In my last post, I referred to Pomparles Bridge as ‘legendary’ — and so it is. But while that Pomparles Bridge was in the same location, give or take, as the present-day bridge, they are not the same thing. The visitor, misty-eyed and semi-delirious from the effects of Arthurian tales, nerves tingling with the notion of sighting the Lady of the Lake, will be crushingly disappointed with the reality.
Glastonbury Tor shifted from prehistory into the kind of history we now called legend when Caradoc of Llancarfan, a Welsh monk, published his Vita Glidae (‘Life of Gildas’) in the early twelfth century.
The Saxon princess-abbess-saint Frideswide was not the founder of Oxford: there was certainly a settlement at the confluence of the Cherwell and the Thames well before her time. But she has a claim to be one of the founders of the idea of Oxford, the notion of the city as a nexus of learning, religion, and occasional miracles.
In the region of Oxfordshire there are great stones disposed as if by the hand of man. But at what time, or by what people, or for what memorial or significance this was done is not known. However that place is called Rollendrich by the local people. (Historia Brittonum, 9th century)