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

The Durandal sword was stuck in this rock in France for 1,300 years – but it’s disappeared (Picture: Shutterstock/Grantibo)

An ancient French sword has mysteriously vanished 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.

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 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.

Legend says the sword once belonged to Roland the knight (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

‘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.’

Legend says that emperor Charlemagne removed the sword from an angel before handing it over to Roland the knight.

He tried to break Durandal on a rock before he was killed in the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in an attempt to stop a rival army of Saracens from taking it.

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.

Rocamadour lies around 100 miles north of the southern French city of Toulouse and was voted France’s favourite village in 2016.

Last year, five men were convicted of a £100,000,000 heist of jewels including a diamond-encrusted sword in what is thought to be one of the biggest art thefts in modern history.

In another bizarre theft, a set of rare 19th century Russian books worth more than £434,000 were stolen from a library and replaced with dummy versions.

And back in the UK, a British Museum worker was sacked after gold, jewellery and gems dating from 1,500 BC to the 19th century were taken from the exhibition in London.

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