s challenge

Until at the close     when a champion was called.

But those days are now done,     they have drawn to a close,

Which once bore brave witness     to chivalry wondrous;

The winds which blew banners     have now brought just sand

And that castle I knew     has all crumbled and cracked.

Where Arthur watched from,     those walls are all wracked

That once saw that fighting     in those long-off days

And the land and the village     and all those loyal folk

Have all dwindled and gone     as the sand drowned them all in

its way.

We look upon that fort

So strong in Arthur’s day;

It is sadly now but nought

And his knights all gone away.

About Pennard Castle…

Pennard Castle on the Gower Peninsula is a small stone castle, built on a former ring work castle. It is lightly-built but in a commanding site which safe-guarded access to the land below it, in particular the valley of the Pennard Pill which advances inland from the beach. According to Cathcart-King, it is first mentioned in 1322; the remains today comprise the remnants of a twin-towered gatehouse, a small round mural tower, a larger square tower, a section of wall and the foundations of the great hall. The life of the castle was short, succumbing to the incursion of sand dunes in the fourteenth century which also led to the decline and then desertion of the neighbouring village. In his evocative, if somewhat inaccurate description of the ruins (and their cause) in the 1920s, CWC Oman states, with a somewhat laconic air, “It is a melancholy site, half filled with drifting sand; for though it stands on a rock, the wind has piled it deep with fine detritus from the neighbouring golf links – where may be seen the only signs of life in this rather depressing corner of the peninsula”. 

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Image of King Arthur

Support a new translation of the Alliterative Morte Arthure (King Arthur’s Death)

Arthurians and others with an interest – this blog is written in the style of the fourteenth century alliterative poets.

I am currently crowdfunding my second book through Unbound, in this case the Alliterative Morte Arthure (King Arthur’s Death), written by an unknown hand in c.1400.

If you would like to pledge for your own limited edition copy, with your own name in the back as a supporter, please click here.

More images of Pennard Castle…

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Filed under British History, British Landscape, Castles, Castles of Wales, Gawain and the Green Knight, Historic places to visit in Britain, King Arthur, South Wales, Touring Britain, Welsh History

A trip to Newport in Essex

Le Gringalet at Newport

Le Gringalet views Newport Church – what beauty lies within!

Le Gringalet took me today on a rural ride into north east Essex to survey our lands there. Beyond Stane Street, the country becomes more rolling and the lanes more secret. The countryside is ancient here, holding the stories of the centuries and telling them in quiet places.

One such place is Newport in Essex, east of the ancient Norman settlement of Clavering and just south of the saffron town of Walden, lying off the high road to Cambridge. When I knew it, it was a market town but these days, with the passing of time, it carries forth its trade in different ways.

For the unititiated, Newport hosts pleasant surprises but, as always, you must seek them – taking time to stop, to think and to absorb. One such place is the Church of St Mary the Virgin.

Since last I was this way in the 1550s, the Church has changed slightly – I feel sure the tower is different to how I remember it – and inside there are few of the decorations that once adorned the walls.

That said, reader, kneel in submission to the Lord and turn your eyes to the sky and there you will be greeted by a host of angels, carved in oak. They are a host in the heavens.

But what pleased me most was the movable altar there – a site I recall from my last visit here centuries ago – although it has been ravaged by time since then. But close study, dear reader, still repays: I believe it was made in the 1200s and though it has lost much decoration it dazzles like a jewel.

The carving on the front and sides is ornate, although it is with sorrow I report that the shields of illustrious knights which once bedecked it have long gone. No more Sir Bors, Sir Kay, Sir Galahad and my fellow knights, just hollow indentations. And yet, in our imaginations dear reader, we can make our own armorial bearings. We can festoon the blanks with colours and hues as bright as any battlefield.

Newport details of Reredos

The exquisite reredos on the portable altar at Newport church

Yet what pleased me most was the painted reredos. Of course, it is many years since I have seen it but the images are as clear now as they were then – dulled with time yes but as exquisite and as beautiful as they day they were first painted.

It is strange that on our journey through life we often miss those things which can enhance our experience beyond the humdrum and everyday.

If you pass through Newport, dear reader, fail not to enter the Church and partake of the joy you will find within its walls. You will not regret your experience.

New Book by the Author: Michael Smith’s new translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight will be published in July 2018. To pre-order your special collector’s limited first edition – with your name in the back – please click here

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Filed under British History, Historic places to visit in Britain, Historic towns of Britain, Newport, Sir Gawain and Le Gringalet, Touring Britain