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1001 Stories Collection

The Sword in the Stone

1001 swordinthestone
Added on 08th July 2020

Oral tradition British legend

Whispering Wood City of Stories UK and Ireland Action and adventure Myths and legends
1001 , Audio

The story of how the boy Arthur was revealed as the rightful King of the Britons.

Story

The King of Britain, Uther Pendragon, dies, leaving no heir to the throne. As his most powerful knights fight to decide who will succeed, a mysterious sword appears in a stone. Whoever pulls the sword from the stone will be the next king.

Why we chose it

The legends of Arthur and Merlin contain ideas of destiny and chivalry, wise wizards and magical objects that still run through stories today like Lord of the Rings, The Dark is Rising and Harry Potter.

Where it came from

King Arthur appears in myths and legends from the medieval period. He may have been based on a historical figure, a military leader in Roman Britain, who fought against the Saxons in the 5th and 6th century and who appears in Welsh stories. In the 9th century Nennius of Wales wrote a History of the Britons which lists a number of battles which at which Arthur fought and which records his death in 537AD. The Arthur of the legends is mentioned in the Mabinogi, a collection of Welsh stories. In the 12th century Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote The History of the Kings of Britain bringing the stories of Merlin and Arthur together and introducing the sword.

Where it went next

Stories about Arthur, Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table appear all over Europe. Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur was published in 1485. There have been numerous retellings and stories based on the legends. One of the most famous novel adaptations is T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone, which was published in 1938. Walt Disney made a film version of the novel in 1963. “The Sword in the Stone” is also a two-part episode in the 2011 BBC series Merlin.

Associated stories

Stories of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table continue to inspire authors and film-makers. Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Arthur Trilogy (The Seeing Stone, King of the Middle March, At the Crossing Places,) tells the story of King Arthur alongside that of a boy living on a medieval manor. Philip Reeve gives the story a twist with his Here Lies Arthur which won the 2008 Carnegie medal.

Television retellings include the traditional The Legend of King Arthur (1979) and the popular 2011 BBC fantasy drama Merlin

In the museum

Find the story - and the sword - in The Whispering Wood and in City of Stories.

Added on 08th July 2020

Oral tradition British legend

Whispering Wood City of Stories UK and Ireland Action and adventure Myths and legends
1001 , Audio