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King Arthur's Round Table



A fine assortment of early opinions on [the henge] is fortunately available. Thomas Pennant, journeying north, wrote of it in 1769, "Some suppose this to have been designed for tilting matches, and that the champions entered at each opening. Perhaps that might have been the purpose of it: for size forbids one to suppose it to be an encampment." Four years later, however, he visited the Thornbrough henges (all three are very similar) and changed his mind, deciding that they at any rate, were designed for holm-ganga, or single combat in the Norse style, with the contestants entering at either side and spectators thronging the bank. He cites Saxo Grammaticus to illustrate this, and he adds, "I daresay the ring near Penrith, in Cumberland" (i.e. King Arthur's Round Table) "was formed for the same purpose."

Hutchinson, who had also visited the Round Table by 1773, noted: "We were induced to believe this was an antient tilting ground, where justings had been held: the approaches seemed to answer for the career, and the circle appears sufficient for the champions to shew their dexterity in the use of the lance and horsemanship: the whole circus being capable of receiving a thousand spectators on the outer side of the ditch."
Pennant was not the first to record the tradition of "tilting" at the Round Table. Bishop Gibson, a century before, had suggested "Tis possible enough that it might be a Justing-place...
Folklore from a Northern Henge Monument
Charles Thomas
Folklore, Vol. 64, No. 3. (Sep., 1953), pp. 427-429.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd October 2006ce

Comments (1)

Dear Rhiannon,

I hope you don't mind me quoting your quotes so I can add some references to an incomplete article someone wrote on about the henge. Among the many rules of wikipedia are not to lift text off a website without permission, so here it is.

Myself I haven't ever visited a henge yet, but you seem very knowledgeable about them, and there is an alert on the wikipedia site for "King Arthour's Round Table, Cumbria" which warns that if no-one adds any the article might be removed.

I know its academic and nerdy, but I wrote a wikipedia article about a peace camp we had and someone got it removed because my references weren't good enough. I'm sure yours will be, and I'm sure you're not bothered in the slightest.


Posted by Rene
18th May 2007ce
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