This story originally appears in Tales of Scottish Landmarks by Stuart McHardy
About 18 miles north east of Perth lies the wee Strathmore village of Meigle. All too easily ignored by the traffic going to and from the North-east this little place contains real treasure for those interested in the ancient culture of Scotland.
The 8ft Tall Meigle 2 Pictish Standing Stone known locally as Vanora’s Stone
The old school next to the kirk on the Dundee road has been made into a museum unlike any other. It contains a unique and beautiful collection of Pictish symbol stones most of which at one time stood in or near the kirkyard. The others are from the surrounding area. One of these stones has a legend about it that links it with one of the great European literary and mystical themes of all time — the story of Arthur and Guinevere.
The stone known as Vanora’s stone was at one time part of a group of symbol stones that stood in the adjoining kirkyard on what is known as Vanora’s Mound. The name Vanora is a variant of Guinevere and these stones are said to have formed a memorial on the grave of that faithless queen.
On the side of the stone bearing her name is a fine example of a Celtic cross and in the middle of the other side is a gowned figure being attacked by animals. The official guide book tells us that this is a representation of Daniel in the Lions’ Den but local legend, unconcerned with the need to explain everything in our past as being of Christian origin, tells us otherwise.
Some Notes on Arthur as a Pagan Deity
By Eddie Murray
Loch Arthur looking north
This talk grew out of a discussion with Stuart McHardy. When Stuart first mooted the idea of his organising a conference on the historical Scottish Arthur, I suggested that at least some mention should be made of the ‘other’ Arthur, and he agreed.
‘And whence came Arthur?’ asked the writer L. Sprague de Camp:
‘The name is that, not of a mortal man, but of a god. The pre-Christians worshipped a god called Artur by the Irish and Artaius by the Gauls. The name has been variously connected with words for “to plough” (Latin , arare), which makes him a god of agriculture; for “bear” (Greek, arktos) which makes him a bear god; for “black,” which makes him a raven god, and so on. In any case Arthur is, like many other heroes, merely a pagan god transformed into a fictional mortal, with the deeds of some real men attributed to him.’
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Arthur was perhaps originally a Celtic mythological figure who some people have suggested was already thousands of years old by the 6th century AD. He has been seen as representing a totemic figure of the Bear and associated with the Pole Star Ursa Major. What is indisputable is that he occupies a place among the p-Celtic peoples very like that of Finn Mac Coul among the Q-Celtic (Gaelic) speaking peoples of Scotlandd and Ireland. It is potentially this mythological Arthur that is referred to in place names all over southern Scotland, following the tradition of the legends being told in the locale of the audience.
The twelve battles which Arthur is said to have fought all fit with specific Scottish sites particularly those mentioned in contemporary annals and the battle of Badon which has caused so much difficulty for those seeking to show Arthur as having lived in the West of England. Camlaan is quite probably Camelon near Falkirk on the Forth.
Newark Castle in Ettrick Forest, potential location for Arthurian battle Cat Coit Caledon