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Divers Discover Fully Intact Medieval Sword in Underwater Stone

Ian Harvey
Sword in the underwater stone
Sword in the underwater stone

In Bosnia’s Republika Srpska, the Vrbas River has held a secret for around seven centuries. A medieval sword was recently discovered stuck in a stone thirty-six feet down at the bottom of the river. Divers from the RK BUK, a boating and dive club in Banja Luka, found the sword in relatively good condition considering the amount of time spent underwater.

Republika Srpska Museum historian, Janko Vracar, announced that an analysis of the blade had been done and verified that the sword was from around the end of the 1200s to the first half of the 1400s. According to The Srpska Times, Vracar noted that the City of Banja Luka and Republika Srpska are prioritizing the conservation of the weapon which is a rare find in the region.

Vrbas River Bosnia

The Vrbas River in Bosnia

The stone holding the sword was beginning to crack apart and archeologists removed as much of it surrounding the sword as they could while it was still underwater but still had to bring up a bit of the rock which will also be tested.

Quoted in BalkanInsight, Archaeologist Ivana Pandzic, who is also a curator at the Museum of Republika Srpska remarked, “This is the first sword to be found near the archaeological site near the medieval town of Zvecaj, so it has twice the weight in scientific and historical terms.” How the sword got into the stone and then to the bottom of a river still has scientists baffled.

Sword in the Stone

The sword found. Photo by Ivana Pandzic

The find of an ancient sword like this is extremely rare in the region. The most recent one found in the Balkans was over ninety years ago. The Vrbas river runs near the ruins of a medieval castle in the city of Zvecaj where the ruling Bosnians of the time lived.

The Banjaluka Tourist Board explains that archeologists believe the fortress guarding the city predates the time in 1404 when Grand Duke of Bosnia, Hrvoje Vukčić, schemed to have the Bosnian king, Ostoja, removed from his throne and replaced with Tvrtko II Kotromanić.

Sword in Stone Bosnia

The 700-yr-old sword was found embedded in rock at the bottom of the river. Photo by Ivana Pandzic

This move set in motion a series of events that culminated in Ostoja reclaiming the throne and marrying Hrvoje Vukčić’s widow. The castle changed hands a multitude of times before it was destroyed in 1777, and now only a few mostly toppled walls and part of one tower, along with a private home, remain on the property.

The media has latched on to the story of the Vrbas River find calling the sword “Excalibur”, with some even lightheartedly claiming it may be the real sword made famous in the legends of King Arthur. This would be difficult to prove as King Arthur was an English king and the story was probably a metaphor for the emerging Iron Age according to Daily Mail, and no ladies were observed in any lakes.

Check out the video of the find below:

Swords found in stones is not an unheard of phenomenon as a 12th century sword was discovered in Tuscany’s Montesiepi Chapel; it had belonged to San Galgano, who was made a saint shortly after his death. According to the legend, San Galgano was a violent, arrogant, worldly knight who converted after a vision of the Archangel Michael told him to go to Montesiepi Hill where he had visions of Mary, Jesus, and the twelve apostles.

He was told he must renounce all of his worldly possessions and desires and live in solitude. According to Ancient Origins, San Galgano protested, saying doing so was as easy as splitting stones with a sword. At that point, San Galgano drew his sword and plunged it into a stone where it remains to this day under a thick piece of glass. The article has the full story:

Sword in the Stone in Tuscany Proven Real and Likely Inspiration for Excalibur

A chapel was built around the stone, and recently the use of ground-penetrating radar has discovered a hollow area beneath the sword which could possibly hold the bones of the saint. Although we can assume that the Vrbas River sword is not, in fact, Excalibur, the find has delighted archeologists and enchanted citizens of Bosnia.