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Chiusdino, Italy

The Sword in the Stone at Montesiepi Chapel

The real sword in the stone is found not in England, but in an Italian chapel 

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The legendary sword in the stone, often linked to king Arthur’s legend, does exist. Not in Avalon, of course, but in Italy. One can see it in the Montesiepi chapel, near Saint Galgano Abbey in Chiusdino, in Tuscany.

Galgano Guidotti was born in 1148 near Chiusdino. After spending his youth as a brave knight, in 1180 Galgano decided to follow the words of Jesus and retired as a hermit near his hometown.

He is said to have stuck his sword onto a rock in order to use it as a cross for his prayers. One year later Galgano died, and in 1185 Pope Lucius the 3rd declared him a saint.

According to legend after Galgano’s death, countless people have tried to steal the sword. In the chapel you can see what are said to be the mummified hands of a thief that tried to remove the sword and was then suddenly slaughtered by wild wolves.

While the sword was considered a fake for years, recent studies examined the sword and the hands, and the dating results as well as metal and style of the sword all are consistent with the late 1100s - early 1200s. This may mean that the story on which the English sword and the stone is based on originated with Guidotti in Italy.

These days the sword is protected by a Perspex screen to protect it from the attempts to remove it from the stone, one of which resulted in the sword being broken. So if the true-born king of England does indeed comes along he had better also be able to break through plastic, as well as remove the sword from the stone.

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