Our fascination with myths and legends never ceases, and at medieval Tintagel Castle in Cornwall the evocation of the mystical tales of King Arthur and sense of mystery created will leave more lasting memories than many of the digital games and TV programmes based on similar themes can ever hope to achieve. Let your imagination roam free and you’ll hear the clash of swords in battle and see the characters of Arthurian legend, the round table and magical Excalibur brought to bear.
The adventure starts with your first glimpse of the dramatic castle ruins, set high on North Cornwall’s coast on a rugged outcrop, with breathtaking sea views. There is a programme of castle events with Fighting Knights, Medieval Jousts and telling of The Tales of King Arthur, which bring the tales of enduring legend to life. Visitors can explore the castle ruins where, it is fabled, King Uther Pendragon met the beautiful Igraine and together had a son: Arthur. The castle is also found in the ancient tale of Tristan and Isolde.
To reach the castle you must walk from the mainland over a narrow strip of land, a short journey filled with anticipation of what lies ahead and one that offers rewarding sights that on the clearest days extend to Lundy Island. Be warned, you need a certain degree of fitness and sufficient mobility to mount 100 steps and tackle uneven surfaces. A coastal walk, exploration of the castle ruins and of wizard Merlin’s Cave, and a mysterious tunnel, will work up an appetite for traditional Cornish treats such as locally sourced crab sandwiches, fish and chips, homemade cakes or cream teas, served at the beach cafe; alternatively bring a family picnic.
Tintagel Castle ultimately poses more questions than answers which scholars have long debated. High status imported Mediterranean pottery dating from the 5th and 6th centuries, as well as glass reputedly of 6th or 7th century origin and from Malaga in Spain, are among many fascinating finds. Among its many mysteries is the identification of the person mentioned in this Latin inscription on a 1,500 year old piece of slate: “Artognou, father of a descendant of Coll, has had (this) made.”
There’s a poetry and romance too enshrined in the names of knights, maidens and characters of legend. It’s fun to choose or create your own; here are a few for inspiration: Launcelot, Guinevere, Mordrede, Galvarium, Gotegrim, Valerin, Percyvale, Lybus Dyscophorus, Dagonet, Gaweyn…
Visit www.tintagelcastle.co.uk/ for opening times and admission. From CLC Trenython Manor, Tintagel Castle can be reached in under an hour’s drive.