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  Vortigern Studies > Vortigern > The Realm of Vortigern > 'Lake'

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Lake Vortigern
Robert Vermaat

The seventh Doctor


Doctor: "I believe they call it Lake Vortigern"
Ace: " What a daft name"
Lake Vortigern in Cornwall?

Dr.WhoLake Vortigern?

Was there really a lake named after Vortigern in Cornwall? And was Arthur really buried in there? Actually, the reason that I mention this site at all, is because it is related to Vortigern (however remote), and that it's fun!

For one, the location of this lake is completely unknown, apart from that it should be somewhere in Cornwall. Lake Vortigern, which happens to be known as well aThe dig at Lake Vortigerns 'Vortigern's Lake', is a bit of a fictious place, which features in an adventure of Dr. Who, the famous timelord! In 'Battlefield', a.k.a. season 26, the good doctor defeats his enemies in 4 episodes:

The Tardiss arrives, screeching as usual.Plot Synopsis
Like a good Time-related scenario is supposed to, the story is situated in several different periods. The 'start' of the episode is not shown, but when archaeologist Peter Warmsley begins excavating a site on the edge of Lake Vortigern, this sets several events in motion.

The Doctor and his trusted side-kick Ace receive a mysterious distress signal and land in 1993 in the Earth village of Carbury, which is near to Lake Vortigern, the mythical resting place of King Arthur's sword. A convoy of U.N.I.T. (special forces against aliens) is disrupted when soldiers from another dimension cross to ours to renew their centuries-old confliAncelyn checks out the Tardissct for control of the sword Excalibur. The Tardiss, carrying the Timelord (who distinctly resembles Rowan 'Mr Bean' Atkinson at times) and his curveous helper Ace ("Ooh, wicked!"), lands conveniantly next to a signpost that spells "Lake Vortigern, 4 km". I can assure anyone that no such sign exists in the UK, all of them showing distances in miles only!

Two factions of Knights also land on Earth, Ancelyn (LMordred gets run down by a car. Bummer.ancelot?) and his arch-enemy Mordred staging a fight in the middle of the convoy, which happens to be transporting a nuclear missile across the countryside. Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart comes out of retirement to work alongside the Doctor again, as they take on the sorceress Morgaine, who seeks the legendary Excalibur. This legendary sword is buried on the bottom of Lake Vortigern, together with the body of King Arthur, all tucked up inside a space craft!

How did he get there? Well, apparently the doctor put him there after the 'final' showdown in the eight century AD, when it turns out that the Doctor, in an incarnation after his 7th, actually is (was, or rather, will become) the wizard Merlin in an alternate universe where reality is closer to Arthurian myth. At the end of a series of conflicts, King Arthur's nemesis, Morgaine Le Fey isLake Vortigern finally victorious; Arthur is killed. The Doctor puts Arthur's body and his sword Excalibur in a spaceship which he places at the bottom of Lake Vortigern in his home universe. Morgaine apparently seals the Doctor in the Ice Caves and becomes ruler of her solar system. However, a thousand years later she gets wind of Excalibur being on 'our' earth, and sets out to get it and Arthur.

If the Doctor does not comply and hand over the sword, she threatens to unleash a dimension wrecking demon called the Destroyer (actually a bit of a drag), and it's Lethbridge-Stewart who bravely faces the creature as it prepares to eradicate mankind. Boom. 1-0 for the pensioner vs. the Universe Wrecker. Finally, the Doctor prevents Morgaine and her son Excalibur in Lake VortigernMordred from winning the sword and starting a nuclear war.

Quote from 'Battlefield' (The Doctor to Morgaine)
'If this missile explodes, millions will die, you will die. All over the world, fools are poised, ready to let death fly. Machines of death, screaming from above. Of light, brighter than the sun. Not a war between armies nor a war between nations, but just death, death gone mad. The child, who looks up into the sky, his eyes turn to cinders. No more tears, only ashes. Is this honor, is this war? Are these the weapons you would use? Then put a stop to it; end the madness!'

Morgaine, about to set off nuclear war, is convinced her enemy is dead. In fact, Arthur has turned to dust, and Morgaine, berieved, calls of the nuclear destruction. Ancelyn is saved as well and the Doctor wraps things up: "Brigadier, arrest Modred, and while you're at it, loLethbridge-Stewart in action at the lakesideck up his mother as well". They all retire happily to the Brigadier's cottage, the girls go off shopping and Ancelyn gets to mow the lawn. The end.


When I was a young child, Doctor Who gave me the chills. Yes, I was (a lot) younger, but that was not the main difference - this series did not quite have the class of the earlier ones. Though back then it was all plastic, the earlier shows had a lot more suspense. Apart from the death of BOOM!the Brigadier's pilot, this is all a bit harmless, even silly at times. Maybe the screaming women have gone (which is good), but now they're giggling instead (mmh). But when Morgaine, who killed Arthur, who defeated Merlin, who rules the Universe and who can blast helicopters out of the sky (just by pointing her finger at it) manages to get arrested (!) at the end, that's just a weak plot.

Apart from that, the Arthurian angle is a nice change from the usual aliens running or rolling around ('Exterminate! .. Ex..'). I quite liked some of the details though, such as the hardware (Tungsten steel bullets are supplied to the U.N.I.T. troops for use against a knight's armour), or Lake Vortigern.

Doctor Who: Battlefield

Seventh Doctor 1987-1989
(TV, 1989)
Season: 26 - Story: 156 - 4 Episodes

Regular Cast
The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), Ace (Sophie Aldred).

Sylvester McCoy as the indefatigable Dr.WhoGuest Cast
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), Morgaine (Jean Marsh), Mordred (Christopher Bowen), Brigadier Winifred Bambera (Angela Bruce), Ancelyn (Marcus Gilbert), Shou Yuing (Ling Tai), Doris (Angela Douglas), Elizabeth Rowlinson (June Bland), Pat Rowlinson (Noel Collins), Peter Warmsly (James Ellis), The Destroyer (Marek Anton), Flight Lieutenant Lavel (Dorota Rae), Sergeant Zbrigniev (Robert Jezek), Major Husak (Paul Tomany), Knight Commander (Stefan Schwartz).

Production Staff
Producer: John Nathan-Turner, Director: Michael Kerrigan, Writer: Ben Aaronovitch, Script Editor: Andrew Cartmel, Designer: Martin Collins.

Broadcast Information

BBC First Broadcast Date
Archive Status
Part One
06 Sep 1989
3.1 million
Exists (Color)
Part Two
13 Sep 1989
3.9 million
Exists (Color)
Part Three
20 Sep 1989
3.6 million
Exists (Color)
Part Four
27 Sep 1989
4.0 million
Exists (Color)

Novelisation Information
Novelised by: Marc Platt, First published in: 1991 by WH Allen/Target/Virgin. Library Number: 152

Video Information
VHS tape available in: UK, US/Canada, Australia/NZ (Full stories, not the Years tapes)

Links to Dr.Who and this episode can be found at:

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