HE IS thought to be more myth than legend, but after 1,000 years as the ultimate British hero, evidence has emerged that King Arthur lived most of his life in Strathclyde and may well have been a Glaswegian.

In a paper to be read to a congress at Glasgow University next July, Dr Andrew Breeze, a professional philologist and Celticist, argues not only that Arthur existed, but that he fought all his battles in southern Scotland and Northumberland.

For more than 1,000 years, the adventures of Arthur have enchanted readers in works such as Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, not to mention a flood of recent films.

But whether he really existed and where he fought his battles have always been a mystery – until now.

“The evidence,” Breeze told The National “is in a Latin chronicle called The History Of The Britons, written in the ninth century by a Welsh monk. It lists nine places where Arthur defeated his enemies, but nobody has been able to say exactly where they were.”

Due to his language studies and long years of research into Celtic history, Breeze, of the University of Navarre in Spain, is certain that Arthur was a warrior in the ancient kingdom of the Britons centred on Strathclyde.

“Yes, he could have been a Glaswegian, possibly from Govan,” said Breeze from his home in Pamplona last night. “The fact that he fought his battles where he did suggests he came from Strathclyde.”

Breeze said three of the nine battle sites were fairly easy to locate. According to his interpretation of the ancient book, the Battle of the Glen took place on the River Glen near Wooler in Northumberland.

He added: “The battle of the Caledonian Forest will be in the Southern Uplands, near Beattock Summit, while the conflict on the River Douglas will be on Douglas Water, near Lanark. The difficult ones were fights on a river called Bassas, a river bank called Tryfrwyd, and at a hill called Agned. But if you go to books on early Scottish place-names, they mention Tarras Water in Eskdale, Dreva in Upper Tweeddale, and Pennango in Teviotdale.

“I think that Bassas is a scribe’s miswriting of Tarras, while Dreva will be the river bank Tryfrwyd, and Pennango, which means ‘Death Hill’, will be a lost toponym southwest of Hawick.”

That leaves three other names: Guinnion Fort, the City of the Legion, and Mount Badon. Dr Breeze is sure that the first was at Kirkgunzeon, between Dumfries and Kirkcudbright, while the City of the Legion is another scribal error, for “The Rock of the Legion”, near Kinneil at the east end of the Antonine Wall.

“The odd man out is Mount Badon,” he concluded. “I think this is Braydon, near Swindon in Wiltshire, but I don’t think it was a victory of Arthur at all. It was attributed to him long after his death.”

Breeze believes that the pattern of these names on the map proves that Arthur was a North Briton, and not a Welshman or Cornishman. They also prove he really existed, as a chieftain or general in the early sixth century. He believes, too, that Arthur was a Strathclyder, because the only battles there are on its borders, when he was defending the kingdom from other North Britons.

There have been longstanding legends that Arthur did operate in and around Strathclyde in the Dark Ages. It is often thought that he was of Roman descent and died fighting invaders from the Angles or Saxon tribes.

It has been reported before that Arthur could have been Scottish and that his cult grew up around the Falkirk area. In Dumbarton, which means “fort of the Britons”, there has long been a tradition that Dumbarton Rock was connected to Arthur and Merlin the wizard.

Breeze is pinning his reputation to his latest revelations. He is a graduate of both Cambridge and Oxford Universities, and is a Fellow of both the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Historical Society.

“I know that my views will be controversial,” he said. “But I stick to my guns. The men and women of Scotland can now feel proud to know that Arthur came from their country, that he was a brave warrior, and that soon after his time his name was given to northern princes.

“Fifteen centuries after Arthur won his triumphs, he can now be recognised as a Northern hero of the early sixth century.”