Desperately Seeking King Arthur: History, Myth and Tourism
Lecture by Susan Aronstein
Given at Sublette County Library on September 27, 2018
King Arthur is good business. The monks at Glastonbury Abbey knew this in 1191 when they “discovered” Arthur’s tomb; the Earl of Cornwall knew it in 1233 when he built Tintagel Castle on a rocky coast with no value beside its connection to a mythical king. Medieval and modern tourists want to step into Camelot’s story—to draw the sword from the stone, to battle might with right, to seek the grail. Arthur belongs to the mythos that makes England a preferred destination for American tourists. This talk examined two towns, Glastonbury and Tintagel, that have blurred the lines between history and legend to offer tourists a “real” King Arthur. Aronstein looked at how their connections to Arthur have transformed their landscapes and economy, and at how they exemplify the increasing role that Heritage tourism in general plays in shaping British identity.
Susan Aronstein is Professor of English at University of Wyoming. .
Top Image: The ruin of St Michael’s Tower, Glastonbury. Photo by Into Somerset / Flickr