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‘King Arthur’ castle discovery: the Mysterious inscription intrigues experts

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Found: 1,300-year-old to write on a rare stone

A 2-foot slate inscribed with ancient letters and Christian symbols is a of Tintagel Castle in Britain. Find out what the experts say that this discovery could reveal.

A mysterious inscription from the 7th century A. D. discovered in the ruins of an English castle associated with the legend of King Arthur.

The inscription, which combines Latin letters, Greek letters and Christian symbols, was found on a 2 metre high stone at Tintagel castle on the coast of Cornwall. Experts believe that the strange combination of text and symbols can indicate that someone is involved with the writing of a text.

Experts from the Cornwall Archaeological Unit (CAU), supported by English Heritage, which manages the site, made the discovery last summer.

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The Latin inscription underlines the continued influence of the Roman culture in Britain long after the departure of the Roman troops and civil servants in the 4th and 5th centuries A. D. “The survival of the writing of this period is rare and this is a very important finding, especially in terms of the continuity of a well-trained Christian tradition in the post-Roman Cornwall,” said Michelle Brown, a writing expert from the University of London, in a statement. The lettering of the style and the language, as well as Christian symbols exhibiting a Mediterranean influence and contacts, all reveal valuable clues to the culture of the people who lived at Tintagel in the 7th century.”

Excavations at the Tintagel site (English Heritage)

Brown deciphered the inscription with textual expert Oliver Padel, an honorary research fellow in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University of Cambridge.

“[The text] suggests a high level of literacy and an awareness of the contemporary writing styles associated with the early manuscripts of great Britain and Ireland,” Brown added. The writer, she believes that was likely the practice of a series of words and phrases.

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The inscribed slate contains both the Roman and Celtic names – ‘Tito (Titus) and ‘Budic,’ which suggests a multi-cultural 7th-century community in Tintagel. The Latin words ‘fili’ (son) and ‘viri duo (two men) are also on the stone that served as a window sill.

The inscription (English Heritage)

The magnificent cliff top ruins of Tintagel has long fascinated historians. The castle, of which the half on the Cornish mainland and half on a rugged cape that juts out into the sea, is described by English Heritage as one of the most spectacular historic sites in Britain.

Tintagel is also associated with the legendary figure of King Arthur. The site inspired the 12th-century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth to the name in his “History of the Kings of Britain” as the place where King Arthur was conceived, according to the English Heritage.

However, this is not the first stone, engraved with the early-medieval writing that has been discovered at Tintagel. In 1998, a stone engraved with different words including the Celtic name ‘Artognou, is located at the site. Some people mistakenly interpreted as the name of a version of ‘Arthur’, says English Heritage.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

 

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