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King Arthur's Round Table

Henge

<b>King Arthur's Round Table</b>Posted by HobImage © Ian Hobson
Nearest Town:Penrith (3km NW)
OS Ref (GB):   NY524284 / Sheet: 90
Latitude:54° 38' 53.63" N
Longitude:   2° 44' 15.92" W


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Fieldnotes

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Visited July 2009.
I must admit I was a bit dissapointed when I visited. I'm not sure why, perhaps after the long drive I was a bit tired? Anyway, easy enough to find right next to the road. When I am next in the area I will visit again and see what I think next time.
Posted by CARL
24th May 2010ce

Of the three that there were said to be, one we know. one has been destroyed by the building of the gatehouse, where is the second one? under the road?
Are there any remains of the other two left?
The fields either side?
bobpc Posted by bobpc
9th March 2007ce
Edited 9th March 2007ce

I was very taken with the small raised circular platform in the middle of the henge. It's just off centre, only a few inches high. It put the fancy into my head that this was a cousin to the aboriginal Australian bora circles, and that the henge was built around a pre-neolithis ritual platform.

Probably totally tosh, I know, but if there's another more sensible explanation, I don't know that I want to hear it, it would spoil the delusion.

Even dodgier idea, is that the big stone planter in the carpark of the pub is the remains of one of the two stones alleged to have stood over the entrance to the henge. The pub Landlord was adamant about the truth of this claim. It it is such a large thing, it must have taken some effort to reduce it to an oversized garden ornament. Though it looked more like sandstone to me, and not of the same stuff as the central stone of Mayburgh, not that that means anything either way.
Hob Posted by Hob
31st August 2004ce
Edited 31st August 2004ce

[visited 31/5/4] Sitting almost in the shadow of Mayburgh is this Arbor Lowesque henge. Its a bit trashed by the road and forgotten by modern penrith but its doing remarkably well compared to compatriots about the country. Access is ok, I stuck the car on the verge next to the henge and shinied over the gate. I think you can get in without gymnastics though.

Henge complexes are reasonably common in Britain but I've not heard of two so dramatically different, being so close as this and Mayburgh are. Despite the closeness I feel this one is the true henge of the area, maybe the local henge for local people.
juamei Posted by juamei
27th June 2004ce
Edited 27th June 2004ce

Sunday 29 June 2003
Hadn’t really looked at King Arthur’s Round Table before and could’ve done with a bit of time on this occasion. It’s a really nice example of a henge, but couldn’t be much more different to Mayburgh.

Anywhere else it’d be pretty damn impressive I reckon. Here in the ‘shadow’ of Mayburgh, it’s difficult to give it enough spotlight, but I reckon it’s pretty damn impressive anyway!!!
Moth Posted by Moth
2nd July 2003ce
Edited 16th July 2003ce

I have been visiting this site since I was a bairn. My uncle used to take us camping to the lakes and his favouite stopping off place was the boozer at Eamont Bridge. Me and my cousins were given the obligatory glass of pop and a bag of crisps and left to our own devices for a couple of hours. The henge and the river were our playgrounds.
In recent years I discovered the Mayburgh Henge and neglected King Arthurs Round Table. I decided to make amends on my last visit and stayed away from Mayburgh and devoted myself soley to this henge.
It's a beautiful place! How could I neglect it ? You can be just yards away from a busy road (A6) and yet emerse yourself to an extent that everything else just fades away.
This is what henges do to me, I'm sure that this is what they are supposed to do. I knew it as a kid and I'm re-learning it now.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
21st February 2003ce
Edited 16th September 2003ce

King Arthur's Round Table (21.8.2002)

Well signposted, but no organised place to park a car. I found it best to park in side road virtually opposite the main entrance to the site. This is on the B5320, barely 50 metres from the junction with the A6. You can also then walk to Mayburgh if you wish. It is hard to really get a feel for the place because of it destruction and location, but it did remind my in a small way of the henge at Arbor Low, and the banks and ditches of numerous hill forts, especially Figsbury Ring.
pure joy Posted by pure joy
24th November 2002ce
Edited 25th November 2002ce

I don't know when it was, or who it was, but at some point in time some idiot decided to build a road through the edge of this monument.
There were originally two entrances, only the one to the South East remains leading in through the banks, across a raised walkway over the ditch into the central enclosure.
This can only be some kind of gathering place- we can only wonder what went on here. Interestingly the entrance to Mayburgh Henge can easily bee seen from the centre of circle - how and why were these two monuments linked?
Chris Collyer Posted by Chris Collyer
12th May 2002ce

Amazing that this is still here, sliced on two sides by roads.

OK, so it's not intact, but still fairly impressive. Good to watch the cars going by staring at the idiot on the fence with the camera

March 2002
moey Posted by moey
1st April 2002ce

Folklore

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So I returned [from Lowther Hall] 4 mile back to Peroth ... and came by a round green spott of a large circumfference which they keep cut round with a banke round it like a bench; its story is that it was the table a great Giant 6 yards tall used to dine at and there entertained another of nine yards tall which he afterwards killed; there is the length in the Church yard how farre he could leape a great many yards; ...

Travel book, manuscript record of Journeys through England including parts of the Lake District, by Celia Fiennes, 1698.

Taken from the very excellent website
Guides to the Lakes
http://www.geog.port.ac.uk/webmap/thelakes/html/simpson/smp3fram.htm
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
27th May 2008ce

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

In 1538, Leland (who was the king's antiquary - what a position) wrote:
"It is of sum caullid the Round Table, and of sum, Arture's Castel."

In 1724 Stukeley said "The site is used to this day for a country rendez-vous, either for sports or for military exercises, shooting with bows, etc."

The Cumberland historian Hutchinson was told by villagers in 1773 that the place was an ancient tilting yard where jousts had once been held. He said wrestling matches had taken place there within living memory.

info in Marjorie Rowling's 'Folklore of the Lake District' (1976).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd April 2004ce
Edited 26th July 2005ce

Miscellaneous

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Regarding Hob's photo
http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/31699/king_arthurs_round_table.html
In Mayburgh and King Arthurs Round Table by C.W. Dymond CWAAS 1890.

In the inn yard, serving as a water butt, is a circular tank of red sandstone, 38ins in diameter and about 36ins in depth, which has been called "King Arthur's Drinking-cup." About this object, as many another, a baseless story has been started which, unless checked, may in time, become, by repetition, a fixed tradition of the spot. I find that even some antiquarians have been misled by confiding too easily in statements made to them, to the effect that this tank was dug up on the site of the Round Table; nay, that it has been found in the very centre thereof. I myself was told this improbable tale, till on closely cross-questioning my informant,-the same who had set the story afloat, - he acknowleged that he knew nothing about it; and that he had stated as fact that which he only supposed to be so. The aforesaid man-the most ancient authority in the village, having lived there for more than 60 years-testified that it had been in the inn yard, (though not in the same position) as long as he could remember. of course, this tank has never really had any connection with the earthwork over the way.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
14th October 2008ce
Edited 14th October 2008ce

On the southern bank of the Eamont is an intrenched amphitheatre, called King Arthur's Round Table, in ancient times used as a tilting-ground; and near it is another relic of antiquity, named Mayburgh, which is supposed to have been the Gymnasium, where the wrestlers, racers, and others of the humbler class performed their exercises.

From: 'Eachwick - Earnley', A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), pp. 121-124.
URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50933.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
30th October 2007ce

Regarding Hobs picture of the stone outside the pub http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/31699.
Two large stones once stood outside the destroyed entrance to the henge and are shown on a drawing of the henge made in the 16th century by William Dugdale and were mentioned by Camden in his 'Monumenta Brittania.
The fact that Hobs stone is now at the pub may be significant . The remains of the henge that we see today are not really an accurate representation of the original structure. Around 1820 a chap called William Bushby turned the henge in a tea garden. He raised the central platform by dumping 1000 cu metres of sand and gravel on it, much of which came from cutting away the inner bank of the henge, he also deepened the ditch. William Bushby also owned the pub.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
23rd July 2005ce

Another small henge existed nearby but was destroyed when the new approach to Lowther Park lodge gates was constructed in 1878 fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
23rd November 2002ce

The link with Arthur is probably early 14th century for that is the time the Cliffords became the owners of nearby Brougham Castle. They claimed descent from the Welsh kings and therefore Arthur. It is significant that after their arrival their castle of Mallerstang became known as Pendragon Castle".
Archaeological sites of the Lake District
T. Clare
Moorland Publishing Co.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
1st August 2002ce
Edited 19th December 2002ce