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Learning English - Beyond the Postcard
  Winchester text

Arthur's Round Table
The story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is part of British folk history. He was a powerful king with a magical sword, Excalibur, and a group of loyal soldiers, called knights. But did he really exist?

Read this text about Arthur, then try the vocabulary exercise below. The exercise is based on the meanings of the words in bold.

  Winchester The Round Table
Many places in England, particularly in the south and west, claim connections with King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Yet even today, with all the tools of modern archaeology, it’s still impossible to know whether such a king existed, or whether his story is simply a legend.

Certainly there are historical references to a leader called Arthur, who lived around the end of the fifth century. He had already become something of a folk hero by the ninth century as a warrior king. But none of the information that has come down to us is very reliable.What is certain is that the ideas of honour and chivalry that we associate with King Arthur were not much in evidence in that period of British history, rightly known as the Dark Ages.

Great HallAnd yet Arthur’s Round Table exists - in Winchester. It is inside the magnificent Great Hall, the only part of the former Winchester Castle that remains intact. Although the table once had twelve legs, has a diameter of 18 feet (5.4 metres) and weighs nearly one and a half tons, it has hung on the wall for centuries. It has this inscription:

"This is the round table of Arthur with 24 of his named knights."

Unfortunately scientific tests have shown that is unlikely. The table was made at some time between 1250 and 1280 - about thirty years after the Hall itself was built. The table was painted (or, just possibly, re-painted) in 1520, on the instructions of King Henry VIII. Indeed, there are those who say that the face of the king painted on the table could easily be a likeness of the young Henry - a piece of flattery by a court painter, rather than a portrait of an Arthur who may, after all, never have existed.

Exercise - Vocabulary

Look at the definitions below. Each one is for a word in bold in the text. Choose the word or expression from the list on the right which matches the definition.

1: the science of studying old, historical remains  
2: probably not true  
3: not destroyed, surviving  
4: soldier  
5: say that something is true  
6: important historical story which is actually not true  
7: trustworthy, believable  
8: people of a country, not the kings and queens  
9: behaviour or action which makes something seem better than it really is  
Check your answers Check your answers

Links for more information
The Great Hall and Round Table - More information about the Great Hall in Winchester
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