Wednesday, 15 July 2009
The Round Table, Winchester: a sign of equality
Unused, bought June 2009.
King Arthur's Round Table, Winchester Castle
The card shows the Round Table hanging in the Great Hall in Winchester. It is called King Arthur's Round Table though the name can be disputed on at least two points: first,
a round table isn't described until the 12th century although Arthur was king during the 6th century; second, examination by various scientific methods has dated the table to the 1270s.
Nevertheless, the table remains a symbol, a sign, of equality. There is no head of the table so all who are seated around it are deemed equal. According to history, it was created to prevent quarrels among the knights, none of whom wanted to be seated below others. The names of the 24 knights are written around the edge of the table.
The Round Table later becomes a sign of the order of chivalry in Arthur's time. These were knights created in glorified imitation of the crusading knights, and became very idealised and romantic. They followed a strict code of honour, with the table less of an actual table and more the sign of the highest order of chivalry.