THE history experts behind the first ever archaeological dig at a 5,000-year-old Herefordshire tomb linked to King Arthur have spoken out.

They have explained why the tomb in the Golden Valley will be dug, with the possibility that people will be found.

English Heritage, which looks after Arthur's Stone above Dorstone, will be working with archaeologists from the University of Manchester, and a professor has said the dig will take place because the monument is so poorly understood.

Together, they hope the dig, which starts this week, will answer some of the mysteries surrounding the enigmatic site in the process.

Turf will be removed which should expose particularly sensitive archaeological remains.

Being a Neolithic chambered tomb which has never previously been excavated, English Heritage says incomplete skeletal remains of several people, together with flint flakes, arrowheads and pottery have been found at similar sites in the area.

Professor Julian Thomas, of the University of Manchester, said: "Arthur’s Stone is one of this country’s outstanding prehistoric monuments, set in a breathtaking location – yet it remains poorly understood.

"Our work seeks to restore it to its rightful place in the story of Neolithic Britain."

Ginny Slade, volunteer manager at English Heritage, said: “Arthur’s Stone is one of the country’s most significant Stone Age monuments, and this excavation gives a really rare and exciting chance for members of the public to come and see archaeology in action.

“Our team of wonderful volunteers will be on hand to explain the latest findings as they happen – we’re asking people to book in advance to make sure everyone has a chance to enjoy this great opportunity.”

Today, only the large stones of the inner chamber remains, which is placed in a mound of earth and stones whose original size and shape remains a mystery.

The chamber is formed of nine upright stones, with an enormous capstone estimated to weigh more than 25 tonnes on top.

Like many prehistoric monuments in western England and Wales, this tomb has been linked to King Arthur since before the 13th century.

According to legend, it was here that Arthur slew a giant who left the impression of his elbows on one of the stones as he fell.

More recently, the author CS Lewis is thought to have been inspired by the area when creating his fictional world of Narnia - with Arthur’s Stone the inspiration for the stone table upon which Aslan the Lion is sacrificed in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

The dig follows research undertaken by the Universities of Manchester and Cardiff immediately to the south of the monument last year which has already changed the thinking about the orientation and origins of the site.

English Heritage has also recruited a team of volunteers to work alongside the archaeologists to bring the history and stories of the stones to life with tours of the excavation site. Pre-booked tours are available to book online.