Camelot in Cockfosters?
London's Camelot and the Secrets of the Grail
By Chris Street
In Morte D’Arthur, Sir Thomas Mallory seemed convinced that Winchester was Camelot. His printer Caxton cheekily added a note to the book to inform readers that Camelot was actually Caerleon in Wales. John Leland added Cadbury Castle to the list in the sixteenth century. Now there is another contender for the site of Arthur’s legendary Court, this time in North London, at the far end of the Piccadilly Line.
Yes, I know it sounds rather far-fetched, but all the evidence (and there is plenty of it) indicates that a real Camelot once existed at the very centre of Enfield Chase, the Royal Hunting Ground of the Plantagenet Kings.
Today it is still there, hidden in woods on the fringe of Trent Country Park, and known as Camlet Moat.
Archaeological digs have been conducted, back in the 1880s and again in 1923 and some interesting finds were unearthed. They suggest a substantial structure with stone walls over five and a half feet thick, a massive drawbridge 38ft long and a subterranean dungeon. Sounds like a castle, doesn’t it? Smaller relics from the Roman period suggest the site is originally of impressive antiquity.
Most local historians have not made the Camelot connection because they seem to have decided that the name was simply inspired by the Arthurian legends. Rather a hasty conclusion since facts don’t bear it out.
The earliest mention of the Camelot name here dates from 1439, when, ironically, Camelot Manor was demolished. That’s forty years before Mallory’s Morte D’Arthur was printed. Local folklore tells us the name dates back a further three hundred years to the time of William the Conqueror, which is nearly a hundred years before the name Camelot first appeared in Chretien de Troyes Arthurian Romances in 1170.
To top them all, at least one leading expert on the etymology of local place names is on record as stating that the name Camelot here is “indisputably of Celtic origin.”
That places it over a two thousand years old, at the very least, and more than a thousand years before the mediaeval Dan Browns started writing about any kind of Camelot.
It is therefore likely the name came from the place itself, so this could be a real Camelot, not a mythical one.
Its lengthy connections to Royalty mean it may even been a location used by, or at least known to, a real warrior King of the ancient Britons. Whether it was ever used by King Arthur, is open to debate, but it is certainly a possibility.
The site also has some intriguing associations with the Grail Legends and is as much a place of magic and mystery as the mythical Camelot.
A cross bearing the name of King Arthur was found nearby and a map drawn by a prominent member of an occult “secret society” shows Camelot at this location rather than the more accepted sites, like Tintagel, Cadbury Castle or Camulodunum.
It has a Holy Well, where apparitions of a Guinevere-like “White Lady” or “Grail Maiden” have been reported and it is regarded as a place of healing, vision and inspiration by many visitors.
The mystical atmosphere here may be fuelled by the fact that it is a crossing point of many ley energy lines and was one of the first sites that triggered the Earthstars discovery – an amazing pattern of sacred geometry linking many of London’s most ancient sacred sites.
London’s Camelot and The Secrets of The Grail is a book that readers approach sceptically, suspecting a flawed hypothesis, but as the evidence stacks up, you fall goggle-eyed under its enchantment. If you actually visit the place, this may happen literally. Speaking from personal experience, the atmosphere of the site is haunting and other-wordly.
Crossing the moat to the island sometimes feels like stepping through a portal to another realm. Personally, I believe it is the location of an inner-world grail castle and an oracular shrine of considerable antiquity.
Astonishingly, the location of Arthur’s Sword in the Stone also seems to have been in London. This was as much as surprise to me as anyone else. I merely followed clues clearly spelled out in the works of Sir Thomas Mallory. A little research combined with some obscure knowledge of London’s ancient sites unearthed some convincing evidence that the stone actually once stood where Mallory said it did. Amazingly, it may still exist nearby, built into a wall, and like London’s Camelot, has largely been unnoticed and ignored for centuries.
This book is not just about Camelot. It is about a secret mystery-school tradition concealed within the Arthurian Romances. The Arthurian/Grail legends were the Da Vinci Code of their day. They embody a mystery and a living tradition of wisdom and knowledge which is particular to Britain and encoded in the land and its sacred sites. Places like this over-looked and long forgotten Camelot.
London’s Camelot and The Secrets of The Grail is a real voyage of discovery into our mythic and visionary landscapes and a modern day quest for the Grail with as many mysteries as Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.
If you live in London, this is a place you must visit and a book you must read.
London’s Camelot and The Secrets of the Grail by Chris Street is available from The Atlantis Bookshop and Watkins Bookshops in central London or on-line from www.lulu.com or Amazon
Chris Street has been an award-winning professional writer since the mid seventies. Some of his other titles are; Earthstars (1990), Earthstars, the Visionary Landscape (2000). The Beer Guru’s Guide (2006) and London's Ley Lines.
Camelot Moat - How to get there
From M25. Take the Potters bar turn off and head down the A111 towards Cockfosters. At the first junction, turn left up Ferny Hill. As you approach the brow of the hill, you’ll see an 60ft tall Egyptian obelisk in a field on your right. About 100 yards further on there is a right turn into the Hadley Road gate of Trent Park. Find a spot in the car park and then find the path which takes you towards the obelisk. Fifty yards or so down the path, on the right, you will see the fence around Camlet Moat and should be able to locate the entrance gate.
(This involves a good twenty/thirty minute walk from the station). Take the Piccadilly line to Cockfosters. Turn right outside the station and walk past the garage, then the cemetery until you come to the main entrance to Trent Park. Follow the drive to the car park and cafï¿½. On the right of the park cafï¿½ is a path into the woods. Follow it and where it emergesfrom the woods, continue until you can turn left and walk downhill towards a huge oak tree. At the oak, follow the path around to the right, past the lakes and up the hill on the other side. At the top of the hill you’ll enter more woods and soon there will be a left fork in the path. Take it and walk to the next junction where another path joins from the right. Straight ahead you should see the fence and gate leading into Camelot Moat. Please ignore the information boards. They are not entirely factually correct.