Montferrat Coin Knight-Life

Chickens of the Round Table

Once upon a time, while doing research for an Adult Education day-school on Arthurian legend, I encountered some truly brain-scrambling material. There is far more to the Arthurian myths than one usually encounters in the standard versions.

Surrealism starts in Durham. The village of Castle Eden, Co. Durham, famed for its beer, is said to be haunted by the Knights of the Round the form of CHICKENS. How or when this story began I have no idea. Perhaps the locals suffered excessively from ergot-affected crops, or consumed too many pints of Castle Eden, I don't know. It may be simply a fowl calumny. Or perhaps it's what Gary Larson has been trying to warn us about all these years...

Worse was to follow in the livestock area: the existence of the FISH KNIGHT', an armoured amphibian... and SIR GUINALOT. Guinalot had a serious problem: his mother was a bitch - the four-legged kind that goes "Woof!" - and his father was human (don't ask!). 'Gw' and 'W' sounds are sometimes interchangeable, e.g. the 12th C. author Layamon refers to Guenevere as 'Wenhaver'; in which case, has Sir Guinalot been immortalised in the name of a well-known dog food? Did he have an intimate relationship with a leg of the Round Table? How did he get on with all the chickens? Did he fight Palug's Cat?

PALUG'S CAT? - A giant supernatural beast of Celtic tradition, transmogrified in French into 'le Chat Palu', 'Capalu', and the Creole female gunfighter, Cat Ballou (as spoofed by Jane Fonda), and clearly from the same litter as Begemot in Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita. One French legend even claims that this overgrown moggy actually killed Arthur ("Down, Tiddles! There's a good pussycat! - Aaargh!!!") - a trifle ignominious. The Cat then invaded Britain and became King...

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