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‘King Arthur’ castle discovery: ancient writing carved in stone

James Rogers, June 20, 2018 7:00PM Fox News

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A sculpture, added in 2016, on the rocks at Tintagel Castle. Picture: Getty media_cameraA sculpture, added in 2016, on the rocks at Tintagel Castle. Picture: Getty

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A mysterious piece of writing from the 7th century has been discovered in the ruins of an English castle linked to the legend of King Arthur.

The carving in stone, which combines Latin* writing, Greek letters and Christian symbols, was found on a 60cm stone at Tintagel castle on the coast of Cornwall, UK, Fox News reports.

Experts believe the strange mixture of text and symbols shows someone was practising writing.

The mysterious inscription. Picture: English Heritage media_cameraThe mysterious inscription. Picture: English Heritage

Experts from the Cornwall Archaeological* Unit, supported by English Heritage, which manages the site, made the discovery.

The Latin inscription* shows the continuing influence of Roman culture in Britain long after the Romans left in the 4th and 5th centuries.

“The survival of writing from this period is rare and this is a very important find,” explained Michelle Brown, a writing expert from the University of London.

“The lettering style and language used, as well as Christian symbols exhibiting Mediterranean* influence and contacts, all reveal precious clues to the culture of those who lived at Tintagel in the 7th century.”

The ruins of Tintagel Castle in England. Picture: News Corp media_cameraThe ruins of Tintagel Castle in England. Picture: News Corp

Dr Brown deciphered* the inscription with text expert Oliver Padel at the University of Cambridge.

The writer, she believed, was practising words and phrases.

The slate stone includes both Roman and Celtic* names — “Tito” (Titus) and “Budic”, which hints at a multicultural 7th century community at Tintagel.

The Latin words “fili” (son) and “viri duo” (two men) also feature on the stone, which is one of the castle’s window ledges.

The clifftop ruins of Tintagel have always fascinated historians*. It is half on the Cornish mainland and half on a headland that juts into the sea.

Tintagel is linked to the legend of King Arthur. The 12th-century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote about King Arthur and decided in his version of the story that Tintagel was where King Arthur’s parents lived or visited before he was born.

In 1998, a stone inscribed with several words including the Celtic name “Artognou” was found at the site. Several people wrongly believed the name was a version of “Arthur”, according to English Heritage.

Another piece of stone with writing found at Tintagel in 1998. Picture: AP media_cameraAnother piece of stone with writing found at Tintagel in 1998. Picture: AP

This article originally appeared on Fox News and has been reproduced here with permission.

WHO WAS KING ARTHUR?

  • He might have been a warrior who led an army to defend Britain against invaders and perhaps monsters and dragons in 400 and 500 AD.
  • The stories about King Arthur have been exaggerated over the centuries so that they include a lot of magic. There are very few records of the time when he was supposed to have lived. Some historians think he might not even have existed.
  • Medieval and modern stories about him include a wizard called Merlin, a woman named Guinevere, a sword called Excalibur and a group of other superhero-like characters called the Knights of the Round Table. Sir Lancelot was one of these characters.
Actor Charlie Hunnam in a scene from the film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Picture: Warner Bros Pictures media_cameraActor Charlie Hunnam in a scene from the film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Picture: Warner Bros Pictures

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GLOSSARY

Latin: an old language spoken by ancient Romans

archaeological: relating to the study of ancient history

inscription: engraving

Mediterranean: from the countries around the Mediterranean, such as Italy and Spain

deciphered: translated

Celtic: relating to the Celts, which were the people in history who lived through Ireland, Wales, part of England and Scotland

historians: people who study history

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

QUICK QUIZ

1. List the languages or types of symbols found on the stone.

2. Who is Michelle Brown and why is she quoted?

3. What do the Latin words “viri duo” mean?

4. What does this castle have to do with the legend of King Arthur?

5. Who was King Arthur?

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

Why is it important to find and study objects like the stone found at Tintagel? List as many reasons as you can think of.

Time: Allow 15 minutes

Curriculum Links: History

Extension: What do you think the writing on the stone was about? List the words that we can read from the stone. Use the words in a piece of writing that you think might have been written on the stone. This can be any type of text.

Time: Allow 25 minutes

Curriculum Links: Critical and Creative Thinking, English

VCOP ACTIVITY

After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalists has used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP

QUESTION: Why do we find it fascinating to find ancient things and hear stories from thousands of years ago? Use full sentences to explain your answer.

Extra Reading in history