Joseph Mallord William Turner

Mayburgh Henge and King Arthur’s Round Table, Eamont Bridge, Penrith


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVI 29 a

Catalogue entry

On this page Turner made studies and notes about the standing stone at Mayburgh Henge to help with his illustration to volume 11 (The Bridal of Triermain) of Sir Walter Scott’s Poetical Works: Mayburgh circa 1832 (whereabouts unknown).1 There are four views of the stone, as well as a diagram, a sketch of the Mayburgh site and another sketch that may show another henge – King Arthur’s Round Table (see folio 28 verso; D25816).
As Jan Piggott has deduced, the four sketches of the stone are each from different points of the compass, and are inscribed accordingly: ‘W’est, ‘N’orth, and ‘E’ast, with the remaining view from the south. A diagram at the top left of the page shows the circular shape of the site with the stone marked in the middle, and a double-headed arrow indicating the distance between the stone and the perimeter: ‘50 paces’.
The boxed off sketch at the bottom left, and the sketch to its right which extends to folio 30 (D25819), may not be of the same site. The left sketch is evidently Mayburgh with the stone at its heart; Turner has taken care to indicate that the henge forms a basin shape with a bank around its perimeter. The sketch on the right, however, appears to drop down to a ditch around the central circle, and there is no sign of a standing stone. These features are consistent with another henge, King Arthur’s Round Table, which is almost 200 metres to the east of Mayburgh at the edge of Eamont Bridge and is depicted on folios 28 verso and 30 (D25816, D25819).

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.429 no.1091.

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