Tintagel Castle English Heritage castles and monuments in Cornwall
Tintagel, Cornwall PL34 0DB Tel: 01840 - 770328

Tintagel Castle, CornwallIf you want to give your imagination a treat, take it to Tintagel Castle. Tristan and Isolt, King Mark, Uther Pendragon, Merlin the Magician and King Arthur were all here according to legend - and at Tintagel legends have greater potency than facts, for there are few historical certainties here - most remains a mystery.

When the conquering Normans reached the westernmost land of England they heard that the ancient seat of Cornwall's kings had stood atop this soaring headland, surrounded on three sides by the ceaseless surge of the Atlantic. So in propaganda terms it made sense for Earl Richard of Cornwall, younger brother of Henry III, to build a castle on the spot where his legendary predecessors had held court. There was no strategic reason for the choice, as there had been for the other Norman castles in Cornwall, Launceston and Restormel - and Earl Richard rarely stayed there.

Though Norman realpolitik put Tintagel on its windy headland, it is as a castle of the imagination that it holds us spellbound - a place of 'magic casements, opening on the foam of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.' Was it here that Tristan wooed Isolt? Where Merlin magicked Uther Pendragon into the bed of Igerna, wife of King Gorlois, to father Arthur? And when Arthur became king, did he place his foot in "Arthur's Footprint" as part of ancient inauguration rites? Look around you, as the sea-light dances and the salt-spray flies, and you can believe whatever you want to believe.

Legendary birthplace of King Arthur Family Discovery Pack available.

Parking in Tintagel village. Please note that there is a steep climb up steps to reach the castle.

Location - On Tintagel Head, ½mile along uneven track from Tintagel, no vehicles, (OS Map 200; ref SX 048891).

 

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