North West Wales

King Arthur focus for new Bangor University centre

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Media captionWhat are King Arthur's connections to Wales?

Unravelling the legends surrounding King Arthur and Celtic myths will be the focus of a Welsh university centre dedicated to the subject.

Bangor University's Centre for Arthurian Studies officially opens next week.

The college is the only place in the world to offer a master's degree in Arthurian literature.

Prof Raluca Radulescu said it would "showcase the origins of the stories in medieval Wales".

"The Arthurian legends have become so embedded in modern life, culture and politics," said Prof Radulescu, who is also the general editor for the journal International Arthurian Society.

"Nineteenth Century revivals and reinterpretations of the legends are the source of much modern fantasy, though the medieval sources remain a focus of much research and fascination among scholarly audiences and the general public alike."

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Image caption Jude Law plays the villain Vortigern in the King Arthur film due out later this year and partly filmed in north Wales

The university is home to one of the UK's best collections of texts linked to Arthur, his knights and legends, and the ever-present wizard Merlin - from where folklore claimed the town of Carmarthen is said to get its name - in Welsh - Caerfyrddin, or Myrddin's Fort.

In 2015, the university also acquired the Harries Arthurian collection from Flintshire.

The official opening of the centre marks a year in Wales where its legends are being celebrated as part of a Welsh Government campaign to mark the nation's culture and history.

The Year of Legends includes a Merlin festival in Carmarthen, and coincides with the expected premier of a new Hollywood film about King Arthur.

Prof Radulescu added: "With a new Hollywood movie on the 'Legend of the Sword', shot in scenic north Wales, in Snowdonia, to be released later this year, we are well placed to showcase the origins of the stories in medieval Wales."

The official launch of the Centre for Arthurian Studies will see a series of lectures next Friday, examining Arthur's place in Wales, and discussing why medieval legends remain relevant in the 21st Century.

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