Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Few Words with Adam Ardrey, author of FINDING MERLIN

Adam Ardrey, author of the just released Finding Merlin, takes a few questions about the truth behind the legend of the great Arthurian mage.

We know that you stumbled into the Merlin story while doing some research into your family background. But what inspired you to keep pulling threads?
I ‘kept pulling threads’ because I kept finding answers that produced more questions &c.&c. When, as a (young, idealistic) criminal lawyer I looked into clients cases – as they do on TV – I tended to find even more evidence that they were guilty. When investigating for Finding Merlin I kept finding more evidence that corroborated my view that Merlin and Arthur were men of 6th c. Scotland. I decided to stop when the evidence stopped – it never has...’ When I found out what ‘They’ had done - taken Merlin, a druid of the old way and neutered him by making him an old wizard and taken Arthur, the martial champion of the old way, and made him a cuckold and worse a Christian King, none of which things they ever were, all for their own power and profit - wild horses could not have dragged me away from my books.

What do you think will most surprise your readers about Merlin the man?
He was real man. Born Cadzow, Hamilton, Scotland, 540CE. Assassinated Drumelzier-Dunipace c. 518. He was a twin. Of Gwyneth, known as Languoreth, The Lioness of Damnonia, The Swan-Necked Woman, The Golden One. She was the smart one but she was all but written out of History because she was a woman. (Languoreth is my favourite.) He was a Druid. Druids were not hairy madmen but the equivalent of a professional class; some were religious leaders, others, like Merlin (which means Mad Man) were scholars and politicians.

Merlin has been commonly described as a wizard, a madman, or a Christian. In FINDING MERLIN, you take the stance that Merlin was none of these things, and is in fact a real historical figure--a high-profile and relevant figure, too. So how did this disparity between reality and fiction come about?
The winners write the history. The winners were the Christian Church and a primogeniture-based Monarchial system. (a) The Church & State tried to kill the memory of Merlin and Arthur but, although they controlled the main media (the written word) stories of Merlin and Arthur lived on in the oral tradition. After the advent of printing and the consequent demise of the oral tradition Arthur was fictionalized as an English Christian King, although he was none of these things, and Merlin presented as an avuncular wizard (he was too closely associated with the old way to be held out as a Christian. Malory says the idea of the sword and the stone idea was Merlin’s but that it took place under the aegis of a Christian Archbishop – it was too dangerous to write of a king chosen without the authority of the Church. (b) In 638, about twenty years after the death of Merlin, about fifty years after the death of Arthur, the Angles burst from their beachhead on the east coast of Britain, on the Scotland-England border, and captured Edinburgh (where the rock Arthur’s Seat stands today). Many of the British people who lived there headed south, to what is now England and Wales, as refugees. They did not sit about in the evenings talking about their defeat at the hands of the Angles – no chance. They boasted of when, in the 580s, under Arthur and Merlin, they had defeated the Angles in battle after battle. The Angles expanded west and so we have Angle-land, England. The Britons of the south were pressed into Wales and the southwest of England, and it is from these places that the stories of Arthur, written by Geoffrey of Monmouth and Thomas Malory sprang. They did not originate there, they were simply written down there. The Scottish written sources were deliberately destroyed by the English in our Wars of Independence c.1296-1329. (c) Ever since 638 whoever has conquered England (Scotland has never been conquered) has striven to associate themselves with the story of Arthur and Merlin. Edward III built a Round Table in 14th c. Henry VII, a usurper, sought respectability by calling his first son Arthur. The present ‘Royal’ family have tried to bolster their British credentials, at the expense of their German origins, by giving the present Prince of Wales, Charles, the middle name Arthur. The Story of Merlin is part of the British and the American ‘foundation myth’ and it is a lie.

How much, if any, of your book is speculation based on information from primary sources?
All history is speculation. My history is consistent with the evidence. The traditional histories are not. e.g. How does come Merlin to appear in the 12th c. Life of Kentigern (Saint Mungo of Glasgow)? The traditional histories say maybe there were two Merlins; maybe there was some confusion and the reference was not really to Merlin; maybe the reference was to Merlin but he was only placed in the Life of Kentigern to give spice it up. I say Merlin was in a story set in Glasgow because he lived in Glasgow – Duh!

What do you hope people will learn and/or take away from reading your book?
All we need to believe in is each other. (I know I should just leave it at that but … I’m sorry … I can’t. From Pericles to the Antonines we were doing well, reason-based learning was flourishing and, consequently, individual freedom was increasing. Then, the Roman Empire fell and the religious people took over and we entered a thousand year dark age. I hope, among other things, that people might realize what might happen if – and here I eschew any pretence at subtlety – the USA should fail in its fight against the forces of un-reason, at home and abroad.)


Anonymous said...

Well this is for Adam Ardrey...excellent book on Merlin and one that seems very convincing! As long as someone takes the initiative to write their historical intrepretation there is hope that what was will somehow be kept alive and prevent us from another 1000 years of dark ages. Jeff Piccinini (filmmaker, director of photography, musician & Roman history buff)

Perrisoft said...