Mount Etna holds a very special and unique place in the King Arthur mythos, which is why there are a few visions, interpretations and myths related to this location.
There have been many debates about Mount Etna and the place that it holds in King Arthur’s legacy, but one of the biggest theories is that it was the Island of Avalon, where King Arthur spent his last days of life.
With a name that translates directly to the “isle of fruit trees”, Avalon is a legendary place in the mythology of King Arthur and it has been the inspiration for many different stories in fiction.
If we focus on historical records, the Island of Avalon is first mentioned in Historia Regum Britanniae (also known as The History of the Kings of Britain) of 1136, written by Geoffrey of Monmouth, along with King Arthur himself. It was also the place where the legendary Excalibur sword was forged and, as we have mentioned before, the island where King Arthur was placed to recover from his mortal wounds from the Battle of Camlann.
Avalon has also been established as a place of magic, mysticism and many supernatural elements that have been developed in different fictional formats throughout the years.
Another character that holds a very special place to Mount Etna and, by extension, Avalon is Morgan Le Fay, also known as Morgana who is one of the biggest element of the Arthurian mythos, especially when we consider the mystical and supernatural elements that we have mentioned before.
In some versions, Morgana was the magical protector of King Arthur and after he died because of his wound, she became the immortal Queen of Avalon, cementing her place as one paramount figure in the Arthurian myths.
Of course, none of this answers the most important question of this particular situation: Was Mount Etna the place where King Arthur died?
One theory that is very likely is that the Arthurian myths and legends were moved to Sicily, where Mount Etna is located, during the times of the Norman occupation of this island, which makes sense and contributes to the notion that Mount Etna and the Island of Avalon were one and the same.
It’s worth pointing out that the Sicilians call Mount Etna Mongibello and that translates to “beautiful mountain”, which is important because Mongibel was the name of one of Morgana’s castles in the Arthurian mythos, further establishing the connection between Mount Etna and the Island of Avalon.
The connection of Mount Etna to the legend of King Arthur is also strengthened when we consider that Sicily and Great Britain became a lot more entwined during the times of the Norman Conquest of England, with the Britons returning to Italy and witnessing the explosion and power of the volcano in Mount Etna. The mirage that appears over the Strai of Messina is often called Fata Morgana due to having the structure of a shimmering castle, thus establishing and solidifying that connection between Mount Etna and the Island of Avalon.
Mount Etna is a fascinating place and one that holds a very interesting position in the legends of King Arthur.
Jason is the editor-in-chief of ArthurLegends.com and the primary author of the Arthurian Shared Universe. He has a deep love of British history and mythology, especially relating to Celtic and Arthurian traditions (obviously). He spends most of his days in made-up worlds.