Excalibur is the finest sword ever crafted by the blacksmith Tom, father of Guinevere Pendragon, and burnished in the breath of the Great Dragon at the request of Merlin. It has the power to slay the dead. It was originally forged for Arthur Pendragon, and disastrous consequences can result if it is wielded by anyone other than him or Merlin.
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 alike Uther who didn't believe in myth. After that, Merlin asks Gwenfor the best sword that her father has, and she gives him a weapon that her father has created in private. He then takes it to the Dragon to have the sword forged and 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. 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, because Uther would use the sword for evil deeds. Merlin then throws the sword into the Lake of Avalon (Excalibur).
After accidently 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 fuse Excalibur into a large stone (The Coming of Arthur).
To It's Rightful Owner
Following Morgana's second conquest of Camelot, and Tristan's negative views on nobles, Arthur had lost the will to continue and had come to the conclusion he didn't deserve to be king. Following advice from the Great Dragon, Merlin got all the survivors together, and led Arthur to the stone which he had put the sword into. Along the way, he told Arthur the story of his ancestor, the first King of Camelot, and then added his own bit: when the king had died, he thrust his sword into the stone so that if his lineage was ever questioned, only his heir could remove it. After some prompting, Arthur tried to remove it but failed at first. Then Merlin told him 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 to Arthur. This was witnessed by the survivors from Camelot who has surrounded the clearing. He then used it during the Battle of Camelot, and killed dozens of enemies (The Sword in the Stone).
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 One
- Arthur's Bane: Part Two
- Excalibur is never referred to by name though its identity is made clear by the inscriptions it bore: "take me up" on one side of the blade and "cast me away" on the other.
- 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.
- 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.
- Since Arthur pulled the sword from the stone during The Sword in the Stone, it may make more appearances in Series 5.
- 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).
- In recent set photos for Series 5, the sword's hilt is seen on the belt that Arthur's portrayer, Bradley James is wearing to it is implied by these photos that Excalibur will play a major role as Arthur's main sword.