The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland

Mayburgh Henge, Eamont Bridge, Cumbria

OS grid reference: NY 5192 2847. The Mayburgh Henge monument is, in fact, a former Neolithic stone circle that is located beside the M6 motorway and the B5320 road, close to the river Eamont at Eamont Bridge, Yanwath, about half a mile south of Penrith. And a little to the east is a second henge-type monument called King Arthur’s Round Table. So, here we have two ancient monuments for the price of one!

The raised bank or mound with trees dotted around it is 4-5 metres high in places and is formed from cobbled stones that came from the bed of the river. Within the raised, circular bank there is a flat plateau that is about half a hectare or 110 metres in dimensions. At the centre stands a single standing stone (menhir) that is 2.7 metres high; but originally there were others stones here making up a circle, of sorts. Four more stones stood around the centre and another 2 or possibly 4 more stones were located by the entrance portal at the eastern-side. Certainly in the middle ages the stone circle was largerly intact, however by the early 18th century some of the stones had been robbed-away and in the Victorian age only one remained. The henge has been dated to the Late Neolithic period around 2,000 BC.

To the east of Mayburgh is another Late Neolithic site known as King Arthur’s Round Table. This is also a henge monument that has a circular, raised earthwork enclosed within a ditch, though the difference being that the raised bank is just outside the ditch. The henge is roughly 91 metres in diameter. There are two entrance portals here that are 18 metres across. A low mound at the centre is said to be recent in date, perhaps due to disturbances and excavations that occured here in the Victorian period. Although the henge is called King Arthur’s Round Table, because that is what it looks like, there is no real reason to think the mythical king ever visited the place.

David Berry

King Arthur’s Round Table. (Photo Credit: David Berry (Wikipedia)

The course of a long forgotten Roman road from Manchester via Ribchester originally ran just to the west of the two prehistoric henge monuments, but sadly the motorway and railway line were built over that – the M6 more or less following the course of the Roman road north to Carlisle (Luguulium). There was a Roman fort just west of Eamont Bridge at Brougham or the Latin name Brocauum. So the Romans may well have looked on with a degree of awe at the site of these two raised sites, in particular the stone circle of the Mayburgh henge that would, at that time, have looked really quite grand.