The last few weeks have been hard work but it feels as though I’m making progess on a different scale with all my Bevis/Boeve research. Some of the stimulating articles I’ve been reading have confirmed my opinion that there is still much to do, not least to interrogate the fable of the Arundel patronage.
A completely separate line of enquiry would be the local traditions associated with Bevis, some of which will probably never be traced to their sources, but undoubtedly there was a moment when the literary source gave rise to a local desire to claim the hero and to create a ‘backstory’ suited to the interests of the era and what was already known of Southampton’s, or indeed Arundel’s, history.
Perhaps the most puzzling tradition is how the concept of a horse leaping to its death from Arundel Tower came into being, when in the earliest texts it is Bevis’s mother who takes that leap. Tempting as it is to propose the identification of horse and mother, in some kind of Celtic binary akin to the ancient Welsh story of Rhiannon, this seems at stretch the imagination a little too far.
These matters are at present, however, out of my range as I concentrate on the literary problems, although another potential researcher may take them up. As for me, the next stops on my research journey will be the city archives and the Hartley Library. Really looking forward to that!