Scotland's Merlin: A Medieval Legend and its Dark Age Origins

Front Cover
Birlinn Ltd, May 19, 2016 - History - 200 pages

Who was Merlin? Is the famous wizard of Arthurian legend based on a real person? In this book, Merlin's origins are traced back to the story of Lailoken, a mysterious 'wild man' who is said to have lived in the Scottish Lowlands in the sixth century AD. The book considers the question of whether Lailoken belongs to myth or reality. It looks at the historical background of his story and discusses key characters such as Saint Kentigern of Glasgow and King Rhydderch of Dumbarton, as well as important events such as the Battle of Arfderydd.

Lailoken's reappearance in medieval Welsh literature as the fabled prophet Myrddin is also examined. Myrddin himself was eventually transformed into Merlin the wizard, King Arthur's friend and mentor. This is the Merlin we recognise today, not only in art and literature but also on screen. His earlier forms are less familiar, more remote, but can still be found among the lore and legend of the Dark Ages. Behind them we catch fleeting glimpses of an original figure who perhaps really did exist: a solitary fugitive, tormented by his experience of war, who roamed the hills and forests of southern Scotland long ago.

 

Contents

List of Plates
Myrddin Wyllt
Lailoken
The Battle of Arfderydd
Christianity and Paganism
Wild Man and Seer
Arthuriana
Scottish Merlins
Appendices
Index

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2016)

Tim Clarkson gained a PhD in medieval history (2003) from the University of Manchester. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and a member of the editorial board of the Heroic Age online journal. He is the author many books on medieval history including Scotland's Merlin, The Picts: A History, The Makers of Scotland and Aethelflaed: Lady of the Mercians.

Bibliographic information