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In the popular romances, as King Arthur lies dying he orders one of his knights to cast his sword Excalibur into an enchanted lake. After twice disobeying the wishes of his king, the knight reluctantly consents. When the sword is thrown, the arm of a mysterious water nymph - the Lady of the Lake - rises from the surface, catches the weapon and takes it down into the watery depths.
Tuscany's Excalibur is the real thing, say scientists
The sword of St Galgano, said to have been plunged into a rock by a medieval Tuscan knight, has been authenticated, bolstering Italy's version of the Excalibur legend.
Galgano Guidotti, a noble from Chiusdano, near Siena, allegedly split the stone with his sword in 1180 after renouncing war to become a hermit. For centuries the sword was assumed to be a fake. but research revealed last week has dated its metal to the twelfth century.
Only the hilt, wooden grip and a few inches of the 3ft blade poke from the hill, which still draws pilgrims and tourists to the ruins of the chapel built around it.
'Dating metal is a very difficult task, but we can say that the composition of the metal and the style are compatible with the era of the legend,' said Luigi Garlaschelli, of the University of Pavia. 'We have succeeded in refuting those who maintain that it is a recent fake.'