First-time dig of King Arthur's tomb begins

Amy Christie

A connection between Arthur's Stone and the ruler of Camelot was proposed before the 13th century. As legend holds, the 5000-year-old tomb holds strong connections to King Arthur.

What are the details?

Arthur's Stone, located in the West Midlands of England, has been linked to the mythical leader for a long time.

Popular lore points to the day King Arthur found a pebble in his shoe as he was marching into battle. He threw it aside, and at that point, the pebble grew in size due to "pride at having been touched by him," according to Atlas Obscura.

A different story says Arthur met a giant, and they clashed until the giant's elbows left massive impressions in the place where he was defeated and passed away.

Beyond the myths, the tomb has long intrigued the experts and the public. And now, the first excavation of this site is set to shed more insight into the history, according to James Thomas from the Hereford Times.

A team of researchers from English Heritage, the charity that preserved the monument, and the University of Manchester are unlikely to find the remains of the king of Camelot, but they believe they can find traces of the Neolithic Britons who built the tomb and made use of it.

Even though archaeologists initially believed that Arthur's Stone was part of a wedge-shaped stone cairn, just like those located in the Cotswolds and South Wales, recent excavations have changed the assumption.

"I think it has considerable potential. It is a monument of an entirely different kind to the one that we'd imagined," Julian Thomas, who is an archaeologist at the University of Manchester, said for the London Times.

Only the inner chamber of the tomb, which consists of nine upright stones that are topped by a capstone weighing over 25 tons, survives today, according to a statement. In a previous dig that took place outside the monument, it was uncovered that Arthur's Stone underwent two different phases of construction and extended toward a field to the south.

In the beginning, the tomb was made of a southwest-facing long mound that was surrounded by wooden posts. Once that mound fell, the Neolithic residents in the area reinforced the site with a large avenue of posts, an upright stone, and two rock chambers. And this time, the posts were facing southeast.

"The initial emphasis was on the internal relationships between the monuments that make up the complex but later, the focus shifts outward," Thomas said for Live Science.
The archaeologist believes that Arthur's Stone and two halls of the dead that were once close by may form a complex where people came for "gatherings, feasting, and meetings; a place that retained its significance for centuries."

The public will get the chance to watch the researchers as they work on Arthur's Stone, and tours will be offered throughout the dig.

Through storytelling and manuscripts, Arthurian legends were shared widely during the 12th and 13th centuries. Even though earlier lore emphasized his strength and skills for building a nation, the stories eventually became a part of the medieval romance tradition yearning for morality and chivalry.

Per English Heritage, Arthur's Stone was first linked to the legendary king in the 13th century, but its fame stayed alive in the centuries that followed.

Charles I camped in this area in the 17th century with his troops, and C. S. Lewis, who often walked by the site, based the story The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on it.

"Arthur's Stone is one of the country's outstanding prehistoric monuments, set in a breathtaking location—yet it remains poorly understood. Our work is about restoring it to its rightful place in the story of Neolithic Britain," Thomas concluded.

Sources:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/archaeologists-begin-first-ever-excavation-of-king-arthurs-tomb-180980362/

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/arthurs-stone/

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/arthurs-stone/history/

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/king-arthurs-tomb-dig-to-unearth-secrets-of-ancient-britain-nbctbvdc5

https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/julian.thomas.html

https://www.livescience.com/

https://www.cotswolds.com/

https://www.herefordtimes.com/news/20244603.archaeologists-dig-herefordshire-tomb-first-time/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Arthurian-legend

https://www.britannica.com/topic/King-Arthur

https://www.instagram.com/officialuom/

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

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