King Arthur – The son of Uther Pendragon, King Arthur is the king of Britain. In addition to being a great warrior, he is wise and thoughtful ruler. He prefers to find peaceful solutions to problems rather than fighting. Arthur is able to appreciate the viewpoints of other people and this helps him to find other solutions.
Merlin – Merlin is a legendary wizard of considerable intelligence and power. Merlin wants the best for the land of Britain but does not want to rule, knowing that a warrior is needed to unite the kingdom. Merlin was an advisor to King Uther Pendragon before advising King Arthur. Merlin was able to use magic to prove that Arthur was the king of the Britains. Later, he was able to communicate with people from another world and provide Arthur with the magical sword, Excalibur. Merlin looks like an old man with a flowing white beard.
Queen Guinevere – Guinevere is the wife of King Arthur. Her name means “The White Enchantress” or “The White Ghost”; a name given to her because of her pale white skin. Although she loves King Arthur, she grows to love Sir Lancelot. This betrayal of Arthur eventually leads to quarrels and fights amongst the knights of the round table and eventually ends Camelot.
Sir Lancelot – Lancelot is the bravest and most skilled Knight of the Round Table. A talented swordsman and jouster, Lancelot is also Arthur’s greatest friend. When Lancelot falls in love with Guinevere, this leads to civil war and brings about the end of King Arthur’s kingdom.
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Morgan le Fay – Morgan le Fay is a powerful sorceress whose powers are almost equal to Merlin’s. Morgan le Fay is Arthur’s half sister, being the youngest daughter of Igraine, Arthur’s mother, and Igraine’s first husband, Gorlois. Morgan le Fay becomes an apprentice of Merlin’s, hiding the fact that she holds a special hatred for King Arthur. Her schemes help to bring about the end of Arthur’s kingdom.
Mordred – King Arthur’s traitorous nephew is the son of Morgan le Fay. Mordred was knighted by Arthur and became a Knight of the Round Table, all the while hiding his hatred of Arthur. Mordred brings about the civil war in Camelot and uses this to make himself King of Britain. At the Battle of Camlann, Mordred is slain by King Arthur and, in dying, mortally wounds the king.
Sir Gawain – A member of the Round Table, Gawain is one of the greatest knights and is a close friend of King Arthur. He is a brave and honourable, yet caring knight. Fiercely loyal to King Arthur, Gawain is a defender of the poor. Gawain has a strong friendship with Sir Lancelot, but during the civil war, the two become bitter enemies.
Sir Galahad – The son of Sir Lancelot, it was prophesied that Galaghad would one day become the greatest knight in the world. When Galahad becomes a grown man, he is reunited with Lancelot and knighted by him after defeating him in combat. Galahad is taken to the Round Table, where a seat is unveiled. The Siege Perilous is a seat that has remained vacant and kept for the greatest knight – the one who would succeed in a quest for the Holy Grail. Galahad leads a noble and sinless knight. He has the strength of ten men and has a pure heart.
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Magical creatures The legends of Camelot are populated with magical and mysterious creatures. Some of them fight for good but some are opposed to Arthur and his knights.
The Green Knight – With green skin and green armour, this character is one of the more mysterious characters from Arthurian legends. His true name is Bertilak de Hautdesert. Morgan le Fay transforms him into the Green Knight to test Arthur’s court. The Green Knight is a champion of Arthur’s. He is a judge and tester of knights. He is considered to be friendly but terrifying.
The Black Knight – The supernatural knight wears black armour and bears a black shield. His armour is without a crest to demonstrate that he shows loyalty to no lord. He fights against the knights of Camelot.
Nimue – The Lady of the Lake is the one who gives Arthur the magical sword Excalibur. Merlin loves Nimue but she makes him promise to teach her all of his magical secrets. Once he has taught her these, Nimue seals him forever in the trunk of a hawthorn tree. Merlin’s powers of foresight enabled him to see this event happening. However, seeing the future means that he is unable to change it and so Merlin teaches Nimue his magical arts, knowing that she will betray him.
The Questing Beast – This monster has the head and neck of a snake, the body of a leopard, the haunches of a lion and the feet of a hart. The monster’s name comes from the fact that it makes a sound like thirty hounds questing. Many knights have been trained to hunt the beast.
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The Faerie Women – The faeries of Arthurian legend rule a mystical land. They have learnt the ability to change shape and can also fly. The faerie people can live for a hundred years or more. Having learnt the useful properties of herbs, they are able to cure sick bodies. When Arthur is mortally wounded, he is taken to the faerie women who promise that they can return him to health provided he stay there long enough.
Dragons – Flying, fire-breathing dragons feature in some Arthurian legends. Sir Lancelot, the most famous of Arthur’s knights, slayed a dragon. Dragons famously terrorise villages. To appease a dragon, villagers might offer up young women as a sacrifice.
Camelot – The city of Camelot is the capital of King Arthur’s lands. It stands along a river and is surrounded by plains and forests. A mighty castle, holding the round table is at the centre of Camelot. Also there are the tombs of many kings and knights. In a meadow outside the city, jousts are held.
Avalon – This magical land is one of many Otherworlds. Here, the sword Excalibur was made. After Arthur receives a mortal wound in battle, he is taken to Avalon. Some believe that he will miraculously recover from his wounds here and then return to the world of men in the time of Britain’s greatest need. Avalon is the place where the faerie realm can most easily be found from our world.
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The Round Table – At Arthur’s castle in Camelot is the legendary Round Table. Because the table is round it has no head, meaning that anybody who sits around it has equal status. Arthur created it to avoid quarrels amongst his knights where one would not accept a lower place than another. The table is round in the “likeness of the world”. Once it was constructed, a call went out to the bravest and truest knights to join the Round Table. Those seated at the table had the task of caring for the weak, the poor and the unfortunate. They would never do harm to anybody who did not deserve it. Up to 150 knights could sit at the Round Table. One seat at the table was the Siege Perilous, a place kept vacant until the bravest and truest of all knights could be seated there.
Magical artefacts Many of the Arthurian legends involve magical items. Here are seven enchanted items which could be included in your story. Alternatively, you could give magical properties to a weapon, piece of armour or other medieval artefact.
Excalibur – Excalibur, also known as Caliburn, is a sword of power which should be wielded in the best interests of the people and not in the interest of the king. The sword was not forged in this world, but in another. It was given to King Arthur by the mysterious Lady of the Lake. When Arthur is mortally wounded in the battlefield, he asks one of his knights to hurl the sword into the waters of the lake. The knight does not see the sense in this and fails to do so. When Arthur asks what has happened to the sword, the knight replies that the blade disappeared beneath the waters. Knowing that the knight lies, Arthur insists that the knight returns to carry out the deed. This time the knight hurls the sword into the lake and it is caught by the hand of the Lady of the Lake before descending beneath the waters.
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Carnwennan – this dagger was owned by King Arthur. It has the magical power to shroud anyone who wields it in shadow. King Arthur used this dagger to slay the witch Orddu by slicing her in half.
The Holy Grail – the Grail had healing properties and could also provide an endless supply of divine food. Near the end of Arthur’s rule, his knights embark on a quest to find the Holy Grail. Only Sir Galahad is pure and noble enough to find it.
The Shield of the Dragon Knight – In the middle of this shield is a dragon’s head that breathes fire.
The Ring of Disspell – the Lady of the Lake gave this ring to Sir Lancelot. It could be used to break any spell.
The Stone of Giramphiel – Sir Gawain won this stone from another knight, Fimbeus, after defeating him. The stone was able to protect Gawain from the flame of a dragon and the magic of a wizard.
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The Code of Chivalry The Knights of the Round Table were honour bound to follow the rules in this code at all times. Sometimes this made life difficult for them. What do you think these rules mean?
To fear God and maintain To guard the honour His Church of fellow knights
To serve the liege lord To eschew unfairness, in valour and faith meanness and deceit
To protect the weak To keep faith and defenceless
To give succour to widows At all times to speak the and orphans truth
To refrain from the wanton To persevere to the end giving of offence in any enterprise begun
To live by honour and To respect the for glory honour of women
Never to refuse a challenge To despise pecuniary from an equal reward
Never to turn the back To fight for the welfare of upon a foe all
To obey those placed in authority
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Story ideas What Arthurian legends will you tell? Remember, your story could be a missing legend, occuring at any point after King Arthur’s birth and before his wounding at the Battle of Camlann. You might want to use one or more of these ideas in your writing.
The Quest – Arthur’s knights often undertook quests – these were long, difficult searches for something. This might be to recover a lost magical artefact or to find and kill a terrible monster.
If your hero was sent on a quest, what would they be asked to find?
Chivalry – Arthur and his knights were often bound by the rules of chivalry. They needed to act honourably and had to keep any promise they made. Sometimes, it was difficult to keep those promises. Occasionally, in return for a magical item or a service, a knight might make a promise to carry out a deed or quest in the future without being told what that deed might be. At other times, a king might need to carry out a promise which conflicts with another promise they have already made.
If your hero made a promise what would it be? How difficult would they find it?
Prophecy – Merlin and other sorcerers had the power to see into the future. Merlin saw the death of Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon, and even foresaw that Nimue would trap him in the trunk of a tree. However, once a future had been foreseen, it could not be changed.
What events in the future might your heroes see? What would they do because of this?
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Magical items or monsters – Many of the legends feature magical items such as swords or armour. They might also feature fantastical creatures or monsters, like shape-shifting faeries, green knights or dragons.
Could your story include any of these?
What you might find in an Arthurian legend - Although the Arthurian legends take place in a land of magical swords, dragons and spells, this does not mean that anything can happen. Consider what might be found in this magical, medieval setting and what couldn’t.
Would trolls or goblins feel at home here? What about aliens from another planet?
What will you include in your tale so that it reads like a missing Arthurian legend?
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What will your story be about?
Who will feature in your tale?
What will be the problem? Events Write down 5 key events that will happen in your story
2) What will you include so that your story reads like a missing 3) Arthurian legend?
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