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Experts to discuss Merlin legend

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By Fiona Reid
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Experts to discuss Merlin legend

AN international conference will take place in Moffat in September exploring The Dark Age in Southern Scotland and the legend of Merlin.

The two-day Merlin Fact and Fake event is being organised jointly by the Arthur Trail Association and Moffat Museum and will bring together archaeologists, historians, philologists, topologists, literary scholars, geographers, geo-archaeologists, art experts and anthropologists in a multi-disciplinary meeting of minds.

In a series of sessions at the Proudfoot, they will discuss the time between the departure of the Romans and the arrival of St Columba and try and unravel the facts behind Merlin.

A spokeswoman said: “It was a dynamic and dramatic time in our history when the elements, which eventually formed Scotland, were beginning to come together.

“Emerging kingdoms and politics, international trade, Christianity and new peoples – the Angles of Northumbria and the Scots of Dalriada – were changing the face of northern Britain.”

The organisers are particular keen to shine a spotlight on the age-old Merlin legend and finally provide some answers.

They said: “The 6th century AD is the background for the historic Merlin story, not as the wizard of legend but a man of learning. His world was shattered in a bloodbath of pillage and genocide and his beliefs exterminated by the imposition of an alien Christian religious dogma. Suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, he took to the hills as an outlaw, surviving on what nature could provide.

“Over the centuries that followed, history evolved into legend. His story was adapted, to champion new ideals and changing times. What is fact and what is fake? Where does story-telling and history connect? The conference will examine and debate the evidence.”

Meanwhile, a programme of archaeological investigation will start in August in the Upper Tweed to ‘explore the unknown’. Its progress will be revealed at the weekend and there will be a chance to visit the excavation site.

The September 7 conference, which is open to the public, is being dedicated to the memory of the late Elizabeth Roberts whose charities, GWYR and MBE, provided the seed funding for it. Further funding has been provided by Museums Galleries Scotland, and Clyde Windfarm.

For more information and to view the programme go to merlintrail.com.

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