The Winchester Round Table
is a massive circular wooden table, 18 feet in diameter, that hangs in the Great Hall
of Winchester Castle
. Constructed of 121 separate pieces of oak and weighing in at 1.25 tons, the table presently bears and elaborate painting of King Arthur
which bears remarkable resemblance to King Henry VII
, as well as the names of 24 Knights of the Round Table
. The painting was apparently completed on the orders of Henry VII just prior to a visit by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V
to Winchester in 1522
. Henry VIII had just recently lost out to Charles in a bid for the Imperial Crown probably wanted to remind the Emperor of his alleged descent from King Arthur and thus ultimately from Roman Emperor Constantine the Great
There has been some suggestion that the table may have been first painted earlier, perhaps in 1516 or 1517, as X-Ray imaging has revealed an earlier portrait of King Arthur beneath the present one which is said to resemble a slightly younger Henry VII. In any case, the table had hung in the castle unpainted for several centuries before that. Many people, including printer William Caxton and Henry VII himself, believed the table to be the actual Round Table of King Arthur, and the table is the likely explanation for why Sir Thomas Malory identifies Winchester as the original site of Camelot in Le Morte d'Arthur.
The table is of much too recent origin, however, to have existed anytime near King Arthur's supposed reign. The table was not first mentioned in writing until 1463, and radio-carbon dating dates it to 1255 (+/-16), while dendrochronology dates it to 1224 (+/-1). Allowing for finishing and weathering, the table could have been constructed no earlier than 1250 and no later than 1280, giving an approximate date of 1270. This date sounds reasonable, because it would put the table's construction in the reign of King Edward I, noted Arthurophile who presided over the opening of Arthur's alleged tomb at Glastonbury Abbey, and was fond of holding King Arthur-themed tournaments.
The 25 knights listed on the table are, with more common spellings in parenthesis: Sir Galahallt (Sir Galahad), Sir Launcelot Deulake (Sir Lancelot du lac), Sir Gauen (Sir Gawain), Sir Percyvale (Sir Percival), Sir Lyonell (Sir Lionel), Sir Trystram Delyens (Tristan of Lyoness), Sir Garethe, (Sir Gareth), Sir Bedwere (Sir Bedevere), Sir Blubrys (Sir Bleoberis), Sir Lacotemale Tayle (Sir Brunor le Noir, La Cote Mal Taile), Sir Lucane (Sir Lucan), Sir Plomyde (Sir Palomides), Sir Lamorak, Sir Bors De Ganys, (Sir Bors de Ganis), Sir Safer, Sir Pelleus (Sir Pelleas), Sir Kay, Sir Ectorde Marys (Sir Ector de Maris), Sir Dagonet, Sir Degore, Sir Brumear (Sir Brunor), Sir Lybyus Dysconyus (Sir Guinglain, Le Bel Desconneu), Sir Alynore (Sir Alymere), Sir Pellinor (King Pellinore), Sir Mordrede (Mordred).
For a decent picture of the table, see http://220.127.116.11/dept/modlang/talarico/rndtbl.htm