a recording of this lecture will be available to ticket holders for two weeks after the event

King’s Arthur’s great counsellor and magician, Merlin, is the most famous of all wizards in traditional European literature. From medieval romances and histories through Pre-Raphaelite paintings to the modern television and cinema screen, he is a towering figure, at once omnipotent and vulnerable, triumphant and tragic. To medieval writers, he epitomised the allure and the danger of magic, while to modern counterparts he is alternately a Druid, a Christian holy man, or a figure straddling the pagan and Christian worlds. Those who have studied his origins know him as a tantalisingly complex character, founded at once in native Welsh legend and in Anglo-Norman historical romance. His ultimate starting-point, however, seems solidly historic: or does it? You are invited this evening to explore the original sources of his legend, and see if we can understand where it began and how it developed.

Speaker: Professor Ronald Hutton is a Professor of History at the University of Bristol. He is a leading authority on history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs.