The Truth Behind the Legend of the 'Sword in the Stone'

The Sword in the Stone is one of the most easily identifiable elements from the legends of King Arthur. This famous sword has found its way into numerous media forms. It is also notably regarded as a critical element of the story of King Arthur. 

This is not a surprise, considering that this very reason is the reason why Arthur rose to the king’s throne in the first place. It is safe to say, though, that without this sword, the rest of his life story would never happen at all. 

But if you consider its apparent fundamental role in the Arthurian role, it is only natural for people to ask and be curious if the existence of the Sword in the Stone has any historical basis, or if it was nothing but a mere figment of the imagination of a medieval writer. 

Before we finally unravel the truth behind the legend of the Sword in the Stone, let us go back in time a bit to be more familiar with what exactly the sword was supposed to have been based on the legends surrounding it and its existence.

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The Story of Arthur

According to the story, the Sword in the Stone was found in the churchyard of St. Paul’s Cathedral located in London. The sword bore an inscription that stated that only the rightful king of Britain can remove it from its place as it pierces an anvil on top of a stone. 

One day, Kay, the foster brother of Arthur, was about to take part in a contest only to realize that he didn’t have his sword with him. He then asked Arthur to find a sword for him. On his way, however, Arthur spotted the Sword in the Stone. 

Without any idea about its significance, Arthur withdrew the sword from its spot and brought it to his brother Kay. The older brother recognized the sword right away and it then ultimately led to all the people accepting Arthur as Britain’s rightful king. 

This was how the story went but how much of this is true? 

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Of course, if ever there is any trace of truth behind this story, it was possibly far removed from how the existing story presents things.

The Truth Behind the Legend of the 'Sword in the Stone'

The Many Theories 

There are several proposed theories to explain the legendary Sword in the Stone of Arthur. The first one is based on a theory with Arthur being Artuir mac Aedan, an Irish prince, with the stone being the Stone of Scone. 

It is a theory based on the lack of similarity between the historical ceremony that involves using the Stone of Scone and the Arthurian story. Artuir was never a king either, so he probably didn’t perform the ceremony. 

Another theory has something to do with the London Stone, although it is severely weakened by the lack of evidence that the actions of Jack Cade reflected a traditional ceremony that goes back to Arthur’s time. It is also impossible for Arthur to have been active in London. 

Another theory was about the Sword of the Stone being Peter’s sword, which is a symbol of the religious authority that only the rightful king can own. It is backed up by the fact that during the story’s earliest account, there is an extremely strong religious element to the proceedings. 

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Also, the expression that could have been the basis of the story could have been possibly used during Arthur’s time because it is known that Britain’s kings at that time considered themselves Christians. 

While the truth about the Sword in the Stone remains vague, one thing is for sure. It is an interesting story that will continue to be passed on to the next generations.


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