A team of archaeologists from The University of Manchester has commenced an excavation at a 5,000-year-old tomb associated with the legendary King Arthur.
The primary aim of this endeavor is to shed light on the perplexing aspects surrounding this enigmatic site. Collaborating with English Heritage, the organization responsible for preserving Arthur’s Stone in Herefordshire, the experts are carefully removing the turf to expose and document the exceptionally delicate archaeological remnants.
Despite the fact that Arthur’s Stone is a Neolithic chambered tomb that has never undergone excavation, English Heritage indicates that similar tombs in the vicinity have previously revealed incomplete skeletal remains of multiple individuals, as well as arrowheads, flint flakes, and pottery.
The present state of the site only includes the remaining large stones of the inner chamber, which are positioned within an uncertain mound of earth and stones whose original size and form are unknown.
The chamber itself consists of nine erect stones, with an immense capstone weighing over 25 tonnes resting on top. This tomb, much like numerous prehistoric monuments found in the western regions of England and Wales, has been associated with King Arthur since before the 13th century.
Legend has it that it was at this location where Arthur vanquished a giant, who, as he fell, left the impression of his elbows on one of the stones. The area is believed to have inspired C.S. Lewis in creating the fictional world of Narnia, with Arthur’s Stone serving as inspiration for the stone table upon which Aslan the Lion is sacrificed in “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
“According to Ginny Slade, the volunteer manager at English Heritage, “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.”
“Our team of wonderful volunteers will be on hand to explain the latest findings as they happen—we’re asking people to book in advance to make sure everyone has a chance to enjoy this great opportunity.”
The excavation follows previous research conducted by the Universities of Manchester and Cardiff, located just south of the monument. This previous study has already influenced the understanding of the site’s orientation and origins.
Previously, it was believed that Arthur’s Stone was situated within a wedge-shaped stone cairn, resembling those found in the Cotswolds and South Wales.
However, Professor Julian Thomas from Manchester and Professor Keith Ray from Cardiff conducted research and discovered that the monument originally extended into a field southwest of its current location.
It is now believed that the structure may have taken the form of a low turf mound with rounded ends.
Professors Thomas and Ray, along with students from Cardiff University and several American institutions, will lead the upcoming excavation efforts.
To enhance the understanding and significance of the stones, English Heritage has enlisted a team of volunteers who will work alongside the archaeologists and provide guided tours of the excavation site. Pre-booked tours are now available for reservation online.