A Critical Bibliography

Abrams, Leslie and James P. Carley.  (1991) The Archaeology and History of Glastonbury Abbey.  The most well-read and knowledgeable experts in the field contributed chapters to the volume, which cuts through a thousand years of myth and legend.

Alcock, Leslie.  Arthur’s Britain.  (1971) At the time a masterly summation of the state of archeology and a competent job in reviewing the historical sources.  Now sadly outdated in the latter category but still a good read.

Economy, Society and Warfare among the Britons and Saxons.  (1987) An updated and expanded version of his thoughts.

Anderson, Marjorie and Alan Orr Anderson.  Kings and Kingship in Early Scotland.  (1973) An examination of the Dalriadan royal family, it points out some serious flaws in the received version of their geneology.

Arnold, Christopher J.  An Archaeology of the Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.  (1988) An excellent overview by a veteran archeologist.  His observations on dating and social structure are against the general thinking which is based solely on the primary sources.  Since they are flawed, his findings are more accurate.

Ashe, Geoffrey.  In Quest of Arthur’s Britain.  (1968) There were some high level experts discussing art, culture, and society here.  Unfortunately, Ashe was so focused on keeping Arthur and all things Arthurian in the area around Glastonbury that the work loses some credibility.

Bartrum, Peter C.  A Welsh Classical Dictionary.  (1993) A rationalization of all the Welsh geneologies, put into a chronological format.

Bassett, Stephen.  The Origins of Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.  (1989) Essays on each of the known Anglo-Saxon kingdoms discussing chronology and borders.

Blair, Peter Hunter.  An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England.  (1977) For its time an excellent overview of the period, unfortunately riddled with assumptions that have since been proven untrustworthy.

Bromwich, Rachel, Brynley F. Roberts, and Alfred O.H. Jarman.  The Arthur of the Welsh.  (1991) A summary of the Welsh origins of the Arthurian legends and their transfer to the continent.  Standard reading on the subject.

-and R. Brynley Jones.  (1978) Astudiaethau ar yr Hengerdd.  The focus of the book is a specific type of Welsh poetry, but there are several useful chapters involving Arthurian poetry and one on the Gwynedd capital.

Trioedd Ynys Prydein:  The Welsh Triads.  (1963) Possibly the greatest collection of references materials for Welsh figures by the most knowledgeable expert.

Bruce, James Douglas.  The Evolution of Arthurian Romance.  (1923) Hopelessly outdated now, but the work of a passionate and knowledgeable expert inthe field who could have become a major rival for Loomis had he lived longer.

Bullock-Davies, Constance.  Professional Interpreters and the Matter of Britain.  (1966)  She demonstrates that the Bretons were largely responsible for the transference of materials from Wales to the continent.

Burgess, Glynn and Karen Pratt.  The Arthur of the French.  (2006)  A series of experts writing on the various French Arthurian romances which are their specialties.

Busby, Keith.  Gauvain in Old French Literature.  (1980) A study of Gauvain’s character as he developed throughout the Middle Ages.

Chadwick, Hector.  Origins of the English Nation.  (1907) An extremely interesting essay on Vortigern here.

-The Heroic Age.  (1912)  Over a hundred years old, the academic citations are outdated, the arguments occasionally awkward, but the philosophy he lays out is dead on.  If you want to understand what the warriors of the British, or the Irish, Greek, Norse, or Mesopotamian heroic ages, read Professor Chadwick.

Early Scotland.  (1949) An interesting study by a renowned expert.

-Chadwick, Hector and Nora Chadwick.  The Development of Oral Literature.  (1932-1940)  An overview of every Eurasian body of oral literature available in the early twentieth century.  A key to understanding how it functions.

Chadwick, Nora.  Studies in Early British History.  (1954) Some interesting essays here that have become the foundation of thought for the entire subject.

Studies in the Early British Church.  (1958) Essays about the exchange of information with the continent here, but the most significant is Chadwick’s insights into the writing of the Historia Brittonum.

-Celt and Saxon.  (1963) A great compilation of essays on the subject. 

-The British Heroic Age.  (1976) A great deal of useful insights put in stream of consciousness format.

Chaney, William A.  The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England.  (1970) An excellent use of mythology and archeology to explain the concept of royal luck, the gods’ favor of a ruling family.

Charles-Edwards, Thomas.  Early Irish and Welsh Kinship.  (1993)  Charles-Edwards demonstrates that cousinships were the basis of Celtic society.

Coe, J.G. and S. Young.  The Celtic Sources of the Arthurian Legend.  (1996) The best place to find all the pre-romance references to Arthur.

Cross, Tom Peete.  Lancelot and Guinevere:  A Study on the Origins of Courtly Love.  (1970) The Celtic genre of kidnappings are discussed here and its transition into the French romance.

Dark, Kenneth.  Civitas to Kingdom.  (1994) The introduction of a new methodology for defining the borders of British kingdoms.  Deeply researched if not well accepted in the academic community.

Davies, Wendy.  An Early Welsh Microcosm.  A study of southern Wales using the official grants of land, the Llandaff Charters, to the church in that region.

Dumville, David.  St. Patrick:  A.D. 493-1993.  (1993) A summary of the two basic arguments on Patrick’s death-year (463 or 493) with a definite conclusion of 493.

Gildas: New Approaches.  (1984) An excellent series of essays about every aspect of Gildas’ De Excidio Britanniae – historical, literary, technical, biblical, etc.

Goetinck, Glenys.  Peredur:  A Study of Welsh Tradition in the Grail Legends.  An examination of all the bizarre scenes in Peredur.  Not all that useful for understanding the nature of the grail.

Goffart, Walter.  Barbarians and Romans 418-584.  (1980) The book that proved barbarians did not overrun the Roman Empire, that it caved in on itself.

Goodrich, Norma Lorre.  King Arthur.  (1986) Deceptively authoritative.  Professor Goodrich knew the literary aspect of all the Arthurian materials, but none of the historical information.  She argues that she knows every aspect of Arthur’s life without any historical understanding of the materials she is using.

Guinevere.  (1991) An expansion on the first, with the same flaws.

Merlin.  (1987) Her attention focused on the mentor of Camelot, she uses her materials in the same way and has the same results.

The Holy Grail.  (1992) A literary angle for an old argument about the Albigensians and the Templars keeping the Holy Grail.  Here Goodrich argues that Perceval passed it on to the continent and eventually to them.

Gowans, Linda.  Cei and the Arthurian Legend.  (1988) A study of Cei in the British literature.  He was actually one of the earliest and best of Arthur’s men, the continent just misunderstood his function.

Grout, P.B., R.A. Lodge, C.E. Pickford, and E.K.C. Varty.  The Legend of Arthur in the Middle Ages.  (1983) A couple interesting articles, but nothing that isn’t covered better somewhere else.

Harrison, Kenneth.  The Framework of Anglo-Saxon History to 900 A.D.  (1976) This book gave me the first clues about how various sources for Bede and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle interacted to create out modern ideas of early English history.

Higham, Nicholas.  King Arthur:  Mythmaking and History.  (2002) A well-thought review and discussion of Arthur as an historical figure.  Apart from my own work, it is easily the most thoughtful and balanced treatment produced in the last forty years.

An English Empire. (1996)  A competent exposition from someone thoroughly knowledgable in all of the primary sources and very aware of the archeology.

Gildas and the Fifth Century.  (1994) A brilliant and innovative interpretation of Gildas and the historical evidence of the period.

Rome, Britain and the Anglo-Saxons.  (1992) An intriguing theory about Britain in the years just before and the decades immediately following the Roman withdrawal.

Jackson, Anthony.  The Symbol Stones of Scotland.  (1984) A lovely theory about the symbols on the famous stones representing clans and their distribution marking borders.

Lacy, Norris J., Geoffrey Ashe, Sandra Ness Ihle, Marianne Kalinke, Raymond H. Thompson.  The Arthurian Encyclopedia.  (1986) A beginner’s guide to some of the basic characters and motifs. 

Loomis, Roger Sherman.  The Grail:  From Celtic Myth to Grail Symbol.  (1963) More comparative work, more responsibly done but still a far cry from modern scholarship.

-Wales and the Arthurian Legend.  (1956) Here Loomis tried to use strictly Welsh materials for his theories.

-Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages.  (1954) Each expert of the time contributed an article on their specialization, be it a book or an era.  Still a good starting point.

Arthurian Tradition and Chretien de Troyes.  (1949) Loomis had a long history of relating the romances with the Irish myths.  His comparisons were sloppy, however.  He worked with too little evidence and took conclusions further than the facts allowed him.  This was another example of his scholarly flaws.

Moore, Donald.  The Irish Sea Province in Archaeology and History.  (1970) An explanation of the Irish Sea as a means of connecting Britain and Ireland, not separating them.  It explains why so much of Irish myth and culture appears in Arthurian materials.

Morris, John.  The Age of Arthur.  (1976) Morris was extremely knowledgeable, but not careful in his conclusions.  Nothing to be found here can be trusted.

Newstead, Helen.  Bran the Blessed in Arthurian Romance.  (1966) A comparative analysis of various Bran themes (from the Mabinogion) in the grail literature.

O’Rahilly, Thomas.  Early Irish History and Mythology.  (1946) Outdated, but several very interesting comments that have been supported by more recent scholarship.

Roberts, Brynley F.  Early Welsh Poetry:  Studies in the Book of Aneirin.  (1988) Some interesting articles about Y Gododdin, read especially Dumville and Koch in that order.

Rowland, Jenny.  Early Welsh Saga Poetry.  (1990) An examination of all the Welsh poetry, great comparative look and some interesting insights.

Sims-Williams, Patrick.  Religion and Literature in Western Britain:  600-800.  (1990) All of Professor Sims-Williams key papers, some very interesting stuff here.

Tatlock, John Strong Perry.  The Legendary History of Britain:  Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae and Its Early Vernacular Versions.  (1950) A careful examination of every person, place, and theme in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work.  Reading through it there is no question that Geoffrey was not an historian in any sense.

Thomas, Charles.  Christianity in Britain to 500 A.D.  (1981) A scholarly approach to the evidence.  Christianity was not quite as widespread as we thought.

Thompson, Edward A.  St. Germanus of Auxerre.  (1980) The life that was written about St. Germanus is the nearest to contemporary we have of Britain in the first half of the fifth century, and Professor Thompson’s magisterial work pulls every piece of information out of it.

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