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23 22 ARThURIAN LeGeND and the quest for the holy grail From those early times the Legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round table has developed and grown like that of no other national hero. Volumes of literature have been written about Arthur and camelot and the Quest for the Holy Grail not just in england but many other countries. certainly the vast bulk of this great corpus of Arthurian legend is romanticised fiction, but it is quite probable that this was based on an historic tribal leader. the name Arthur is from the Welsh term for great bear . camelot is thought to have been the prominent Iron Age hillfort cadbury castle which lies 11 miles to the southeast of Glastonbury. According to legend, this was the site of King Arthur s palace and his Round table. the Holy Grail, favourite subject of Arthurian quest, was supposedly the chalice used at the Last supper and to catch the blood of christ when he was speared upon the cross. st Joseph of Arimathea is said to have brought this vessel, which had miraculous powers, to Glastonbury and it was buried by him under chalice Hill between the abbey and the tor. the quest for the Grail is ultimately the journey of the seeker aftertruth, and the importance of spiritual purity in such pursuits is emphasised again and again in the later Arthurian literature. Left A replica of Arthur s Round Table from the Great Hall in Winchester. Below and opposite Cadbury Castle, sup posed site of Camelot. The quest for the Grail was first described by Chrtien de Troyes. He tells the story of Sir Perceval , one of Arthur s knights, who sees the Grail carried in a procession at the palace of the Fisher King. Only the simple Perceval and the saintly Sir Galahad can look on the Grail, shining with the divine light, without discomfort. In Old French graal , or san greal , means Holy Grail while sang real means royal blood later writers played on this pun.
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