Recently I have been reading a book by John Buchan (he of the 39 Steps)entitled “Montrose”. It covers the story of the Earl of Montrose, James Graham, during the time of the Covenanters in Scotland in the mid-1640s. That in itself may not seem too important, however, there was something mentioned on page 62 which pricked up my own ears. I will quote one sentence from that page.
“With the sanction of the Lord Advocate, Sir Thomas Hope, the malcontents organized themselves into a body of commissioners – four committees of nobles, lairds, burgesses, and ministers, henceforth to be known as “The Tables””.
The idea that a group of people could make up a Table reminded me immediately of the Round Table of King Arthur and his knights. Buchan continues to mention the Tables quite often in this book, and he is always referring to the people on the committees, NOT a particular piece of furniture.
I know that some people have suggested that the Round Table may have been a hill with a flat top from which people could see who was there and hear what was agreed. I also know that King Arthur is said to have been from different areas, such as South West England, Wales, Scotland and North East England, and so was Merlin, so it is possible that the table is more Celtic than post Roman.
Buchan’s book was written in 1928 and extremely well researched. He also indicates that he had a personal library with documents and books which would be extremely rare and expensive both then, and today. This is the first time I have heard the word table used in this precise way, and it is clearly something the Scots were familiar with.
Could it be that the Round Table of Arthurian Legend was also just a name given to the group of knights, rather than a specific piece of furniture?
Just a thought.
Does anyone else have any information that could throw further light on this matter?