The Meeting place of Four Kings in 926

Cumbria is littered with the evidence of our ancient past. Today I went to Mayburgh Henge, close to where I live, part of a three henge complex at least 5000 years old. It used to have four standing stones, but only one remains.

A few hundred yards away is what is locally known as Arthur’s Round Table, which is also circular, with a raised central stage, like an ampitheatre. 

A third henge was destroyed a hundred years ago by road building. Mayburgh is gigantic – surrounded by a circular boundary of stones, four metres high, now covered over with grass and oak trees. 
Mayburgh is where, in 926, King Athelstan (grandson of King Alfred of the burnt cakes) met with King Owain of Strathclyde and Cumbria, Constantine, King of the Scots, King Hywel Dda of Wales and Earl Ealdred of Northumberland. Each of the kings would have had a considerable retinue, but Mayburgh is big enough to accommodate over a thousand people. Here the Kings agreed the Treaty of Eamont Bridge, which effectively made Athelstan King of all England. The kings then rode to Dacre, where there was a monastery, established in 713 (later demolished by the Vikings). There’s a moated Norman castle now at Dacre, and a church where the monastery was. But in the ancient, overgrown churchyard four strange, carved figures, pre-Saxon, believed to be pagan.

It’s a fascinating place, thick with yew trees, and one of the old graves, twined with ivy, and with its own sundial, looks like Aslan’s Table or something else out of mythology. Made me realise that in 5000 years time none of this Boris/Trump/Covid stuff will really matter.


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