‘Excalibur’ sword lodged in rock for 1,300 years mysteriously disappears

Wednesday, July 03, 2024 - An ancient French sword has mysteriously disappeared after 1,300 years wedged inside a rock 32ft off the ground.

The Durandal, which is France’s version of King Arthur’s legendary Excalibur, was reported missing from the clifftop village of Rocamadour on Monday, July 1.

It belonged to Roland, a famous knight in French literature who was said to own the "indestructible" sword, which had become an iconic part of the area.

Police are treating it as theft and have launched an investigation but are said to be bemused at how it could have been stolen, given its awkward location next to a sanctuary with limited access.

The small medieval sword, fabled to be capable of cutting through giant boulders with a single strike, was previously lodged into the wall and secured with a metal chain.

It has left the village reeling at the loss of such a historic landmark which was its main tourist attraction, according to the mayor of the commune Dominique Lenfant.

"Rocamadour feels stripped of a part of itself," he told La Depeche.

"Even if it is a legend, the destinies of our village and this sword are linked.

"We will miss Durandal. It has been part of Rocamadour for centuries, there is not a single guide who does not show it during their visit."

Such is the precious nature of the sword, when it was exhibited at the Cluny Museum in Paris, dedicated to artefacts from the Middle Ages, it was escorted by a local councillor and security guard.

Mr Lenfant added: "Durandal is a public property that belongs to the state. This sword was embedded in the rock face at a shallow depth, very close to the chapel of the Black Virgin.

"It measures 80cm, so it is a small medieval sword that was forged to stun people or horses, not to kill them."

The sword’s magical qualities were described in the 11th-century epic poem “The Song of Roland.” The poem, written in old French, is the oldest surviving major work of French literature, with the sole surviving copy stashed at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, according to the Telegraph.

Emperor Charlemagne received Durandal from an angel before he gifted it to his best soldier, according to the legend.

Roland, before his valiant death at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass, tried to break the sword on the rocks to prevent his enemies from taking it — but even he could not destroy the sword.

The myth says that when he threw it in the air to save it, it miraculously travelled hundreds of kilometres before embedding itself in the rock face of Rocamadour.

Police are trying to determine how someone could have scaled 100 feet of the sheer rock face to snatch the sword.

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