NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia

River Humber

Hombre, Honbre, Humbre, Ombre

The River Humber is a significant watercourse in Northern England that forms an estuary near the North Sea.

This river often appears as the northern border of Arthur’s kingdom. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, the river was named for Humber, king of the Huns, who drowned there while fighting the sons of Brutus.

The Vulgate romances locate a number of fortresses on the Humber – including GalafortDolorous Tower, Dolorous Guard, King’s FortressQueen’s Ford, and the town of Chanviere – but they seem to think that the river is in Wales.

The Livre d’Artus locates one of Arthur’s battles against the Saxons on the river. According to the Post-Vulgate Merlin continuation, Arthur battled the Kings of IrelandDenmarkthe Valley (Vale), Sorelois, and the Distant Isles at the Humber, killing all of them (in the Vulgate Lancelot, seven kings were said to have opposed Arthur in the battle).

Kay showed particular valor in the fight. Arthur erected the Abbey of the Good Adventure along the river to commemorate the battle, and Guenevere dubbed a nearby ford the Queen’s Ford. In Hector Boece’s Scotorum Historia, the Humber is the site of Arthur’s final battle with Mordred, a fight that earlier texts place at Salisbury or Camlann.

Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138
Vulgate Lancelot | 1215-1230
Vulgate Mort Artu | 1215-1230
Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal | 1220-1235
Vulgate Merlin | 1220-1235
Le Livre d’Artus | Early 13th century
Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin | 1230-1240
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470
Scotorum Historiae | Hector Boece, 1527