Brutus of Troy


Published in hardback 2015, and paperback October 2020

“In a time when we are increasingly aware of history’s subjective nature and of the way it is continually revisited to reflect newly evolving preoccupations, should it not be just as valid to examine the beliefs, convictions and concepts of identity of those who created Britain as to concentrate on verifiable events…?” – Gillian Tindalls’ review of Brutus of Troy in History Today (October 2016)

Book cover low res

Hardback, front cover

‘A unique exploration of the ancient foundations of being British’ – Your Family History.

‘Fascinating and very enjoyable’ – Genealogists’ Magazine.

‘A fascinating account of how the British people have mythologised themselves’ – Your Family History.

‘A wonderful read and a marvellous romp’ – Kim Drummond (UNVR).

‘I enjoyed reading this immensely. I would definitely recommend it’ –

‘Britain’s history seen through its national myth’ – The Telegraph Bookshop.

‘A service to historical scholarship’ – Britain’s CV.

‘Wonderful’ – Martin Sexton.

‘Intricate, fascinating… excellent’ – Gillian Tindall in History Today.

‘Adolph’s logic in explaining the tale’s evolution makes perfect sense’  – Children of Arthur.

‘Completely recasts the notion of “ancient” ancestry by looking not at DNA, archaeology, or genealogical records, but at the history of an idea…  The American Genealogist .

‘Excellent and enjoyable’ – John Chaple.

‘…the wonderful lyrical way that Adolph writes. His sentences seem to walk off the page and my head at once became full of delightful images of rampaging tyrants and Trojan heroes’ – Kim Drummond (UNVR)

‘… sorting through the overlap of legend and fact’ – The Florida Bibliophile.

‘…succeeds admirably’ –

‘I am sure Adolph’s book will be popular, not least because of what it shows us of the twists and turns of that centuries-old quest for origins’ – Folklore.

‘I also wanted to let you know I recently finished reading Brutus of Troy – many congrats on an excellent book!  It was a fascinating account of that myth and, while I was sorry to find that there was no historical basis for it, I greatly enjoyed learning more about it. As a Londoner it was also a real eye-opener re my home City!’ – Mr R.E., via e-mail, 22 September 2020

‘… I came away with a very clear appreciation of it all – I’ve never read anything quite like it’ – Simon Clare on the Goodreads website.

‘Many thanks for a great talk, and for the book, which I bought as soon as it came out, and which I am re-reading. It is brilliantly done, and is the book we had long been wanting… it is good to see your book being publicised in the town at last, and let’s hope that people here gain a clearer understanding of what a unique tradition they possess’ – Bob Mann, Longmarsh Press.

Published by Pen & Sword in hardback in November 2015 and paperback in October  2020, 237 pages, with line illustrations, two maps, two pedigrees and a set of black and white plates.

Anthony Adolph

hardback ISBN  978-1473849174, price £19.99/$39.95; paperback ISBN 9781526781802, price £12.99 (or £10.39 direct from the publisher)

Order from  or or direct from Pen and Sword (if you quote 284333 in the ‘Submit Voucher’ box on the final ‘field’ of the Pen and Sword order form you will receive a discount: you can also order by telephone from Pen & Sword on 01226 734222) or, if ordering in America, from Casemate Publishers.

Hardback cover, front

Paperback cover, back

To watch my short film about Brutus of Troy, please see Youtube

If Brutus of Troy had ever existed, he would have lived about 3,200 years ago. In fact, his story was conjured up out of nothing more than the name of Britain itself, by Dark Age monks about 1,500 years ago. His story was embellished by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain in 1135 and was retold time and again throughout the Middle Ages and on into modern times.

The author looking over Geoffrey of Monmouth’s shoulder in the Wye Valley Sculpture Garden, Tintern, Monmouthshire

Brutus was long held to have been the founder of Britain and ancestor of many of its kings, including Caratacus, Arthur, Elizabeth I and the present Royal Family.  The Trojans he led to Britain were regarded as the ancestors of the indigenous peoples of Wales and Scotland – and thus, one way or another, of all the British.  Despite all this, there has never been a full-length biographical study of Brutus – until now. The result of ten years’ research, edited by the superb Linne Matthews and published in my 25th year as a professional genealogist, this book probes deep into Brutus’s origins, the growth of his legend and its hay-day under the Tudor dynasty, and the subsequent fading of his story from mainstream consciousness, due largely to the rise of Britannia as a new embodiment of all that Brutus stood for – the very essence of the island of Britain.

Order from  or or direct from Pen and Sword (if you quote 284333 in the ‘Submit Voucher’ box on the final ‘field’ of the Pen and Sword order form you will receive a discount: you can also order by telephone from Pen & Sword on 01226 734222) or, if ordering in America, from Casemate Publishers.

Brutus of Troy, the mythological founder of BritainBrutus of Troy, the mythological founder of Britain

A summary of Brutus of Troy

Brutus of Troy was the mythical founder of Britain, the ancestor of King Arthur and the male counterpart of Britannia. This is his first full-length biography.

Brutus of Troy is not the same as the Brutus who killed Caesar: when Britain’s founding hero was first imagined, about the 600s AD, he was called Britto, but the Roman name sounded grander so they renamed him Brutus. As the mythical ancestor of the British people and their kings, Brutus played an immensely important role in our ancestors’ views of the origins of themselves and their nation. He is virtually unknown now but, as the future King Arthur himself says in Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, it was ‘brutish… not to understand’ how our ancestors believed Britain had started. Dedicated to Prince George of Cambridge, the very real heir to the realm once believed to have been ruled by Brutus, this book seeks to dispel all such brutishness by re-introducing Brutus of Troy to the people of modern Britain, in all his glory.

The Alban Mount rises above the Alban Lake, not far from Rome, Alba Longa, the ancient Latin city strung along the ridge to the left, was were Brutus was imagined to have been born.The Alban Mount above the Alban Lake, just south of Rome. Along the ridge to the left lay Alba Longa, the place where, within his myth, Brutus was believed to have been born.

The book falls into four parts, focused around the conceiving of Brutus, his life, afterlife and burial. Part one, ‘Conceiving Brutus’, explains the classical myths of Troy as told in Homer’s Iliad; how the Romans developed the myth of their descent from survivors of the siege of Troy who had been led to Italy by Aeneas, as related in Virgil’s Aeneid; and how the Romans then brought the Trojan myths to Britain. Christianity then arose: although it seems radically different to the Classical mythology which it superseded, its Old Testament roots lay in the same eastern Mediterranean soil, and in the same ancient beliefs as those which gave rise to the story of Troy. When the Roman empire collapsed, the Trojan myths on which it had been based were condemned by Christianity, but when the survivors managed to re-establish new kingdoms and cities in Europe, the Aeneid enjoyed renewed popularity. Meanwhile, Dark Age monks, trying to work out how the different races of Europe were descended from the sons of Noah, invented Britto as the mythological ancestor of the British. Through a complex process of scholarly inventions, Britto became Brutus, a great grandson of Aeneas, who was in turn reimagined as a descendant of Noah himself. In the work of the Welsh monk Nennius in the 800s AD, Brutus gained a brief life-story; over the next two centuries he gained a long line of mythological descendants to connect him down to the ancestors of the real princes of Wales, from whom many living people are descended. Then, in about 1135, Geoffrey of Monmouth gave Brutus a full biography in his History of the Kings of Britain.

Brutus receiving the prophecy of Diana on the island of Lefkada, from Matthew Paris’s ‘Chronicle’.

Part two, ‘The Life of Brutus’, retells Geoffrey’s story in detail – how Brutus is exiled from Italy and goes to Greece where, in the locality of Butrint (which is now in Albania) he had finds descendants of the Trojans living in slavery, and leads them in their fight for freedom in neighbouring Epiros. His settlement of Britain is prophesied to him by the goddess Diana on the island of Lefkada. They survive storms at sea, African pirates and sirens trying to lure their ships onto the rocks at the Straits of Gibraltar, and reach Galicia in Spain, where they join forces with other surviving Trojans under Corineus. They ravage Gaul, founding Tours in the process, and land at Totnes, Devon, where they defeat the native giants. Taking joyful possession of Britain, they cultivate the land and Brutus founds London as his ‘Troia Nova’, his new Troy in the west. Besides retelling Geoffrey’s story, this part also identifies the exact places where Geoffrey imagined the story unfolding and excavates his creative use of earlier stories, one of which, it is suggested, was a British myth of ‘Corunus’ which survives only in Geoffrey’s retelling.

‘The Afterlife of Brutus’ describes the reception of Geoffrey’s story. It was reused during the Middle Ages as the opening for numerous popular histories of Britain; it was cited to justify British foreign policy; it influenced the use of lions in England’s royal coat of arms and the development of chivalry, and it provided the pseudo-historical backdrop for the developing story of Arthur. Oxford University claimed Brutus as their founder and the students of Cambridge carved the giants he had defeated on the nearby hills. The Medieval kings claimed descent from him, and recently a pedigree showing their claimed descent from Brutus has been made available on-line, by the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

The Tudors claimed direct descent from Brutus, sometimes quartering his made-up coat of arms with their own royal arms. When James VI of Scots became James I of England he claimed to have reunited the ancient realm of Brutus as ‘one happy Britannia again’. But, since the Renaissance, scholars had been questioning Brutus’s existence, and once Charles II had dropped him as Britain’s cultural figurehead in favour of Britannia, he fell out of political favour and main-stream history.

Red cliffs of south Devon near Budleigh Salterton, stained red with iron ore but said in myth to be sstained red with the blod of Gogmagog whom Brutus of Troy;s companion Corineus slew here. An illustration for Anthony Adolph's book Brutus of Troy. The cliffs along the south coast of Devon are red because of the iron ore they contain, but the mythological explanation is that this was the blood of the giants whom Brutus and his Trojans killed when they finally reached Britain.

Brutus’s potent myth has continued, however, to inspire writers ever since. Milton wrote about him and almost wrote a Brutiad, to rival Virgil’s Aeneid, instead of Paradise Lost. Nahum Tate cast him in the role of Aeneas (before reworking his play as the libretto for Dido and Aeneas). Elkanah Settle wrote an immensely popular history of Troy which included Brutus’s founding of London. Hildebrand Jacob wrote a fantastic poetic epic in Virgilian style which is rediscovered and re-appreciated here. Alexander Pope planned a Brutiad: he died before completing it but his scheme was fulfilled by John Ogilvie in 1801, whose Britannia, a National Epic Poem envisaged Brutus, aided by a host of angels straight out of the pages of Paradise Lost, battling Satan and the giants for the soul of Britain below the skies of Kent. Blake wrote a stirring poem about his arrival on Britain’s shores and it was Brutus’s founding London as the new Troy which inspired Blake to assert that London was the new Jerusalem. Brutus remains an inspirational figure in literature, down to modern fantasy-fiction in which Brutus is imagined reincarnating as William the Conqueror and, later, as a hero of the Second World War.

15 Bigbury P1130288The recently cleared banks of Bigbury Hill Fort near Canterbury, Kent.  In my analysis of Ogilvie’s epic poem about Brutus, I realised that he had this place in mind when he described the fearful fortress of the giants whom Brutus had to fight in order to gain control of Britain.

Part four, ‘Burying Brutus’ explores Brutus’s continued life in pseudo-history, how he has been recast as a Phoenician, a Welshman, an Aryan, an Israelite – and the first coloniser of Portland Bill. Meanwhile, the fact that he stopped being seen as the real founder of Britain in the seventeenth century created a void which helped stimulate the development of archaeology and science in general as new means to explain where the British had come from. Our modern, scientific understanding of the world therefore owes a surprising debt to Brutus’s non-existence.

65 Brutus StoneThe Brutus Stone, Totnes, Devonshire, one of the few tangible memorials to Brutus in Britain today.

Brutus’s lasting tangible legacies are in the Brutus Stone in Totnes and the places in London which have become associated with him due, largely, to eighteenth and nineteenth mythologising – Guildhall (his palace); St Paul’s Cathedral (the site of his temple to Diana); London Stone (part of his stone circle) and the Tower of London.

The London Stone, which was moved from its ancient home opposite Cannon Street Railway Station and placed on display in the Museum of London on 13 May 2016, is undoubtedly an ancient stone, but its association with Brutus did not come until 1857, when the Rev. R.W. Morgan co-opted it into the Brutus myth as part of his well-meaning attempts to reclaim London for the Welsh.  The stone’s story and the myth-making process which it inspired is retold in detail in my book.

The London Stone before it was moved into the Museum of London.

The London Stone in Cannon Street, before it was moved into the Museum of London

A play attributed to Shakespeare describes Brutus’s  death and the book ends by explaining the mythologizing process which led to the Victorians imagining him buried below the Tower of London – not a bad achievement for someone who had never actually existed.

89 P1020252AGog and Magog, the giants whom, within the myth, Brutus and his men defeated when they landed in Britain, leading the Lord Mayor’s Show in the City of London, as they do each year – a living reminder of Brutus’s myth in modern Britain.

This book is the history of Britain retold through its national myth, focusing on what our ancestors thought about their origins, and who they really were. Just like King Arthur in Spenser’s Faerie Queene, nobody who reads this book will see ever Britain’s history in quite the same way again.

Order from  or or direct from Pen and Sword (if you quote 284333 in the ‘Submit Voucher’ box on the final ‘field’ of the Pen and Sword order form you will receive a discount: you can also order by telephone from Pen & Sword on 01226 734222) or, if ordering in America, from Casemate Publishers

Promotional picture for my book Brutus of Troy

Promotional picture for my book Brutus of Troy

(May 2017) A Note on Brutus and Brexit: on “The Truth Agenda” website, Andy Thomas argues that Britain’s ancient tradition of Empire-building, rooted (he says) in Artemis’s prophecy to Brutus that the kingdom he will found (Britain) will ‘awe the world, and conquer nations bold’ and make the whole world subject to its rule – leaves the British fundamentally ill-disposed to co-operation with our neighbours within the European Union. Maybe, yes, but the Brutus myth also reminds us (as I point out in my book) that our mythological founder was (in modern terms) an Italian of Turkish descent, leading a collection of Turkish refugees out of the border-area between Greece and Albania, thus making Brutus a pretty good role model for British co-operation with Europe too!

Reception and reviews

History Today's leading review of Brutus of Troy.

History Today’s lead review of Brutus of Troy.

Gillian Tindall’s review of Brutus of Troy was the lead review in History Today in October 2016, occupying a double-page spread (pp. 56-57), and heralded on the contents page ‘Gillian Tindall praises a new study of Brutus of Troy’. Gillian Tindall is a leading British writer and biographer, a prominent figure in London’s literary scene and winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, whose books include London Fields Beneath; City of Gold: Biography of Bombay, and Celestine: Voices from a French Village. She described  Brutus of Troy as ‘this intricate, fascinating and densely written account of national identity and dreaming aspiration over 1,500 years… Brutus is a lodestone of so much that our ancestors recounted as actual history (and had been so enmeshed with other real beings that have made up the fabric of the perceived story of mankind) that he has acquired a significant presence. In a time when we are increasingly aware of history’s subjective nature and of the way it is continually revisited to reflect newly evolving preoccupations, should it not be just as valid to examine the beliefs, convictions and concepts of identity of those who created Britain as to concentrate on verifiable events, especially as we are still evidently so attached to our myths?’, noting that (as I explain in the book) ‘Blake’s vision of Albion’s capital conflated with the rebuilding of Jerusalem is a relatively late addition of the rich mixture of the Brutus myth… The list Adolph has quarried out of those who adopted the Brutus story as material for their own creations is a roll call of the great, the half-great, the eccentric and the obsessed’, from Spenser and Milton down to Nahum Tate, Purcell, Pope, Blake and beyond, ‘and in our time the palimpset of the Brutus myth has burgeoned again in novels, with some Irish, transatlantic or Israeli extras added to it. Brutus is still there, beneath London’s “dreaming hills”. But on the evidence of Adolph’s excellent book, sleep he does not’.

The following review of Brutus of Troy appeared in Your Family History magazine in March 2016 (issue 166, p. 89), under the heading ‘an exploration of the mythological origins of being ‘British’:

Brutus review You Family History March 2016 001

In his last book, In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors, Anthony Adolph gave us a long view of genealogy, exploring the pedigree of the human race, and the British in particular, since primeval times. This book is a sequel in a sense, but now moves away from what science and history have told us into more mythological territory, to explore what might be described as the ‘psychological ancestry’ of the British. Here the story begins with the legendary figure of Brutus, whom the 9th century chronicler Nennius claimed gave his name to our islands. His account, as with so much of our earliest ‘history’, was then much embellished by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century. The result is a fascinating account of how the British people have mythologised themselves as ‘New Trojans’ – although Brutus (whom nobody today claims as a historical figure) is himself generally forgotten today, his legacy is certainly with us, every time we sing Jerusalem or visit a place claimed to be linked to King Arthur.  READ IT FOR: A unique exploration of the ancient foundations of being British.

“I have just finished reading your wonderful book Brutus of Troy and wished to compliment you” – Martin Sexton, poet and artist, winner of The Blake Society’s 2015 Tithe Grant, via e-mail (15 December 2015).

Brutus of Troy was featured ‘in the spotlight’ in Pen & Sword’s Christmas 2015 circular, along with my other new book In Search of our Ancient Ancestors.

“The tale of Brutus, the great-grandson of Aeneas of Troy and the legendary founder of Britain, has long been the subject of historical speculation and national pride for the British.  As a lover of all things Arthurian, I’ve long been fascinated by the story of Brutus as well as the debate that has ensued over his historicity. Consequently, I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Anthony Adolph’s new book Brutus of Troy and the Quest for the Ancestry of the British from publisher Pen & Sword….  The question is—is the story true, and if not, why has it been so popular and mattered so much to the British? Anthony Adolph sets out to answer those questions in Brutus of Troy. I admit that my initial desire to read this book came from my hope that Adolph would prove that the story of Brutus was undeniably true. After all, I’ve read books by authors like Alan Wilson and Baram Blackett, who believe the erasure of Brutus as a historical figure is a longstanding effort by the English to repress and destroy the Welsh sense of identity. I have no doubt that the English did plenty to oppress the Welsh over the centuries, but that doesn’t mean a Welsh legend is historical fact. Still, I’ve longed to believe Brutus’ story is true. After all, I can trace my own ancestry back to the Plantagenet kings of England, and Brutus was one of their alleged ancestors through the Welsh king Llewellyn the Great of Wales, and that would make Brutus my ancestor. It would also (and I’m being a bit facetious here) mean that since Brutus’ great-great-grandmother was Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, I am descended from the Greek Gods. (Now I know where I get my natural beauty.) Adolph himself wanted to believe the story of Brutus, but the more he researched it, the more unlikely it seemed, and in the end, he had to conclude it is just a myth. Bummer. But that doesn’t mean that Brutus’ tale isn’t still a major part of the heritage of all modern-day Britons and their cousins in the United States and around the globe. Therefore, to understand the significance of Brutus’ legend, we need to look at how it developed. A good bulk of Adolph’s book answers the question of how the story [of Brutus] arose and why it became popular… Yes, I still wish the tale of Brutus was true, but Adolph’s logic in explaining the tale’s evolution makes perfect sense…  I especially appreciated the genealogy charts in the book that show how the current British royal family would be descended from Brutus and from Adam and Eve, if the genealogies were true, as well as showing Brutus’ relationship to other members of the Trojan royal family and its descendants, including Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great. Finally, there are forty-five plate images in the middle of the book as well as illustrations throughout the rest of the book that depict places associated with Brutus and artwork based on his story. A particularly handy reference included is a timeline of the Brutus myth from the fall of Troy through the publications of various versions of his story, and of course, there is an extensive bibliography.  Brutus of Troy really made me understand better the role that the Brutus legend has played throughout British history and why it has stayed alive for centuries. It also made me want to read more of Anthony Adolph’s books since he is an avid writer about history and genealogy and the author of nine other books, including Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors and In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors” – Tyler Tichelaar, review on the Children of Arthur Arthurian blog, 17 February 2016.

In Search of our Ancient Ancestors was featured on p. 46 of the Spring 2016 edition of RU: St George’s [College] Reunite [Magazine], which wrote that it and In Search of Our Ancient Ancestors “seek to take British genealogy back further than it has ever gone before”.

“The biography of the mythological ancestor of the British and how he was invented and developed as an addition to older Trojan and biblical pedigrees” – Family Focus (New England Historic Genealogical Society), Spring 2016, p. 63.

“… Before this publication, I had no knowledge of “Brutus of Troy.” This came as a bit of a shock, mainly because his legacy has been so embedded into the history of England. Initially conceived by Medieval Age monks, Brutus was woven into the foundation myth of his people. And much like each culture before them, there was a constant desire to trace one’s lineage to something greater, typically resulting in an origin story. This is where Brutus comes into the picture…  Anthony Adolph introduces the reader to Brutus and the earliest traces of his story, as it was preserved in Medieval literature, and on the heels of Roman occupation and Roman influences. The reader is guided through each telling as it was told within its respective historical context. He then continues to provide a detailed account of Brutus’s life, as related by Geoffrey of Monmouth. This leads to each retelling of the hero’s tale and what and whom he would later inspire. As is fitting of every epic, Adolph ends his research with the traditions of Brutus’s passing and burial… It is immediately apparent that Anthony Adolph has exhausted every resource at his disposal. The conclusion of which lead to an extremely well researched publication. I enjoyed reading this immensely. I would definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in both Classical and Medieval literature” – Petros Koutoupis, Ancient Origins website, April 2016.

“Anthony Adolph is a leading professional genealogist, with a strong interest in tracing family ancestors back as far as possible. As explained in some of his other works, the ancients, having no written sources to refer to, sought to determine their own family history by drawing on oral information handed down through the generations, along with legends and mythological stories, which formed the basis of their research. One of the greatest examples of oral history which we know, is that of the Trojan War as told by Homer, with Aeneas, the Trojan hero, who led refugees away from the burning city of Troy and who subsequently became a Roman hero in Virgil’s Aeneid. This book seek to link the history of the British nation with Brutus of Troy, who was the … great grandson of Aeneas… This is a fascinating and very enjoyable account of how our forefathers used the story of Brutus of Troy to link their ancestry to the narratives and legends of the past” – Barbara Jarvis, Genealogists’ Magazine, vol. 32, no. 2, June 2016, p. 84.

“There is beginning to be a considerable interest in Prince Brutus and a book has been written called Brutus of Troy, and the Quest for the Ancestry of the British by Anthony Adolph. He is a professional genealogist, he doesn’t believe in the histories as being true, he thinks they are made up, but that doesn’t stop it being an excellent and enjoyable reference book about Brutus” – John Chaple’s website (this is a wonderful and very generous comment from someone who holds completely opposite views on Brutus’s historical reality to me).

“This book will appeal to Modernist Deniers who will thank Anthony Adolph for hacking clear the brambles and nettles of mythology and fiction surrounding Britain’s Trojan origin story, while Residualists (‘There’s a residuum of truth in them thar tales!’) will likewise be grateful. Either way, the author’s clarificatory cultural survey is a service to historical scholarship. Yet Adolph has not solved the riddle of why some of the Britons opposing Julius Caesar’s invasions in the first century BC called themselves New Trojans (Trinovantes), nor has he come up with a convincing alternative to the name of Britain as deriving from ‘Land of Brit and his people’. What he has provided however is the first full biography of Brutus the Trojan, deftly written and richly illustrated to boot. The result is fascinating” – Dr John Hart, The National CV of Britain Group (the riddle is not a riddle: the story of the Britons calling themselves New Trojans is only in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History, the book in which he had already introduced the story of London being the new Troy in the west in the first place. There was a tribe in Essex called the Trinovantes, but that name (self-evidently) does not mean ‘new Trojans’, because (even if they spoke Latin, which they didn’t), ‘Tri’ does not mean ‘Troy’. I have discussed this in the book, in any case. My book also discusses the origins of the name Britain: again it would be difficult, in the extreme, to argue that it meant ‘Land of Brit and his people’. What I have shown, however, is that the name of Brutus was derived, through an earlier version, Britto, from the name of Britain, through an inventive process which the Greeks called etiology. This takes the name of a country or people, and from it deduces the existence of a hero who founded them or it, and once such a hero has been invented, you create a story for him. From such literary origins sprung our Brutus of Troy).   

“An ‘out of the ordinary’ interesting book in which, amongst the 237 pages, you may find inspiration for your own family history research” – Essex Family Historian, no. 158, 2016.

Brutus of Troy was supported by an article by me based on the section in the book on the London Stone The True Origins of the Legend of Brutus of Troy and the London Stone, on the Ancient Origins website, 28 May 2016.

“As you settle down into whatever chair you have chosen to sit in whilst reading this wonderful book, be prepared to linger a while, because in Brutus of Troy, Anthony Adolph is about to transport you to a world of intrigue, mystery, pageantry and daring-do.  Set over continents the Brutus myth is one which is far more complex than can be imagined. My first surprise was that Brutus was a myth at all – for a few pages I truly thought I was reading ancient history and marvelling that I had, in my career as an ancient historian, somehow missed a vital part of my education – alas my illusions were shattered when Adolph, rather glumly, announced that Brutus, like Romulus and Remus before him, was “entirely fictitious’. At this point I did wonder why bother reading on, ultimately it was a fairy story wasn’t it? But initially what made me keep reading was the wonderful lyrical way that Adolph writes. His sentences seem to walk off the page and my head at once became full of delightful images of rampaging tyrants and Trojan heroes and before I knew it I had been sucked into a book that just made me want to keep reading. There is no doubting Adolph’s desire to access the truth surrounding the myth of Brutus – he has painstakingly brought together what must be every clue, hint, link and story connected with his protagonist and if nothing else he is to be congratulated for that…  Adolph begins his tale with the story of Gog and Magog and their inclusion, as enormous wicker figures, at the front of the Lord Mayor’s Show, a procession which takes place every year in London, England. It is one of the most wonderful things I learned from Adolph and I do feel a sense of quiet satisfaction that I will now be able to talk with some degree of knowledge about these rather scary stick warriors……  Overall this is a wonderful read and a marvellous romp. By the last page there is a sense of real sadness as our mythical Brutus is “lowered … into the receptive, fertile earth of his island of Albion … and so they buried Brutus of Troy, builder of cities, the founder of Britain” –  Kim Drummond, UNVR (Roman history) website, Summer 2016.

In Search of our Ancient Ancestors ends with a speculative section on the development of human origin legends, including Biblical ones, setting the stage for Adolph’s next and most recent book, Brutus of Troy and the Quest for the Ancestry of the British. Brutus of Troy completely recasts the notion of ‘ancient’ ancestry by looking not at DNA, archaeology, or genealogical records, but at the history of an idea… This book, by exploring the literary history of the Brutus tradition, offers a lesson in how genealogy evolved as a literary form, and how royal genealogy, – real or fictitious – played an important part in the development of a national identity, both in Britain and in other countries that had their own parallel traditions. … In Search of our Ancient Ancestors and Brutus of Troy are complimentary and original explorations of our ancient roots” –  Nathaniel Lane Taylor, FASG, The American Genealogist (‘an independent quarterly journal dedicated to the elevation of genealogical scholarship’ founded by Donald Lines Jacobus in 1922), July 2016 (released December 2016), p. 237.

“AN ORIGINAL AND IN-DEPTH STUDY OF AN IMPORTANT & FASCINATING SUBJECT. This book is an attempt to trace the “mytho-historical” roots of the British – and succeeds admirably. Nearly all of the present countries of Europe at one time or another have considered themselves to be an heir to the grandeur that was once the Roman Empire. In order to establish an “historical” and justifiable link to that Empire, they have created a genealogical path via various Trojan heroes who survived the Trojan War and landed on distant shores. The most well known is the noble Trojan Aeneas who was formulated as an ancestor of Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, after the former landed in Italy. Ever since the termination of the Roman Empire, successor states have competed with each other as to which one was the rightful and legitimate heir. Rome was the model; Troy was the bloodline. Anthony Adolph, the author of Brutus of Troy, puts forth Britain’s case. Packed with wide ranging information, many helpful illustrations, and nearly seven full pages of Bibliography and References, this is a most informative read…” – Critical Mass,, 7 January 2017.

“Proving, yet again, that the British never tire of mythologizing themselves, London’s redoubtable genealogist and radio broadcaster, Anthony Adolph, has now served up an ingenious new assessment of the ancient Brutus saga. In Brutus of Troy and the Quest for the Ancestry of the British (South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword, 2015; cloth, jacket, 237 pp; $34.29; Amazon), Adolph excavates a quantity of British myth and archival information on the ancient figure of Brutus (c. 1135BC – c. 1079BC). Over 29 closely sourced chapters, with superb illustrations, including a possible timeline and family tree for his subject (pp. 213, 214), Adolph advances an attractive case for Brutus as a foundational, though (finally) fictitious, figure in British ancestry. According to established myth, Brutus, a great grandson of Aeneas and Aphrodite, liberated the descendants of the Trojan War, leading them on an epic voyage to Britain. Landing in Devon, England, Brutus (as lore has it) overthrew the local giants, laid the foundation for Oxford University and the city of London (the New Troy), and sired a long line of kings, including King Arthur and the ancestors of the royal family. Of special interest, as Adolph shows, is the persistence of the Brutus myth in British literature (Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Blake), as well as royal propaganda, and foreign policy. A dense, challenging project, sorting through the overlap of legend and fact” – Maureen E. Mulvihill, FBS VP, The Florida Bibliophile, vol. 33, no. 7, March 2017, p. 13.  

“This book tells a fascinating story, less familiar to Britons than it deserves: the adventures of Brutus, a mythical descendant of Trojan kings, who allegedly founded Britain, giving it its name. He is said to be the ancestor of Arthur and other British rulers, and his legend underlies national cultural monuments ranging from Shakespeare’s King Lear to local traditions including the Totnes Stone [sic, actually called the Brutus Stone – AA] and London’s Gog and Magog…  [in the eighteenth and nineteenth retellings of Brutus’s story told in the book] Brutus’s vision of his descendants allowed later authors to foresee (i.e. to praise) contemporary developments. Ogilvie, during the Napoleonic wars, foresees Britain’s naval successes, and presents Satan as trying to thwart the British Empire’s founding; C.D.’s prophetic vision foresees Queen Victoria. Adolph ends with continuing modern offshoots, including the British Israelism movement and some New Age novels, which have so far produced nothing to equal the best modern reinventions of Arthurian or Robin Hood material…  the fascination with genealogy-creating appears repeatedly. The book is, above all, a recounting of stories… Adolph’s reader may well ask: why has Brutus’s legend been neglected? The answer, I think, is that his descendant Arthur came to fill the centre stage, providing passions, mysteries, quests and Christian symbolism, and political potential, beyond what Brutus’s myth could offer. So Brutus only contributed material around the edge of subsequent national culture. More positively, the Brutus myth represents a hunger we can still recognize: to find the origins and early history of Britain. As we all being a rattling good yarn, it is also the ancestor of modern archaeological and linguistic investigations. I am sure Adolph’s book will be popular, not least because of what it shows us of the twists and turns of that centuries-old quest for origins” – Helen Phillips of Cardiff University, Folklore, vol. 128, no. 3, September 2017. 

“I must say your book is an absolute delight, I’m thoroughly enjoying reading it! It has much influence on my work” – Nicola Haasz, scholar of British mythology, via e-mail, June 2019.

“Brutus of Troy was one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read.  Like your book In Search Of our Ancient Ancestors, it contains an astounding amount of facts, with many connected together. It would take an American author 20 years to assemble and link all that information…..  Thank you again for writing such an entertaining and informative book. I give it 5 stars! – Steve Harlan, Iowa, U.S.A..
“I came across this book randomly and did not expect much but I have to say it was very enjoyable indeed. I was very impressed with how thoroughly the historical and cultural circumstances of the origins of the myths were explored, and all described concisely and with a little bit of dry humour too. Really helped me to link a lot of historical elements together in my head. Seeing the development of so many different versions of the story could have been baffling but I came away with a very clear appreciation of it all – I’ve never read anything quite like it” – Simon Clare on Goodreads.
“It is immediately apparent that Anthony Adolph has exhausted every resource at his disposal. The conclusion of which lead to an extremely well researched publication. I enjoyed reading this immensely. I would definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in both Classical and Medieval literature” – Petros Koutoupis, Digging up the Past, (revised review), August 2023

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MILES RUSSELL’S Arthur and the Kings of Britain (Amberley, 2017). My review of this book was published on the Ancient Origins website  on 10 May 2017. Professor Russell told me that he carried out his research unaware of mine, so it was more than interesting to compare our two books and see how much we both agree: that Geoffrey of Monmouth, the source for the mainstream Brutus myth, was not reporting real history, and nor was he making everything up, but instead he was drawing on and making creative use of earlier myths. We also came independently to the conclusion that the story of Brutus’s side-kick Corineus had probably started off as a stand-alone tale of a marauding hero and that Geoffrey had skillfully adapted it into Brutus’s myth. On the details of what these older myths may have been, and whose myths they were, we disagree completely, and having read his book thoroughly I am more than ever convinced that my interpretation in Brutus of Troy is the correct one.  The full review can be read here on the Ancient Origins website.

Brutus of Troy was supported by an article by me entitled “The Rocks, Stained Red with Blood: A Son of Hercules Slew Giants at Salcombe, Devon?” on the Ancient Origins website on 13 September 2017.

Brutus of Troy was one of the Ancient Origins website’s “Best Books Picks” in September 2018.

My letter “Brutus of Troy was BC, not AD” (correcting a Totnes News article suggesting that a real Brutus of Troy existed ‘in 1136’) was published under ‘letters to the editor’ in the South Devon & Plymouth Times, Totnes Times and Brixham News (three publications which I think are essentially the same thing) on 1 November 2017.


Brutus of Troy was noticed on the Greek news site Romainews under the headline “Βρετανός γενεαλόγος: Οι ρίζες των Βρετανών είναι στo Αρχαίο Τρίκαστρο Πρέβεζας!”, which translates as “British genealogist: the roots of Britons are in Trikastro Prevezas!”, which is true provided it is understood that this means mythological roots, not biological ones. However,  everyone knows about Greek myths, but hardly anybody knows about our own British myths, so I’m not entirely displeased with a news site letting people know that British myths created a direct link with  Greece in this way.


Image of Trikastro with one of myself inset, from the Romainews website.

Notice of Brutus of Troy on the Facebook page of Dr Harry Gouvas, Founder and Director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences of Epirus:

Dr Gouvas's Facebook page

Dr Gouvas’s Facebook page

21-22 November 2015, my work on Brutus of Troy was the subject of an open letter in the Greek newspaper To Vima entitled “Ανοιχτη επιστολη για την Αχρόπολη Τρίχαστρου”. It is an open letter from Dr Harry Gouvas, founder and director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences of Epirus, to Vice Governor of Preveza Prefecture and the Mayor of City of Preveza, saying that, following his first exploration of the ancient citadel of Trikastro in 2008, Dr Gouvas alerted me to its existence when I was looking for the possible real, geographical location of Brutus’s mythological citadel in his war against Pandrasus. The letter anticipates a great increase in tourism from Britain and the United States, as people of British descent who want to relive their mythological origins start to visit Trikastro, and he recommends taking steps to prepare, preserve and explain  this valuable site accordingly.


In 2018, I was invited to speak about the story of Brutus in a new way, via a webinar on the Ancient Origins website. That is basically a talk, delivered over the computer, but the unusual thing was that, sitting here in my office, I was speaking, live, to attendees not just in this country, but all over the world. Here is the promotional poster:

The blurb for the webinar ran: “In this webinar, Anthony Adolph, professional genealogist and author of ‘Brutus of Troy and the Quest for the Ancestry of the Origins of the British(Pen and Sword, 2015), addresses the history head-on, examining the lack of evidence for Trojans in Britain and explains how Brutus’s story was worked up in the Dark Ages out of nothing more than the name of Britain itself.  Yet it is only by releasing Brutus’s myth from the unrealistic expectation of it being true that we can truly appreciate it in all its dazzling glory!”

The webinar was recorded, and can be viewed, along with many other webinars, by paid-up ‘gold’ members of the Ancient Origins website. It is a very interesting set of talks, and (I would say) worth the money. To join and see the webinar, go to, selected ‘Membership’ at the top right hand side of the page and become a ‘gold’ member, and then log in and go to, where you will find my talk, and many other interesting ones as well.

In the webinar, which was at 9 pm on 23 January 2018, I tried to address head-on the ongoing belief, in some quarters, that the Brutus myth reflects real history. To try to emphasise my own belief, based on having studied the matter for so long, that it does not, I said, ‘So, let’s see and hear all the independent evidence from linguistics, genetics and archaeology’ to support Brutus’s existence. I then showed a completely blank slide and kept quiet for 10 seconds,  before saying ‘Precisely: there isn’t any’, and I then showed how Trojan and British archaeological finds don’t miraculously slot together, and summarised the part of my book which explains how Brutus’s myth was worked up, etiologically, from no more than the name of Britain itself. Questions in the end included whether Iolo Morganwg’s triads contain ancient evidence for Brutus’s existence (no: they were forged by a  laudanum addict in the late 18th/early 19th centuries) and whether Troy’s existence, as evidenced by archaeology, means the ere could be some truth in Brutus’s myth (no: the story of the Trojan War could well be based in real events, and Homer’s retelling of the story inspired many spin-off myths that arose much later, including Brutus’s, but these are clearly literary inventions that are not firmly rooted in the stones of Troy itself). I ended by quoting some of Blake’s magnificent poem about Brutus, which appears in my book, and by urging people not to spoil the Brutus myth by expecting it to replacing archaeology, genetics and evidence-based historical research as the best way of learning about our real past; but instead to accept the myth as, simply, a myth, and thus enjoy it for the gloriously inventive tale it really is.

In July 2018, in protest against Brexit, Totnes declared itself an ,independent city state – with Brutus on their passports.


The British Museum’s exhibition “Troy: myth and reality” ran from November 2019 to March 2020. It was accompanied by a 294 page illustrated catalogue, by Alexandra Villing, J. Leslie Fitton, Victoria Donnellan and Andrew Shapland. Its bibliography runs for eight pages, starting on p. 294. The second item in the bibliography is my book, Brutus of Troy.


On 28 July 2022 I gave a talk entitled Totnes’s Brutus Stone, to the University of the Third Age (U3A) in Totnes. The venue was St John’s Church, which provided a good, resonating space in which I recited quotations from Blake, Milton and the other poets who had retold the stirring tales of Brutus in Devonshire.  The chairman Mr Dow told me that Brutus had attracted by far the largest audience of any of their talks since before Covid, and there certainly seemed to be a lot of interested faces, and some lively questions. The talk was also covered in the local press. In Devon Live there appeared a piece entitled  ‘Giant killing son of Hercules may have founded Devon’, referring to my suggestion explained in full in my talk (and in my book) that the story of Brutus in Totnes may have been based on an older one about Corineus, who was probably originally a son of Hercules. I was delighted to have been able to speak on a subject so closely connected to Totnes in Totnes itself – a real treat.

Totnes U3A hears all about Brutus of Troy

Petros Koutoupis has been studying and writing about ancient history, origins and myths for many years, and recently he started the Digging Up The Past podcast series and invited me record an hour’s conversation with him. The subject was to have been just Brutus of Troy, but because the proof for my next book, on Brutus’s great grandfather Aeneas, had reached me only a couple of hours earlier, the conversation quickly broadened out to cover the Trojan myths in general. The resulting podcast can be heard on Petros’s Digging Up The Past website.

Return to Totnes

I have created a separate page about ‘The Amazing Adventures of Brutus in Totnes that I attended in July 2024.