Arthur's Castle

Has been described as a Rejected Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameArthur's Castle
Alternative NamesKing Arthur's Round Table
Historic CountryWestmorland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishYanwath And Eamont Bridge

Less than a mile from Penrith, but in Westmorland, are the ruins of what is supposed to have been a castle. It stands on what is virtually an island, less than a bowshot from the Lowther on one side and the River Eamont on the other. This ruin is called by some the Round Table, and by others Arthur's Castle. (Leland)

Despite some mutilation of the monument's bank and ditch by road construction, King Arthur's Round Table survives well and remains a visually impressive monument in the landscape. It is one of three henges clustered near to the confluence of the Rivers Eamont and Lowther and is a good example of this class of monument. Limited excavation during the 1930s located human remains, and the monument will contain further evidence of the activities undertaken within the internal area.

The monument is a henge known as King Arthur's Round Table, thought to have been constructed between 2000 - 1000 BC. It is located on a comparatively flat alluvial river terrace a short distance from the confluence of the Rivers Eamont and Lowther, and includes a partly mutilated earthen bank and internal ditch enclosing a flat circular area. The west arc of the bank is the more complete and measures 10m-13m in width by 0.5m-1.7m high. The short surviving length of bank in the east arc measures a maximum of 10.5m wide by 1.85m high. Elsewhere the bank has been levelled by road construction. There is an entrance 7.8m wide through the bank on the monument's southern side. This entrance becomes a causeway 3.7m wide across the ditch and gives access into the henge's interior. Between the bank and ditch is a berm up to 7m wide. The ditch has a regular broad U-shaped profile and measures 12.5m-16.2m wide with a depth of 1.4m-1.6m. The interior of the monument surrounded by the ditch is elliptical in shape, measuring 51.2m north east-south west by 44.1m transversely. Roughly in the centre is a low sub-oval platform up to 0.35m high and measuring 24m by 22.6m

Limited excavation of the monument during the 1930s located a trench containing cremated bone close to the centre of the henge. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Clearly Leland did not believe this to have actually been a castle. There are two (and were three) very similar ring banks in the area described by Leland. The one know called Mayburgh Henge, at NY51922842, is on a slight knoll and is slightly larger and may have been what Leland was referring too. However the henge now known as King Arthur's Round Table, although on lower ground is better preserved and somewhat more visually impressive on close examination and is generally assumed to be the site Leland was describing (He may have been considering all three ring banks as one site). In Leland's time the area may have been more marshy and Mayburgh, in particular, may, at times of flood, have been effectively an island.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY523283
Latitude54.6482582092285
Longitude-2.74028992652893
Eastings352330
Northings528380
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Matthew Emmott. All rights reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print

Books

  • RCHME, 1936, An inventory of the historical monuments in Westmorland (HMSO) p. 252-3 nos. 12 plan, 13, 14 [plan > http://www.british-history.ac.uk/image.aspx?compid=120837&filename=fig153.jpg&pubid=1297] [online transcription > http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=120837]

Antiquarian

  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 483-4
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 47 online copy