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Tintagel – Historic village and home of King Arthur’s iconic castle

Special Interest Group Tours and Travel in Cornwall

Spread out along a clifftops, set back from the sea and more than 300 ft (90m) above it, Tintagel has been one of Cornwall’s most powerful magnets since the 19th century, when Tennyson’s The Idylls of the Kings publicised the village’s legendary links with King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. His poems were inspired by other works, the earliest of which was written by Geoffrey on Monmouth in the 12th century. There are no facts to support the romantic stories about Tintagel being the Celtic hero’s birthplace and seat of power, but dramatic coastal scenery and the ruins on Tintagel Head combine to create an atmosphere which accords well with the Arthurian myths.

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History and attractions of Tintagel

A broad footpath runs from the village to what remains of Tintagel Castle, the earliest parts of which were built in about 1145 by Henry III’s brother Reginald, Earl of Cornwall. In the 14th century the stronghold was given to Edward the Black Prince, the first Duke of Cornwall. The mainland part of the castle was then joined to The Island by a natural bridge which the relentless waves eventually destroyed.

Until the new 70m footbridge was unveiled in August 2019 visitors had to take 300 steps to reach the top of The Island, where the remains of a Celtic monastery have survived since the Dark Ages. There are breath taking views of a coast against whose wild beauty stands, incongruously, a huge Victorian hotel between Tintagel and the sea.

There is a beach of sand and pebbles below south of The Island. This is reached through Merlin’s Cave – the spot where Arthur is said to have met Merlin, the wizard who promised to make the boy a wise and gallant ruler.

Tintagel’s main street is made memorable by the Old Post Office, an enchanting manor in miniature dating from the 14th century. It was first used as a post office during Queen Victoria reign, and is now owned by the National Trust. King Arthur’s Hall, on the opposite side of the street, illustrates the legends that have made Tintagel famous. A feature of the building is 73 stained glass windows portraying the story of Arthur and his knights.

The Path over Glebe Cliff passes Dunderhole Point, where slate was lowered into the holds of sailing ships during the 19th century.

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