Winchester is perhaps best known as being the capital of the kingdom of Wessex in Saxon Britain but it’s also home to one of this legends most iconic artifacts, the round table, held in Winchester Castle. Of course there is no doubt that this is not the real table, nevertheless it still attracts tourists from all over who wish to see some sort of connection to the story. Though it may not possess it’s supposed legendary heritage, the table dates back to the 13th Century. The table was initially unpainted though later Henry VIII himself had the table painted to further illustrate its ties to Arthur, along with his own. There were many that said the Tudors had a poor claim to the throne, in an attempt to combat those beliefs they began to suggest that their bloodline was tied to Arthur’s in order to solidify their place in power.
The table holds significance in the story due to its metaphoric display of the power balance between that of the Knights of the Round Table. According to the earlier stories many of the knights would fight over who sat where at the table, basically over who was a more important member of King Arthur’s court. In one story it even caused a fight during the Winter celebrations. Arthur in his wisdom had a round table built so that each knight would have an equal standing at it and nobody would be unhappy with their position.
According to the legend, once Arthur had died of his wounds that he received in his final battle against the Saxons he was laid to rest in the mythical land of Avalon. Supposedly he was brought to this island in hopes that his wounds would be cured, though unfortunately they were too grave and it was here he would see his story end. Some believe that Glastonbury once the area was surrounded by water making it seem like a seperate island, hinting that it may be the destination of that legendary Isle.
Here at Glastonbury Abbey you can actually visit the graves of both Arthur and Guinevere where their bodies were supposedly uncovered in 1191. Beneath the grounds a solid oak trunk was found and on it written in latin was the sentence “Here lies interred the famous King Arthur on the Isles of Avalon”. The site where the bodies were found can still be viewed today, though many doubt the legitimacy of it’s claims. If you take a visit to Caernarfon Castle in North Wales there is extensive coverage of King Edward I’s discovery of the bodies, here it claims that it was in fact part of a plan to secure England’s rule over the land. The Welsh believed that Arthur had not in fact died but gone into a state of constant sleep, one day he would awake and return to save his people from a great evil and return order to the lands. By finding the bodies Edward hoped to crush this dream along with the nations spirits. Is it Edward’s ruse or the mythical land of Avalon? You’ll have to decide that for yourself.