near Tintagel, Cornwall, England
The castle is located near the village of Tintagel high on the headland of an isthmus overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Much of Tintagel Castle has now fallen away into the sea below. There are however still the remains of some steep stone steps, and some of the walls from the Great Hall surrounded by parts of a curtain wall which balance precariously on the cliff edge.
The castle site is open to the public daily from 10am all year round and is served by the Mar’ Beach café serving traditional hot and cold snacks and meals, the site also has its own shop.
Access to the castle is via an uneven track of approximately 600 meters. Visitors with limited mobility can take advantage of a Land Rover service from the village for an extra charge.
Visitors are encouraged to explore the rugged cliffs which blend into the castle ruins and are also home to local seabirds and other wildlife, to visit Merlin’s Cave; named after the wizard Merlin, which it cut off twice a day by the tide, and to watch an introductory video entitled ‘Searching for King Arthur’ which tells of the castles past inhabitants. During the summer months visitors can also enjoy introductory talks.
The original fortress on the site was a high status settlement dating between 400 and 700AD, but the current remains date back to the 13th century castle built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall.
The castle was built in a traditional style to appear more suitable for a Cornish King and perhaps to connect to the legend of King Arthur. Following his death the castle was of no interest to his successors and so it was left to the county sheriff where parts were used a prison, but it continued to fall into disrepair and finally left as ruins.
The castle site became a tourist attraction in the Victorian period due the interest in Arthurian legend and the Rev. Kinsman was made honorary constable of the castle. He built a courtyard wall and employed a guide to show visitors around the site. In the 20th century the remains of the castle were passed to English Heritage by the Duke of Cornwall, Prince Charles, and are now responsible for the site.
The one act play ‘The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall at Tintagel in Lyonesse by Thomas Hardy was based at the castle and includes an imaginary drawing of the castle at the time the pay was set.
Traditionally linked with the legend of King Arthur, Tintagel Castle was alleged by Geoffrey of Monmouth to be the place where King Arthur was born after King Uther Pendragon seduced Queen Igraine of Cornwall whilst her husband was at war.
Other Castles in the Area
Launceston Castle, Cornwall
Restormel Castle, Cornwall