King kingdom

An ancient tomb linked by legend to King Arthur will be excavated for the first time

An ancient tomb in the UK, older than the Great Pyramids, is excavated for the first time.

“Arthur’s Stone is one of this country’s most remarkable prehistoric monuments, set in a breathtaking location – but it remains poorly understood,” Professor Julian Thomas of the University of Manchester said in a press release. . “Our work aims to restore it to its rightful place in the history of Neolithic Britain.”

The tomb – located in Herefordshire, England – takes its name from supposed links to the mythical ruler.

“Like many prehistoric monuments in the west of England and Wales, this tomb has been linked to King Arthur since before the 13th century,” English Heritage said on its website. “According to legend, it was here that Arthur killed a giant who left the imprint of his elbows on one of the stones when he fell.”

The tomb is at least 3,500 years older than the legend of King Arthur, whose stories took place in the 5th and 6th centuries and were first mentioned centuries later. In more modern times, the site was believed to have inspired the stone table in C. S. Lewis’s book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The site is a Neolithic burial chamber, which from the outside appears as a set of stones surmounted by a large slab:

Arthur’s Stone was a prehistoric burial chamber formed from huge blocks of stone. The mound of earth that once covered it has been worn away.

English Heritage/Heritage Images via Getty Images

But centuries ago it was probably an inner chamber covered with a mound of earth. English Heritage artwork has attempted to capture what the site looked like centuries ago. A cutaway shows what it might have looked like inside the mound:

English Heritage artwork has attempted to capture what the site looked like centuries ago.
English Heritage artwork has attempted to capture what the site looked like centuries ago.

English Heritage/Heritage Images via Getty Images

“The grave has never been excavated, but similar examples in this area contain incomplete skeletal remains of several people, as well as flint shards, arrowheads and pottery,” English Heritage said on its website. Internet.

Another work depicts a burial on the site:

Artistic representation of a burial at Arthur's Stone.
Artistic representation of a burial at Arthur’s Stone.

English Heritage/Heritage Images via Getty Images

Archaeologists believe Arthur’s Stone was also a place where rituals for ancestors may have taken place.

Nearby excavations last year challenged conventional wisdom about the site. The tomb was believed to have a right-angled passage in a wedge-shaped stone cairn. Instead, archaeologists found Arthur’s Stone had long since spread into what is now a nearby field, according to the University of Manchester.

“They discovered that the tomb had first been a long mound consisting of stacked turf, held up by a palisade of vertical posts set into a narrow palisade surrounding the mound,” the university said in a press release. “However, when the posts rotted and the mound collapsed, an avenue of taller posts was added, leading down to the mound from the golden valley below.”

New excavation at the site of the stone itself will continue throughout this month.