France’s own Excalibur-like legendary sword disappears after 1,300 years wedged in a high rock wall

French police are investigating the disappearance of Durandal, a sword linked to mythology akin to the fabled British King Arthur’s Excalibur, after it mysteriously vanished from the Pyrenean village of Rocamadour, where it had been wedged into a rock high off the ground for about 1,300 years.

The semi-legendary knight Roland wielded Durandal, which was said to be indestructible and the sharpest of all blades. Their adventures together are chronicled in the 11th century epic poem “The Song of Roland,” which now resides in the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library in England. 

Engraving from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine Volume LXIV December, 1881 to May, 1882 depicts the semi-legendary French knight Count Roland swinging his sword, Durandal, in battle against the Saracens at Roncesvalles. Roland died in the year 778.

Ken Wiedemann/iStock/Getty

The poem, the first known reference to the sword, says an angel gave Durandal to the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, who entrusted it to Roland. 

The Italian epic “Orlando Enraged” says Durandal also belonged at one point to the Trojan prince Hector.

According to the French legend, Durandal ended up in Rocamadour when Roland, failing to destroy his trusted blade, threw it as far as he could to prevent his enemies from getting their hands on it. It is said to have landed in the southern French village and lodged itself in a rock wall about 33 feet off the ground. 

That is where it had been ever since, and it was a popular tourist attraction for the town. But 1,300 years later, it’s gone missing, presumed stolen. The town, known also for its goat’s cheese, is bereft.

The Sanctuary of Notre-Dame of Rocamadour is seen overlooking the Pyrenean French town of Rocamadour, in an April 19, 2019 file photo. For more than a millennium, the legendary sword named Durandal, said to have been wielded by the 8th century knight Roland, was lodged into one of the chapel’s stone walls, until it disappeared, presumed to have been stolen, in July 2024.


“We’re going to miss Durandal. It’s been part of Rocamadour for centuries, and there’s not a guide who doesn’t point it out when he visits,” Dominique Lenfant, the town’s mayor, was quoted as saying by La Dépêche, the French newspaper that broke the story. 

“Rocamadour feels it’s been robbed of a part of itself,” Lenfant said. “Even if it’s a legend, the destinies of our village and this sword are entwined.”

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