This Week In History News, Sept. 5 – 11

Published September 10, 2021

Mysterious stone balls unearthed at Neolithic Scottish tomb, 800-year-old Merlin texts translated, Napoleon's hat containing traces of his DNA goes up for auction.

Mysterious Balls Made Of Polished Stone Found Inside 5,500-Year-Old Scottish Tomb

Neolithic Scottish Stone Ball

Mike LawlorMeasuring in at about three inches in diameter, the balls seem custom built to fit into the palm of an adult’s hand — though experts still have no idea what their exact purpose was.

The seaside cairn known as Tresness has sat on the Scottish isle of Orkney since 3500 B.C. But now, climate change and erosion are causing this slowly vanishing archaeological marvel to slip into the sea. For years, researchers have been trying to squeeze everything they can out of this historic dig site before it’s too late.

Just recently, archaeologists at Tresness have just made an astonishing find: a set of stone balls that were carefully carved and polished some 5,500 years ago — for reasons that remain bafflingly unclear.

Discover the full story behind this amazing discovery here.

800-Year-Old Manuscript Found In British Library Sheds New Light On Stories Of Merlin And King Arthur

King Arthur Texts

Leah TetherScholars determined that the text dates to around 1250 and 1275 and was likely written in Northern France.

Two years ago, a librarian at the University of Bristol came across fragments of parchment stuffed inside a 16th-century book. Though the parchments were handwritten in Old French, one word immediately jumped out: Merlin.

Now, scholars have translated the 800-year-old texts, nicknamed “Bristol Merlin.” They feature variations on the modern retelling of the King Arthur legend, including details about King Arthur’s war against King Claudas and Merlin’s romance with “the Lady of the Lake.”

Dig deeper in this report.

One Of Napoleon’s Famous Hats Is Going Up For Auction — And It Contains Traces Of His DNA

Napoleon's Hat

Zheng Huansong/Xinhua via Getty ImagesThe recently discovered Napoleon hat, similar to this one, contains a few strands of his hair.

An anonymous buyer got more than he bargained for when he picked up a 19th-century bicorne hat at a small German auction house. Not only is it one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s hats — but it also contains the French emperor’s DNA.

See more here.

All That's Interesting
Established in 2010, All That's Interesting brings together a dedicated staff of digital publishing veterans and subject-level experts in history, true crime, and science. From the lesser-known byways of human history to the uncharted corners of the world, we seek out stories that bring our past, present, and future to life. Privately-owned since its founding, All That's Interesting maintains a commitment to unbiased reporting while taking great care in fact-checking and research to ensure that we meet the highest standards of accuracy.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.