Digging has begun at Arthur’s Stone: an ancient tomb in Herefordshire, UK, linked to the mythical King Arthur.
The tomb is actually some 5000 years old – making it about 3500 years older than the supposed age of the fabled king.
So, while they’re not expecting to find a holy grail, the archaeologists excavating the tomb for the first time hope to learn more about the Neolithic people who built it.
“Arthur’s Stone is one of the country’s most significant Stone Age monuments, and this excavation gives a really rare and exciting chance for members of the public to come and see archaeology in action,” Ginny Slade, volunteer manager at English Heritage, said in a statement.
Arthur’s Stone is a tomb made up of nine upright stones. A 25-tonne capstone sits on top.
Similar tombs have yielded skeletal remains, flint flakes, arrowheads and pottery – but presumably no shrubberies (that’s another one for the Monty Python fans out there).
King Arthur has been linked to Arthur’s Stone since at lease the 13th Century. Legend has it he killed a giant who elbowed one of the stones and left an impression as he fell. (A flesh wound.)
“Arthur’s Stone is one of this country’s outstanding prehistoric monuments, set in a breathtaking location – yet it remains poorly understood,” said Professor Julian Thomas, an archaeologist at Manchester University, who will co-lead the excavation.
“Our work seeks to restore it to its rightful place in the story of Neolithic Britain.”
Ellen Phiddian is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a BSc (Honours) in chemistry and science communication, and an MSc in science communication, both from the Australian National University.
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