Arthurian legend reimagined on stamps: Royal Mail unveils new collection depicting the story of King Arthur and Merlin
- King Arthur story has gripped children and adults for centuries and has been subject of many films and books
- It is now being re-told on a new collection of stamps released by the Royal Mail which are available from today
- They show famous scenes including Arthur drawing the sword from the stone to prove he is rightful king
- In others he is seen marrying his true love Guinevere and fighting his deadly rival Mordred
He is a legendary figure of ancient Britain whose life story is known to young and old alike.
The tale of King Arthur, featuring his faithful companion Sir Lancelot and other Knights of the Round Table has been told for centuries.
But now the story, popularised in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 12th Century work the History of the Kings of Britain, has been retold on a new collection of stamps released by the Royal Mail.
The exquisitely detailed set of illustrated stamps show famous scenes including when a young Arthur draws the sword from the stone to prove he is the true King; when he marries his wife Guinevere; and when he fights his son Mordred.
Also seen is Sir Lancelot during his battle against a dragon, Sir Galahad at the end of his quest for the Holy Grail, and legendary wizard Merlin holding a baby Arthur.
The stamps, both individually and as a set, are available to purchase from today. The illustrations were produced by the artist Jaime Jones.
A presentation pack containing all of the illustrations, plus an explanation of the legend, is being sold by Royal Mail for £13.65.
Philip Parker, of the Royal Mail, said: ‘These atmospheric illustrations bring to life the timeless stories of the King and the Knights of the Round Table.
‘With its themes of magic, chivalry and quests, the enduring legend of King Arthur has entranced for centuries and will continue to do so.’
He is a legendary figure of ancient Britain whose life story is known to young and old alike. The tale of King Arthur, featuring his faithful companion Sir Lancelot and other Knights of the Round Table has been told for centuries. But now the story, popularised in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 12th Century work the History of the Kings of Britain, has been retold on a new collection of stamps released by the Royal Mail. Pictured: The first in the set, baby Arthur being held by the wizard Merlin
The exquisitely detailed set of illustrated stamps show other famous scenes including when a young Arthur draws the sword Excalibur from the stone. The legend says that only Arthur, as the true heir of Uther Pendragon could pull the sword from the stone
Another version of the story sees the Lady of the Lake hand Arthur Excalibur, as shown on the above new stamp. One story says he was given the sword by the Lady of the Lake after his own weapon was damaged in a fight against rival King Pellinore
The stamps, both individually and as a set, are available to purchase from today. A presentation pack containing all of the illustrations, plus an explanation of the legend, is being sold by Royal Mail for £13.65. Pictured: A depiction of Arthur’s marriage to Guinevere. Successive stories recount that Sir Lancelot had an affair with Guinevere
Philip Parker, of the Royal Mail, said: ‘These atmospheric illustrations bring to life the timeless stories of the King and the Knights of the Round Table. With its themes of magic, chivalry and quests, the enduring legend of King Arthur has entranced for centuries and will continue to do so.’ Pictured: One of the best known Arthurian stories is that of knight Sir Gawain’s beheading of the Green Knight. The Green Knight dared any fighter to strike him if he would accept a return blow in a year and a day
The Knights of the Round Table were the knights who followed King Arthur, the legend claims. The men were said to be dedicated to keeping the peace in Arthur’s kingdom. The table at which the soldiers is meet is said to be a symbol of their equality. The knights include Sir Lancelot, Galahad and Gawain
In many Arthurian stories, Sir Lancelot is said to have carried out many great deeds, including the slaying of dragons
Sir Galahad, the pure knight, is depicted as the epitome of perfection among Round Table knights, and is seen as the opposite of his father, Lancelot. His unique success in the quest for the Holy Grail reveals the moral failures of Arthurian chivalry. Pictured: Sir Galahad is seen at the end of his quest for the grail
Some versions of the Arthurian legend say that Arthur was killed in a fight against his son Mordred at the Battle of Camlann. Mordred is also said to have died in the fight. In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work, Mordred is depicted as Arthur’s treacherous nephew. However, later versions of the story depict him as Arthur’s illegitimate son
After being mortally wounded in battle, Arthur is depicted by artist Jaime Jones during his journey to the Isle of Avalon, where some versions of the legend say he was taken to be healed, but was never seen again. Travelling with him are three queens, who Jones says represent hope for the king’s return
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE LEGEND OF KING ARTHUR?
The story of King Arthur is known to children and adults alike.
But the facts around the legendary figure are mired in myth and folklore and historians generally agree that Arthur himself probably did not exist.
Instead, it is believed he may have been a composite of multiple people.
Whilst there are many version of the Arthur legend, some common threads run through them.
They stem from 12th Century figure Geoffrey of Monmouth’s fanciful and largely fictional work Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain).
In 410 AD, the Romans pulled their troops out of Britain and, with the loss of their authority, local chieftans and kings competed for land.
In 449 AD, King Vortigern invited the Angles and Saxons to settle in Kent in order to help him fight the Picts and the Scots.
Guinevere leading a wounded Lancelot from The Rochefoucauld Grail. The illuminated 14th century manuscript containing what is believed to be the oldest surviving account of the legends of King Arthur
However, the Angles and Saxons betrayed Vortigern at a peace council where they drew their knives and killed 460 British chiefs.
The massacre was called the Night of the Long Knives, which, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, occurred at a monastery on the Salisbury Plain.
Geoffrey claims that Ambrosius Aurelianus became King and consulted the wizard Merlin to help him select an appropriate monument to raise in honour of the dead chieftains.
Merlin suggested that the King’s Ring from Mount Killarus in Ireland be dismantled and brought to England.
The king’s brother and Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon, led an expedition of soldiers to bring the stones from Ireland to England.
Merlin magically reconstructed the stones as Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain around the burials of the dead British chieftains in the monastery cemetery.
Other legends say Arthur was born at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall and was taken by Merlin to be raised by Sir Ector.
Shortly thereafter, civil war broke out in England and Uther Pendragon was killed.
When Arthur was a young boy, the popular narrative says he drew a sword called Caliburn from a stone.
Some legends say Arthur was born at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall and was taken by Merlin to be raised by Sir Ector.
One version of the legend states that the sword was made at Avalon from a sarsen stone that originated either from Avebury or Stonehenge.
It was said that whoever drew the sword from the stone was the true King of England.
Arthur was then said to have been crowned as King in the ruins of the Roman fort at Caerleon in Wales.
In another version of the story, King Ambrosius Aurelianus led a battle against the Saxons at Badon Hill.
Aurelianus was killed and his nephew, Arthur, took control of the soldiers and won the battle.
Later, Arthur lost Caliburn in a fight with Sir Pellinore but was saved by Merlin’s magic.
Arthur received a new sword (Excalibur) and a scabbard from Nimue, the Lady in the Lake at Avalon.
The scabbard was magical and as long as Arthur wore it, he could not die.
Arthur had three half-sisters who are sometimes referred to as sorceresses.
Arthur fell in love with Morgana, not knowing that she was his half-sister and they had a son named Mordred.
When Arthur discovered the truth, he was horrified and ordered all male infants born at the same time as his son to be brought to Caerleon.
The babies were put onto an unattended ship and set out to sea, which crashed on some rocks and sank.
Film, ‘King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword’, (2017)Jude Law’s sneering Vortigern
Mordred survived the sinking of the ship and was found by a man walking on the shore and taken home.
Arthur fell in love again with a woman named Guinevere who was the daughter of King Lodegrance of Camylarde.
They married and her dowry included a round table and many knights. Arthur established his court at Camelot
The round table became a symbol of equality amongst his knights, for no knight was seated in a position superior to another.
In addition, a mealtime rule at the table was that no one could eat until they told a story of daring.
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