Joseph Mallord William Turner

King Arthur’s Round Table, Eamont Bridge, Penrith

1831

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 114 × 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25816
Turner Bequest CCLXVI 28 a

Catalogue entry

This drawing, assumed by Finley to be a ‘lake with houses’,1 and by Jan Piggott to be Mayburgh Henge (as in folios 24 verso–28, 29 verso and 30; D25805–D28815, D25818, D25819),2 is in fact neither, though Piggott was close geographically and thematically. It is another henge, just 200 metres from Mayburgh, called King Arthur’s Round Table.3
This site is distinguished by the absence of any standing stones (as in Mayburgh), by the presence of buildings around it, and by the fact that it is a plateau rather than a basin.
The view is probably looking east as the village of Eamont Bridge can be seen on its north and east sides, and the entrances at the north and south may be indicated by curved lines at the left and right (though these may just be to indicate the angle of the slope). Above the trees to the right of the sketch is a towered building that may perhaps be Brougham Hall, just across the River Eamont.
As he did on folio 29 verso (D25818) with Mayburgh, Turner has roughly measured the dimensions of the site. A line bisecting the dimension of the plateau is inscribed ‘60’, while the ditch and the bank are each marked ‘14’. Judging from the inscription on folio 29 verso, these are ‘paces’. Turner’s pace must have been almost exactly a metre as the total diameter of the site (including the banks and ditches) is 90 metres.
The sketch continues slightly onto folio 29 (D25817). There is also a slight sketch on folio 29 verso, and another on folio 30.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

1
Finberg 1909, II, p.855, CCLXVI 28a.
2
Piggott 1993, p.88.
3
Incidently Gerald Finley conflated the two sites in his account of Turner’s illustrations to Scott, Gerald Finley, Landscapes of Memory: Turner as Illustrator to Scott, London 1980, p.91.

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