Tales of Britain

By Jem Roberts

The finest, funniest stories of England, Scotland & Wales, refreshed for the 21st century. By Brother Bernard, as told to Jem Roberts.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Over The Hill


To celebrate, we have a double birthday-themed blog to close Spring 2019 – as it was on Brother Bernard's 40th birthday last year that we visited TINTAGEL, the site of King Arthur's birth!

But first, we just want to say thank you to everybody who enjoyed any of the 17 stories (and the one couple who enjoyed them all) performed to kick off the Ludlow Fringe last week. As you can see from from: https://twitter.com/TalesofBritain/status/1139932381375279105 it was a challenging day, but worth all the effort.

Besides plans for a new Halloween show in Bath, we now have nothing booked in besides honouring your pledges to come and perform Tales in Winsham (Saturday 29th), and Peterborough and Cheltenham (TBC – get in touch and let us know your plans!), so if you would like a storytelling show at your festival, fete, school, venue, theatre or whatever – just give us a shout! If we can get there and break even, we'll do it!

Now you may have seen this news story about Tintagel this week, and the final completion of a 21st century bridge where once visitors to the ancient Cornish fort would have approached the mighty Medieval – perhaps even Romano-British – castle via land bridge. On our birthday visit last year, we had to join the tourists completing the shockingly exhausting trips up and down the cliffs, with each step about a yard high, so by the time we were back in the village, it honestly felt like we'd had three gym sessions one after another. Now we can't wait to get back and see how the bridge alters the experience – though we hope the 'timed tickets' thing doesn't extend to rushing folk as they explore the main part of the castle, idling in Tristan & Isolde's garden was one of the pleasures of our visit, and takes all the time you want to enjoy to the full.

Obviously the castle appears in two of our Tales, in the book – it's the court of King Mark in Tristan & Isolde, but we primarily chose it as the location for The Sword In The Stone, opening with a retelling of the undeniably sordid legend of King Arthur's criminal conception, and then setting the rest of the narrative up the road, in Tintagel village. 

In truth – or something a little like the truth – Tintagel perhaps has more of a grip on the real history of Tristan & Isolde (Or Drustan and Ousilla if you have any faith in Fowey's Tristan Stone) than on Arthurian lore, not least as the two Tales are so close together in Britain's historical record that surely both can't have any basis in reality. But as it's a birthday theme, let's hear three cheers and blow out some candles for Arthur!

Oh and should you be wondering, for his 41st birthday, Brother Bernard scaled Old Sodbury in South Gloucestershire – a pretty village, but a pointless visit, hillfort-wise, it's a barely accessible mess of nettles and cowpats, with some lovely views, but zero to mark any kind of historical or folkloric interest. Just to save you the trip!

Now, Folklore Thursday – time for the bumps!

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