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About Cornwall

You are in: Cornwall > About Cornwall > About Cornwall > History and Mystery

Tintagel Castle

History and Mystery

The magic of north Cornwall can be found in the village of Tintagel. For hundreds of years the area has been famous for its King Arthur legend, including the historic castle on the cliffs.

For more than 800 years a magical tale has been told that Tintagel was the birthplace of the noble King Arthur.

He was protected from evil by Merlin the magician who lived below the castle in a cave.

As many mysteries remain about Tintagel as facts are known. Today the two are inextricably entwined and the village remains one of the most awe inspiring and romantic spots in the UK.

A view from Tintagel Castle

The castle is found in the spectacular setting of the dramatic north Cornwall coast. Atlantic breakers crash against the cliffs, and through Merlin's cave, as visitors climb the steep but breathtaking path to Tintagel Island.

The ruins of the 13th Century stronghold of the Earls of Cornwall continue to be explored by people from all over the world.

On the mainland itself, the gaunt remains of the medieval castle represent only one phase in a long history of occupation.

Even before Richard, Earl of Cornwall, built his castle, Tintagel had come to be associated with the conception of King Arthur.

The connection was later renewed by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in his Idylls of the King.

During the summer months, a story-teller is often on hand to bring the legends of King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot to life. In the bleak mid-winter, Tintagel is a place that inspires the imagination of writers and poets. It's a place of dreams, romance and legend.

In June 1998, excavations were undertaken under the direction of Professor Chris Morris of the University of Glasgow, on a relatively sheltered and small site on the eastern side of the island, first excavated in the 1930s.

Pottery from the 5th and 6th centuries was found, as well as some fine glass fragments believed to be from 6th- or 7th-century Málaga.

Even more remarkable was a 1,500-year-old piece of slate on which remain two Latin inscriptions. The second inscription reads: ‘Artognou, father of a descendant of Coll, has had [this] made.’ Who exactly Artognou was continues to be a subject for lively speculation.

Castle Opening Times
1 Apr-30 Sep 10am-6pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

31 Oct 10am-5pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1 Nov-31 Mar 10am-4pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

24-26 Dec and 1 Jan Closed

More from English Heritage

Chysauster Ancient Village
This Celtic settlement was originally occupied almost 2,000 years ago. The ‘village’ consisted of eight stone-walled homesteads known as ‘courtyard houses’, which are only found on the Land’s End peninsula and the Isles of Scilly.

1 Apr-30 Jun 10am-5pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1 Jul-31 Aug 10am-6pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1-30 Sep 10am-5pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1-31 Oct 10am-4pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

Pedennis Castle 

Pendennis Castle, Falmouth
1 Apr-30 Jun 10am-5pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1-30 Sep 10am-5pm Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1 Oct-31 Mar* 10am-4pm Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

24-26 Dec and 1 Jan Closed

1 Jul-31 Aug 10am-6pm* Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

*Closes at 5pm on Saturdays
*1 Apr - 31 Oct Sat access may be by guided tours only, closing at 4pm, call to confirm - 01326 316594.

Restormel Castle

Lostwithiel
Surrounded by a deep moat and perched on a high mound, the huge circular keep of this castle, built at the turn of the 14th century, survives in good condition

1 Apr-30 Jun 10am-5pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1 Jul-31 Aug 10am-6pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1-30 Sep 10am-5pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1-31 Oct 10am-4pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

St Catherine's Castle
Fowey:

A small fort built by Henry VIII in the 16th century to defend Fowey Harbour, with two storeys with gun ports at ground level.

Open All Year Any Reasonable Time Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

St Mawes Castle

St Mawes:
This, the most perfectly preserved of Henry VIII’s coastal fortresses, was built to counter the invasion threat from Europe in partnership with its twin, Pendennis, on the other side of the Fal Estuary.

1 Apr-30 Jun 10am-5pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1 Jul-31 Aug 10am-6pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1-30 Sep 10am-5pm*
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1-31Oct 10am-4pm
Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun

1 Nov-31 Mar 10am-4pm
Mon Fri Sat Sun

24-26 Dec and 1 Jan Closed

*May close at 4pm on Saturdays from 1 Apr-31 Oct. Call to confirm 01326 270526

last updated: 30/01/2008 at 13:08
created: 30/01/2008

You are in: Cornwall > About Cornwall > About Cornwall > History and Mystery



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