Seventy-five years ago the British Isles were an armed encampment lying off the shores of Hitler’s conquered Europe. There were millions of troops crammed into every conceivable space between the native inhabitants. They came from all the countries of the British Empire. There were fighters from Europe too who’d fled here to carry on the fight and of course there were the massed ranks of our American allies.

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We imagine them clad in shining armour and visored helmets with brightly coloured pennants snapping in the breeze. Mounted on powerful steeds, these famous warriors wielded huge lances and mighty broadswords behind shields decorated with their coats of arms. They would have been an altogether spectacular sight as Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table charged into battle. Yes, awesome indeed, if only that vision were true, but sadly it’s pure Hollywood.

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At Bohemianmojo we like to celebrate magical connections to the past – what we like to call ‘smoke from the flames of history - as much as we feel our duty to cast a critical eye over current events and controversies be it in the environment or the world of food.  This week I’m going to reach back into my career as a journalist again to share what was probably one of the most awe-inspiring stories I have ever covered. On the face of it this is the tale of a man and one of his ancestors, but it truly represents a window into another world.

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Inspired by seven year-old Matilda Jones, who found her very own Excalibur in a fabled Cornish lake (see Part I) Bohemianmojo decided to unravel historical fact from the mountain of fiction surrounding the legend of King Arthur. The popular wisdom on the subject is that there are no historical facts to back the existence of a King Arthur; he’s just a very romantic but mythical figure. We beg to differ...

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A week or so ago a young girl called Matilda Jones was paddling on the edge of a lake on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall when she found a four-foot long sword in the shallows. Unusual in any lake at any time, you might think. But this was no ordinary lake, this was Dozmary Pool, where legend has it the Lady of the Lake raised her arm above the mirror of the water to receive Excalibur from the fatally wounded King Arthur.  

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On first sight it could have been a graveyard in any number of peaceful English villages. Tall trees stood sentinel, planted to give summer shade for the neat rows of heads-stones on carefully mown lawns. Not England though but New England and the epitaphs on those tombstones in the small town of Hadley, Massachusetts, held the secrets of high drama played out on both sides of the Atlantic nearly three hundred years ago.

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