It is given by Geoffrey of Monmouth as the actual location of Camlann, where Arthur fought his final battle against Mordred. Constantine and Arthur were the only survivors. Constantine became king of Britain while Arthur was taken to Avalon by Morgan Le Fay.
Near its source is a town named Camelford, which Layamon specifies as the location of the final battle. Local legend places the battle at Slaughter Bridge, about one mile from Camelford. John Leland says that Arthur and Mordred clashed on the bridge and killed each other.
River Camel Region | 0 to the 9th century AD
Prehistoric and Roman Periods
Cornwall, including the area around the River Camel, has evidence of prehistoric human activity dating back to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. During the Roman period (first to fifth centuries AD), Cornwall was part of the larger Roman province of Britannia, and the landscape likely saw some Roman influence.
Celtic and Saxon Influences | 5th – 9th centuries
The Celtic peoples inhabited Cornwall during the early medieval period. The Cornish language, a Celtic language, was spoken in the region. As the Roman Empire withdrew from Britain in the early fifth century, Cornwall, along with other parts of the country, experienced changes in political and cultural dynamics.
In the later centuries of the first millennium, the region faced influences from Saxon invasions and migrations. Cornwall, with its distinct Celtic identity, maintained a separate cultural character.
The River Camel, like other rivers in Britain, would have played a role in transportation and trade during this period. Rivers often served as vital routes for communication and the movement of goods.
Viking and Norse Influence | Late 8th – 11th centuries
The late eighth to the early eleventh centuries saw Viking raids and Norse influence in various parts of England, including Cornwall. While specific records about the River Camel during this time are limited, the broader historical context includes interactions with Viking settlers and influences on local cultures.
Camel is believed to have Celtic origins, possibly deriving from the word cam, meaning “crooked,” or “curved,” which is fitting given the river’s sinuous course.
Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138
Roman de Brut | Wace, c. 1155
Brut | Layamon, late 12th century to mid-13th century