Archaeology Magazine Archive

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Tuscan Excalibur? Volume 55 Number 1, January/February 2002
by Roberto Bartoloni

[image] "Italian Excalibur" (Courtesy Luigi Garlaschelli) [LARGER IMAGE]

For centuries skeptics have questioned the legend of the "Italian Excalibur," a sword allegedly plunged into a stone by Galgano Guidotti, a twelfth-century knight who gave up warmongering to become a hermit and, after his death, was made a saint. A University of Pavia team recently decided to investigate the legend, and confirmed that the style and composition of the sword, still displayed in its rock in a small chapel in Tuscany, is consistent with Guidotti's time. A ground-penetrating radar survey of the chapel revealed an underground cavity near the stone that may be Guidotti's tomb, while two mummified hands displayed in the chapel, allegedly from someone who attempted to remove the sword, have been carbon-dated to the twelfth century. Further research into Guidotti's sword is expected, but readers should be informed that the sword was easily removable from the stone until 1924, when the crevice was filled with lead.

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America