Excalibur is the finest sword ever crafted by the blacksmith Tom, father of Guinevere, and burnished in the breath of The Great Dragon at the request of Merlin. It has the power to slay anything, mortal or magical, living or dead. It was originally forged for Arthur Pendragon and Kilgharrah warned that because it possesses great power, it could also do great evil in the wrong hands. Twice, Merlin hid it where no one could wield it; once at the bottom of the Lake of Avalon and once buried in a stone. Arthur did not wield it until Merlin restored his confidence in his ability to be king by pulling Excalibur from the stone.
Creation and Concealment
When Merlin seeks a weapon that can kill Tristan de Bois, Ygraine's brother and a wraith, he goes to Geoffrey of Monmouth to get information on how to kill a dead person. Geoffrey reads from the Chronicles of Beltane, which tells of "the sword begotten in the dragon's breath, and found it passing good." It is odd that he wasn't surprised when Merlin told him he was looking for a weapon that can kill the dead, as making such a weapon would require magic, unless the librarian was much like Uther who didn't believe in myth. After that, Merlin asks Gwen for the best sword that her father has ever made, and she privately gives him a weapon that her father has created. He then takes it to the Dragon to have the sword imbued with power.
Though hesitant at first, the Dragon agrees to forge the blade. However he makes Merlin promise that only Arthur Pendragon will wield the sword, as it was made for him and him alone. However, on the day of the duel it is Uther Pendragon, not Arthur, who wields the sword against Tristan de Bois. The King defeats the wraith, calling the weapon the finest he has ever used. The Dragon is furious when he learns that Uther handled the sword, and orders Merlin to take it far away to a place where no mortal man may ever find it. Merlin then throws the sword into the Lake of Avalon (Excalibur).
After accidentally destroying the Avalon vial given to him by The Fisher King, Merlin is able to contact Freya, whose image can be seen in the water. She informs him that only Excalibur could destroy Morgause's immortal army. Merlin then travelled to the Lake of Avalon where Freya gave him the sword.
He used the sword to kill several soldiers and to finally slash the Cup of Life from its stand, causing the blood in it to spill and the immortal army to be destroyed. As the Dragon told Merlin that the sword must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands and asked him to place it where no one would wield it, Merlin used his magic to thrust the Excalibur into a large stone. Only Arthur is able to pull the sword out, him being destined to be greatest king of Albion (The Coming of Arthur).
To Its Rightful Owner
Disheartened by Morgana's second conquest of Camelot and Tristan's repeated taunts, Arthur lost came to the conclusion that he didn't deserve to be king. To restore his confidence, Merlin got all Camelot's survivors together and led Arthur to the sword in the stone. Along the way, he told Arthur the story of his ancestor, the first King of Camelot, and then added his own tale: when the king died, he thrust his sword into the stone so that if his lineage was ever questioned, only his heir could remove it. After being prompted, Arthur tried to remove the sword but failed at first. Then Merlin told him he had to believe that he was destined to be the greatest King ever. On his final try, now sure that Arthur did believe in himself, Merlin unfused the sword and it came out in Arthur's hand as witnessed by the survivors from Camelot. He then used it during the Second Battle of Camelot (The Sword in the Stone).
Excalibur was only seen for a brief moment, Arthur uses it to make Mordred a knight of Camelot (Arthur's Bane: Part Two).
Confronting the Dochraid
To protect himself when meeting the Dochraid, Merlin (disguised as Dragoon The Great) wielded Excalibur due to its magical properties. Merlin used the sword to slash the Dochraid when she became aggressive and hostile towards him, and convinced her at sword point to divulge how to rid Morgana's control over Queen Guinevere (With All My Heart)
Battle at Camlann
Arthur later on used the Sword at the Battle of Camlann and it was probably given to him by Merlin. Arthur used the sword and took down many invading Saxons, however when he faced Mordred he was fatally wounded; although he used the sword to kill Mordred in turn. Merlin later used the sword to kill Morgana as she was a High Priestess, only an immortal weapon could kill her. Merlin finally cast Excalibur back onto the Lake of Avalon after Arthur has died, where it was caught by Arthur. This sounds far fetched. Many people believe Freya is the one who catches the sword. Where in fact it is Arthur. The arm is muscular whereas Freya's is dainty, slim.
Excalibur has the power to kill anything, mortal or magical, living or undead, and it gives those who wield it amazing fighting skills. However it does not guarantee victory against superior swordsmen as was evident in the outcome of the battle between Arthur Pendragon and Helios during Arthur's second liberation of Camelot. For it's fatal power to work it must wound the enemy.
In The Legend
In some of the earliest versions of the legend (such as Geoffrey of Monmouth's), the sword is called Caliburn. The name later morphs into Excalibur. Initially, Excalibur was the same sword that Arthur pulled from the Stone to assert his rightful place as heir to Uther Pendragon and King of Britain. In later legend, the Sword in the Stone and Excalibur became differentiated. The Sword in the Stone became identified with Arthur's peace-sword Clarent, while Excalibur, his war-sword, was given to him during his reign as king by the Lady of the Lake. In these legends, Arthur instructs a knight, either Griflet or Bedivere, to deliver the sword back to the Lake upon his death. The Dragon ordering Merlin to dispose of the sword, and Merlin choosing to throw the weapon into a Lake, mirrors the legends.
In the legends, Merlin places Excalibur in an anvil on a stone, and says that whoever pulled out the sword would be the rightful King of Britain. People from all over the land try to do it, but none can. At a tournament, serving as his adoptive brother Kay's squire, Arthur pulls Excalibur from the anvil and gives it to Kay as a replacement for the sword that was stolen. Kay tries to take credit for the sword, but none believe him, and with Merlin's help Arthur becomes king.
In another telling, the sword in the stone and Excalibur are different blades. Excalibur is given to Arthur from the Lady of the Lake after he loses his first one. Excalibur is crafted only for Arthur in Avalon, and with it he is invincible, and he also gets a scabbard that keeps him from being wounded as long as he wore it, which Morgan Le Fay steals from Arthur, resulting in him being fatally wounded in the Battle of Camlann.
- Series 1
- Series 3
- The Coming of Arthur: Part Two
- Series 4
- The Darkest Hour: Part One (Appears in visions)
- The Sword in the Stone: Part Two
- Series 5
- Arthur's Bane: Part Two
- With All My Heart
- The Diamond of the Day: Part Two
- Excalibur is only referred to by name once throughout the series: in the episode of its introduction, by Gwen when she showed it to Merlin.
- Excalibur has been used by three different people: the first was Uther in Excalibur, the second was Merlin in The Coming of Arthur and the third one; its rightful owner, Arthur in The Sword in the Stone and The Diamond of the Day.
- Merlin, Gaius, Kilgharrah, Gwen and Uther are the only other characters who know of the sword's existence before it is pulled from the stone by Arthur.
- Excalibur is often described as a flaming sword when used in combat. Morgana set a sword meant to be used by Arthur on fire in an episode of Series 4, making a reference to that part of the legend (His Father's Son).
- Excalibur also appeared in Morgana's dream of Emrys (The Darkest Hour: Part One).
- Morgana uses Aithusa to forge a second "Excalibur" (The Diamond of the Day: Part One) This could be a reference to her making a "false Excalibur" to bring about Arthur's downfall in the legends.