Our guide to visiting Tintagel Castle

Clinging to the craggy cliffs of the North Cornish coast, Tintagel Castle, makes for a dramatic and romantic castle ruin which is steeped in ancient myths and legends of King Arthur, Merlin and the famous Knights of the Round Table.

Visually dramatic, the windswept ruin of Tintagel Castle lies in a stunning location stretching across the North Cornwall coastline between a stark cliff and a rocky outcrop battered by the ocean – this remote island is accessible only by bridge. It makes an excellent stop on any driving tour of Cornwall.

The castle is most famous for its connection to the legend of King Arthur. Indeed, it is reputedly the Birthplace of the “once and future King” and was named by the 12th century cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth as the location of the iconic King’s conception in his History of the Kings of Britain. Today historians believe the legend of King Arthur was based on a real figure, a brave warrior who led the Celtic populations of South West of England and Wales in revolts against the invasions of the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th century.

The Tintagel headland has been inhabited since the Dark Ages but it was not until the 13th century that a castle was built there replacing an ancient Celtic monastery.  In 1233 the site was bought by the Earl of Cornwall, Richard, brother of King Henry III who was keen to exploit the international fame brought to the site by its association with the legend of King Arthur. However, following Richard’s death in 1272, the site was largely abandoned and left to decay.

Your adventure at Tintagel begins as you climb the 148 steps to the headland and pass through the wooden door into Richard, Earl of Cornwall’s Great Hall. Beyond this area are the remains of Dark Age houses built on the remote headland between the 5th and 7th centuries.

Tintagel is a wonderful place to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the rugged Cornish coastline. Take a walk along the West Coast Path which runs past the island or climb down to the beautiful Tintagel beach which was made famous by Tennyson’s epic poem: Idylls of the King which describes the waves bringing the infant King Arthur to shore. Here you can also explore the mysterious Merlin’s Cave which is only accessible when the tide is out. It is 100 metres deep and passes completely through Tintagel Island!

A visually dramatic and historically intriguing site, shrouded in myth, adeo Travel would recommend a visit to Tintagel for anyone with an interest in Arthurian Legend – admission is free with the English Heritage Overseas Visitor Pass which can be added to your driving tour of England package.

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