The pen might be mightier than the sword but swords understandably played a huge part in the carving out of historical dynasties. Their prevalent position in myth reflect this dominance and significance in history. Almost every school child curious about fantasy could name you a handful of fantastical weapons from their favourite fictional worlds; Sting, the Sword of Gryffindor, Oathkeeper, the Vorpal Sword…
Arguably the most renowned legendary weapon has to be Excalibur.
King Arthur’s fabled sword was said to cut through steel as it did wood and was gifted to him by the Lady of the Lake near Bodmin Moor when it was most needed. Although the legends differ on exactly when and how he gained the sword, most tales end with Arthur fighting his nephew Mordred at the Battle of Camlann, being mortally wounded, and having his trusted knight, Sir Bedevere, throw the magical sword back into the lake.
One of the most common misconceptions about the Arthurian myth is that Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone are the same weapon.
The Sword in the Stone was actually an entirely separate sword, named Clarent. This was used as the symbol of Arthur’s sovereignty and acted more as a ceremonial sword, a sword of peace, rather than one he used as a warrior. Imbued with magic by Merlin and engraved with “Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone is the rightwise born king of all England”, Clarent was indeed pulled by Arthur to symbolically prove himself as the True King. This Sword of Peace would later go on to be stolen by Mordred and used to (mostly) kill Arthur at Camlann.
Much like many other famous misquotes, mixing up Excalibur and Clarent hardly fundamentally changes the message of the Arthurian story. Through various retellings, before it finally took on the popular form of Excalibur, the famous weapon was known as Calabrun, Calabrum, Calibourne, Callibourc, Calliborc, Calibourch, Escaliborc, and Escalibor. It is easy to see how two magical swords could be subsequently mixed up.
I blame Disney.