The Merlin Trail - trail map and visitor attraction information
A new visitor trail which aims to tell the story of Merlin and his links to the south of Scotland has launched, with thirty different sites to explore.
The route was created by the Arthur Trail Association to encourage visitors to learn more about the story of 'the real man behind the legend', and is made up of four weekend sections which can be walked or driven. The trails each have different themes covering more than 30 sites across Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders, and stretching to East Lothian and the Central Belt.
The trail is as chronologically logical as possible but can be visited in reverse order. Overall this is a seven day itinerary but it is organised in 4 themes so that it can be broken down into one or two day trips. These incorporate all the major Dark Age sites of the 5th, 6th and early 7th centuries in the area.
Trail 1: Christianity & Rheged
The first section looks at the coming and spread of Christianity (sites 2,3,6,8 & 9) and the colonisation of Galloway by the powerful Briton chiefdom of Rheged. (sites 1,4,5 & 7) which fell to the Angle conquest in the early sixth century
Trail 2: The Merlin story
The second section is the story of Merlin (sites 10-19) beginning with his early days training as a Shaman and conducting pagan celebrations on the shores of the Solway. Of royal blood, Merlin lived in luxury and comfort at Liddel’s Strength until the genocide of his clan forced him into exile. As an outlaw, he spent a decade hiding in cave shelter in the Moffat Hills before finally rejecting a chance of rehabilitation and being assassinated on the banks of the Tweed.
Trail 3: Goddodin and Selcovia
The third section (sites 20-22) takes us into the interior of southern Scotland, firstly to the site of a great victory in Selgovia (the Hunters) at an ancient site of ritual and burial, then on to the mysterious Catrail, an earthwork running about 50 miles, delineating a no-go tribal boundary. Finally we visit the citadel of the southern chiefdom of the Gododdin defending its frontier against the Angles.
Trail 4: The Mungo Story
The fourth section (sites 23-27) tells the story of the Christian missionary St Mungo (aka Kentigern), It Begins with a rape and the birth of an unwanted boy who is brought up in a monastery. He becomes a missionary and is eventually commissioned to convert Merlin and his people to Christianity in a final confrontation of the old and the new religions.
To support the trail, a new website provides information on each location and signposts visitors to other attractions and areas of interest in the local region.