Arthur was a legendary British leader who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the late 5th and early 6th centuries AD. . He appears as the ideal of kingship both in war and peace; even in modern times he has been ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Britons of all times. Over time, the popularity of the stories of King Arthur has captured interest far beyond his being the legendary hero of one nation. Countless new legends, stories, revisions, books, and films have been produced in Europe and the United States of America that unabashedly enlarge on and expand the fictional stories of King Arthur.
The Arthur stone was discovered in 1998 in securely dated sixth century contexts among the ruins at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, a secular, high status settlement of Sub-Roman Britain. Apparently originally a practice dedication stone for some building or other public structure, it was broken in two and re-used as part of a drain when the original structure was destroyed.
The dating of the stone is arrived at by two methods: firstly, the stone came from a securely stratified context in association with imported pottery of known types dating to the fifth/sixth centuries; secondly, forms of certain letters noted on the slate appear in British inscribed stones from Scotland to Cornwall post-500 and are certainly known elsewhere from 6th century north Cornwall (part of the kingdom on Dumnonia).
A smaller, more lightly incised inscription runs across the surface below. Its Latin inscription reads: PATER COLI AVI FICIT ARTOGNOV. Dr. Charles Thomas recognised Celtic elements in the Latin, for which he considers a likely translation would be Artognou, father of a descendant of Coll, has had (this) constructed. The name "Artognou" could mean "descendant of Arthur," but the arth- element, signifying "bear," appears in many name contexts aside from Arthur. The Tintagel connection made an association with King Arthur irresistible in the popular press.