HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

King Arthurs Round Table

Hob Uid: 11978
Location :
Cumbria
Eden
Yanwath and Eamont Bridge
Grid Ref : NY5232528374
Summary : King Arthur's Round Table, a Late Neolithic henge monument surviving as an earthwork; one of three clustered between the Rivers Eamont and Lowther. The name probably derives from the 17th century or earlier due to its circular form and the interest in Arthurian legends. The earthworks were surveyed and some geophysical survey undertaken, although the degree of disturbance interior proved to have been too great for the latter to produce useful results. The site comprises a sub-circular bank with internal berm and ditch. The enclosed area is a maximum of 51.2 metres across, the ditch has a maximum width of 16.2 metres, the berm 7 metres, and the bank 13 metres. Within the enclosed area is a low sub-circular platform circa 24 metres across. This has been suggested to be a relatively recent feature - parts of the earthwork were "enhanced" in the late 18th to early 19th century, apparently with a view to using the site as a tea garden - but it does appear in William Stukeley's unpublished early 18th century sketch of the site. The earthwork has been truncated somewhat by roads on the northern and eastern sides. A single entrance exists on the southern side, but it is clear that a second entrance was formerly situated on the opposite, northern side, and was apparently flanked by two standing stones. Excavations were undertaken in 1937 by R Collingwood and continued in 1939 by G Bersu. Collingwood claimed to have identified a number of structures, represented by postholes and other features recognised at similar sites elsewhere in the country. Bersu was subsequently able to demonstrate that nearly all of these features were not of archaeological significance. The only one which may have been of importance was a "cremation trench" near the centre of the site which, although it contained little, Bersu accepted it may have been a disturbed grave. The two excavations and excavators have been compared by Richard Bradley. The site is now in the care of English Heritage.
More information : (NY 5233 2838) King Arthur's Round Table (NAT) Henge (NR) (1)

Excavation in 1937 by R G Collingwood was continued in 1939 by G Bersu. The work consists of a roughly circular area, enclosed by a ditch, beyond which is a berm and outer rampart, with a causewayed entrance on the SE. Within the enclosure is a slight circular platform. (see plan).
Parts of the bank and ditch, together with a north-west entrance, were destroyed when the roads were made or widened to the north and east. A sketch of the site by Dugdale shows that in the 17th c a large monolith stood on either side of the north-west entrance. The excavations showed that the ditch had been cleared out and reshaped and the entrance through it made narrower in modern times. There were no traces of prolonged ancient use of the central platform or of any structural arrangements in the gap through the bank. Neither were there signs of any wooden construction in the central area or indications of former standing stones. The "cremation trench" described by Collingwood was investigated by Bersu, who found no evidence that a cremation had taken place on the spot. If the trench had contained a cremation the burning must have taken place elsewhere. Alternatively it might have contained an inhumation, all traces of which had long since disappeared. No dateable objects were found. The "Round Table" was probably erected simply as a burial monument with a cairn in the middle. Roman coin of Gallienus (AD 253-68) found one foot down in central disc (3). (2-6)

Resurveyed at 1:2500. The earthworks are well preserved although partly destroyed by roads. (7)

Scheduled. (8)

King Arthur's Round Table at NY 5233 2838 was surveyed at 1:250 in 1988 by RCHME Newcastle as part of the Penrith Henges Survey; A full report is held in the NMR archive. The site is in the care of English Heritage and open to the public. It is situated in a field of permanent pasture on a river terrace; both the Little Round Table (NY 52 NW 3) and the site at Mayburgh (NY 52 NW 12) are visible from it. With its bank and internal ditch, and two opposing entrances, it can be classified as a henge, though the NW and NE sides, including the NW entrance are in part destroyed by modern public roads. The turf covered bank varies from 10m to 13m wide and from 0.5m to 1.85m in height. The U-shaped ditch, separated from the bank by a berm up to 7m wide, is from 12.5m to 16.2m wide and from 1.4m to 1.6m deep, but its present condition reflects 19th century attempts to landscape the monument, and need not represent its original form. The enclosed area measures 51.2m NW-SE by 44.1m transversely, but this too may have been altered in the 19th century. Central to it is a low platform, 0.35m high which mesaures 24.0m by 22.6m. The sole surviving entrance in the SE can be seen as a break in the bank, 7.8m wide, with a causeway over the ditch, 3.7m wide.
The archaeological history has been summarised in the archived account. In c.1664 Dugdale (10) sketched the remains, showing two opposing entrances with two standing stones, one either side of the N gap; the stones had disappeared when Stukely saw the monument in 1725 (11). In 1891, Dymond, (12) produced a comprehensive record of the remains. In late 1988 a geophysical survey (13) was commissioned to examine a quadrant in the N segment and the SE entrance. Results were directly affected by the 18th-19th century disturbances (full details in the archived account). (9)

Published report of the research by RCHME in 1988 of King Arthur's Round Table, Mayburgh and the Little Round Table, complete with plans, results of the geophysical survey and discussion of the sites. Only King Arthur's Round Table falls unequivocally into the category of a henge. (14)

NY 5233 2837. King Arthur's Round Table henge. Scheduled RSM No 23648. (15)

A consideration of the excavations of Collingwood and Bersu and their conflicting conclusions. (16)

King Arthur's Round Table. Included in a gazetteer of henges. (17)

A brief history and description of the site. (18)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1971
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : An inventory of the historical monuments in Westmorland
Source details :
Page(s) : 252-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Stukeley, W, 1776. Itinerarum Curiosum, 1776, pl 84
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details : Dymond, CW. Mayburgh and King Arthur's Round Table
Page(s) : 187-219
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 11, 1891
Source Number : 13
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Gater, JA, 1988. Report on the Geophysical Survey, Penrith Henges, Cumbria, Autumn 1988, Geophysical Surveys Ltd, Bradford.
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : The Penrith henges : a survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England
Source details :
Page(s) : 249-264
Figs. : 2,6,7
Plates : 14,15
Vol(s) : 58, 1992
Source Number : 15
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : English Heritage Scheduling Amendment 30/6/94
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 16
Source : Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Source details : Bradley, R. The philosopher and the field archaeologist: Collingwood, Bersu and the excavation of King Arthur's Round Table.
Page(s) : 27-34
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 60, 1994
Source Number : 17
Source : Henge monuments and related sites of Great Britain : air photographic evidence and catalogue
Source details :
Page(s) : 102-7
Figs. : 103-4
Plates :
Vol(s) : 175
Source Number : 18
Source : Heritage Unlocked: Guide to free sites in the North West
Source details :
Page(s) : 35
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details : Collingwood, RG. King Arthur's Round Table. Interim Report on the Excavtions of 1937.
Page(s) : Jan-31
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 38, 1938
Source Number : 4
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details : Bersu, G. King Arthur's Round Table. Final report, including the excavations of 1939, with an appendix on the Little Round Table.
Page(s) : 169-206
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 40, 1940
Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Dugdale, W. Heraldic Visitation of Westmorland and Cumberland 1664-65
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 251
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 5, 1939
Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 RL 23-AUG-65
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : County list of Scheduled Ancient Monuments : December 1987
Source details : Cumbria
Page(s) : 34
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Peter Topping and Keith Blood/1988/RCHME: Penrith Henges Survey
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Aubrey, J. Monumenta Britannica [1981: Little, Brown & Co, Boston]
Page(s) : 113
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Late Neolithic
Display Date : Late Neolithic
Monument End Date : -2200
Monument Start Date : -2900
Monument Type : Henge
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Later Prehistoric
Display Date : Later Prehistoric
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Cremation
Evidence : Conjectural Evidence
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Earthworks altered circa 1770-1829
Monument End Date : 1829
Monument Start Date : 1770
Monument Type : Garden Feature
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CU 134
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 23648
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 153
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NY 52 NW 2
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 12002
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 11981
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, KING ARTHUR'S ROUND TABLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1937-01-01
End Date : 1939-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NY 52 NW 2
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-08-23
End Date : 1965-08-23
Associated Activities : Primary, KING ARTHUR'S ROUND TABLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: PENRITH HENGES SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1988-09-06
End Date : 1989-01-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE SITES IN CUMBRIA
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31