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The real Camelot

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By Teresa Saunders—Educational Consultant and Writer*

This downloadable resource presents the legend of Camelot through a slide show, then sets up a class discussion examining evidence that Caerleon, in Wales, is the real Camelot.

Camelot resource

Previous learning

Children will benefit from some knowledge of: features of a legend; differences between formal and informal language; features of persuasive and balanced arguments; note taking; using the internet under supervision; appraising texts for their usefulness; group discussion tasks.

Shared learning and teaching

Before using the resource

  • Explain to the children that they are going to try and solve the mystery of the location of Camelot. What do they know about the King Arthur legends?
  • Make a KWEL grid (What do I know? What do I want to know? Where will I find the evidence? What have I learned?).
  • Pinpoint on a map all the possible Camelot locations – Cadbury Castle, Tintagel Castle, Viroconium, Caerleon and Dinerth Castle. Explain that you are going to investigate and debate the evidence for each location.
  • Revise how to take notes.

Sharing the text

  • Read the introduction. What does the question cause the children to do? How is this useful in an introduction?
  • Read the legend of Camelot together.
  • Slide 1: Discuss the description of Arthur. Compare it to that of the Romans and Saxons. How does it make Arthur sound? What was the Whitsun Court? Relate the festival to the modern Whitsun Bank Holiday.
  • Slide 2: Note the use of brackets. Discuss new vocabulary. Track the journey from the Severn Sea into Caerleon on the map.
  • Slide 3: Note the use of a connective to begin a sentence. Discuss how the comma separates the clause. Try re-writing the first sentence in a different way. Point out the use of commas to separate items in a list.
  • Slide 4: Discuss new vocabulary – eg, embellished, popularised. How could the embellishment of the stories have affected our impression of Arthur? Why would people want to embellish or hijack the stories?
  • Slide 5: Look at the use of the semicolon.
  • Re-read the legend, making notes that might help with research into the location of the real Camelot. What have we learned about Arthur? Is there any evidence to support the view that Caerleon is the real Camelot?

Group and independent activities

Key learning outcomes:

  • To use a range of oral techniques to present persuasive arguments;
  • To participate in whole-class debate;
  • To use evidence from a text to explain ideas.

Further reading

www.caerleon.net/history/arthur – evidence supporting the claim that Caerleon is the real location of Camelot, plus information on the Arthurian legends.

Arthur – High King of Britain Michael Morpurgo (Mammoth, 978-0749718749).

Here Lies Arthur Philip Reeve (Scholastic, 978-0439955331)

Speaking and listening

  • When their research is complete, hold a formal whole-class debate in which the children present/discuss their evidence in teams. Before they begin, use the next part of the resource for a practice debate.
  • Introduce the language of debate then give out copies of the photcopiable.
  • Click on each number on the Round Table to reveal the evidence. Discuss each statement, make notes and draw conclusions. When all the evidence is revealed, give the groups time to make their final decisions before sharing their conclusions. Discuss any new points raised, then vote. Why not go to the Literacy Time website and vote in our online poll?
  • Research other possible locations of Camelot. Groups could each have a particular location to ‘fight’ for in a debate. Decide who will take the role of the ‘floor’ (like the devil’s advocate) and who will be chairperson. Each group can present evidence, and the floor can ask questions formally, through the Chairperson, before a vote is taken. After the debate, write persuasive arguments for a particular location of Camelot, or to argue whether King Arthur was real.

Plenary

  • Share notes taken. Are they genuine notes?
  • Evaluate various performances in the debates. How might the quality of the arguments be improved?

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