Tintagel Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Tintagel Castle

Tintagel, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom

Amy Irvine

23 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle is a cliff-top medieval fortification located on the peninsula of Tintagel Island adjacent to the village of Tintagel (Trevena), in North Cornwall. Inextricably linked with the legend of King Arthur, this dramatic castle and coastline has inspired writers and artists for centuries.

History of Tintagel Castle

It’s thought the site may have been occupied in the Romano-British period, as an array of artefacts dating from this period have been found on the peninsula, but it was during the early medieval period when Tintagel Castle was first settled. A castle was later built on the site by Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall in the 13th century, which later fell into disrepair and ruin.

Archaeological investigation into the site began in the 19th century as it became a tourist attraction, with visitors coming to see the ruins of Richard’s castle. In the 1930s, excavations revealed significant traces of a much earlier high status settlement, which had trading links with the Mediterranean during the Late Roman period.

Two archaeological digs in 2016 and 2017 uncovered the outlines of a palace from the 5th or early 6th century, with evidence of writing and of articles brought in from Spain and from the eastern Mediterranean.

Most notably, the castle has a long association with legends related to King Arthur – first recorded around 1135–38 when Geoffrey of Monmouth described Tintagel as the place of Arthur’s conception in his mythological account of British history, Historia Regum Britanniae (‘History of the Kings of Britain’).

Tintagel Castle today

Today Tintagel Castle is owned by Prince Charles as part of the landholdings of the Duchy of Cornwall, and the site is managed by English Heritage.

Access to the Castle is by crossing the footbridge over to the island. (You will need a timed-ticket to enter the castle, cross the bridge and explore the island). Once there, visitors can explore the castle remains including the ruins of the Great Hall at the heart of the castle.

Getting to Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle is situated on Cornwall’s north coast, between Padstow and Bude. Access is via Tintagel Head, 600 metres along uneven track from Tintagel; there is no parking available on site, but the nearest car-park is in Tintagel Village, again only 600 metres away.

The nearest town is Padstow, which is approximately a 45 minute drive via the A389 and A39. Public transport is relatively sparse in Cornwall so it’s best to order a taxi if travelling in from a nearby town or village if needed.

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