King Arthur’s Round Table (also called Ringe-dyke meaning circular ditch) is a class 2 Henge it remains a mutilated circular enclosure consisting of a bank with internal ditch. It is located on the southern side of Eamont bridge and is in a corner between 2 roads
In the first half of the 18th century a plan was drawn up showing two large stones outside the destroyed entrance. At one time there were probably more stones in and around it. On the east side of the central platform a cremation trench was discovered containing bone and hazel charcoal, the cremation had been carried out elsewhere, these remains were dated as late Neolithic to early Bronze age and had been covered by some structure using stone blocks, Originally the round earthwork was a flat-topped bank 10 metres wide and 1.5 metres high surrounding the ditch. Two entrances and two causeways lined up with each other, although one was destroyed when the road to Tirril was built.
In approximately 1538, Leland recorded this earthwork as ‘the round table or ‘Arture’s Castle’. The site was first recorded properly by Sir William Dugdale in the 1660s
In 1820 William Bushby, the owner of the Crown Hotel, raised the central platform by 1,000 cubic metres with stone and gravel. He used the inner face of the bank, producing the present deep-scarped inner face, he also deepened the ditch. Bushby used to put out tables and serve his customers there. It was found that the entrance had been widened to the East and the causeway narrowed from the East, possibly by Bushby. The henge was recorded in 1889 by CW Dymond by then the roads had encroached on the monument destroying the northern entrance.
Professor R.G. Collingwood and his team started to carry out an archaeological excavation in 1937/8 this was continued by G Bersu when Collingwood took ill. Bersu was a brilliant excavator but his work revealed little about the true nature of this monument although they found what had been a fire pit and some holes where it was believed some wooden posts had been. He concluded that the site was a Bronze age sepulchral monument and may have been a mounded barrow at some time. The digging came to an abrupt end when photographs of some of the bridges in the area were found in the Crown Hotel bedroom of a German member of the team. It was the time of the “phoney war” and suspicions were aroused.
It is stated in further documentation that evidence of a wooden building made of concentric rings of wooden posts supporting some form of roof (probably thatch) was excavated there. W.G. Collingwood suggested that it was a kind of primitive temple raised over the cremation of a dead hero.
Sir Walter Scott described Arthur’s Round Table as “for feats of chivalry renowned”. It is thought to have been constructed in 1,800 B.C. The common was enclosed in 1815 when it was resolved that the plough should not infringe on the Round Table.
It was in use in 3 different periods in prehistoric times and according to Stukeley it was occupied as a camping ground by Charles 11 on his way to Worcester.
We find in the history books that King Arthur was frequently in this part of the country. His 7th battle with the Saxon’s was at SYLVA CALEDONIS (generally supposed to be Inglewood Forest) where he gained a significant victory. There is a large hollowed out sandstone block known as Arthur’s Cup standing in the Crown Hotel Yard. Little is known about this artifact, except that it was at one time used as a drinking trough for animals.
In Pennant’s book a Little Round Table is shown as lying about 150 meters south of King Arthur’s Round Table, with a diameter of 300 ft. Consisting of a low circular bank and surrounded by a ditch, all that can be seen of it now is a slight hollow at the edge of the field to the right of Lowther entrance. Part of the circle is in the wood, and the rest was destroyed by the making of Countess Drive at the entrance to Lowther Park some years ago. It was described in 1776 as being 300 feet in diameter with a small vallum the ditch outermost with 1000 feet separating it from King Arthurs round table to the north.