Spotlight on

Spotlight on Tintagel

Tintagel Castle is the site of a Dark Age settlement and one of the most spectacular coastal landscapes to be found in England, steeped with Arthurian legend. In the 12th century, Tintagel was named by Geoffrey of Monmouth as the place where King Arthur was conceived, kindling the fire for 900 years of mystery.

From this initial proclamation to the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the allure of this mystical isle has continued to captivate us. Tintagel Castle remains a unique fusion of Dark Age history and ancient legend, and a feast for the imagination.

Why We Love Tintagel

We asked the Bean family what they love about Tintagel Castle.

"This is exactly what we love. We love crashing waves and mysterious coves, so this is our kind of beach."

"The setting can't be beaten. You throw in waterfalls and it's a pretty great place for the imagination."

"Cornwall is pretty much unmatched for combining interesting history and great landscapes, so it's perfect for us."

Things to do at Tintagel

Take A Closer Look

Located in a sheltered bay below the imposing island headland, the rocky beach and adjoining Merlin's Cave are a place to explore and let the imagination run wild. Immense boulders line the beach, and the valley stream cascades onto the sand below. Watch the video for a closer look at Tintagel's best-kept secret.

New For 2016

Tintagel is known as the place where history meets legend. In 2016, new on-site interpretation is exploring these two inseparable aspects of the island's past. A new exhibition features some recent finds from archaeological excavations, while storybook-themed displays take a fresh look at the centuries-old story.

Meanwhile, out on the headland, a new series of information panels reveals 1500 years of history - from royal stronghold to thriving trading port and a castle of romantic legend. The imposing Gallos statue - designed by artist Rubin Eynon - stands on top of the island, while a subtle engraving of Merlin can be found on the beach.

See what's New

What Makes Tintagel So Special?

The Views - Tintagel's position on an extended headland not only made it the ideal location for a defensive fortress, but today offers breathtaking panoramic views for miles along the Cornish coast and out across the vast Atlantic. Be sure to take a camera.

The History - Beginning in the so-called Dark Ages, from around AD 450, Tintagel was a prosperous and influential trading port with links to the distant world of the Mediterranean. The area remained important through to the building of Richard, Earl of Cornwall's 13th-century castle, the remnants of which are still present today. Explore the rooms of Richard's courtyards, halls and chapels, and imagine life in the medieval castle.

The Legend - For many visitors, the main attraction of this coastal landscape is still its legend, and the famed associations with King Arthur. Since being named in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain as the place of Arthur's magical conception, Tintagel gained literary prominence. The connection was cemented by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in the 19th century, in his Idylls of the King.

Plan your visit

3 things to look out for

  • The Face of Merlin

On the secluded beach, just at the mouth of the cave that carries his name, the face of the legendary wizard Merlin can be found etched into the rock. Only around the size of a real human face, Merlin can be tricky to spot. See if you can find this hidden treasure for the eagle-eyed visitor.

  • Upper Mainland and Gatehouse Courtyards 

For a full view of the island itself, you won't do better than the mainland courtyards. Located on a steep hill above the bridge, these two partially-intact castle lodgings and stables are easy to miss, but look out across the castle headland and the vast sea beyond, making for spectacular photos.

  • Tunnel and New Gallos Statue

While its date and exact function are unknown, the atmospheric tunnel at the western end of the island was created by expanding an existing natural cave, and may have been a food store. Nearby, a new statue created by Rubin Enyon stands tall. The statue is named Gallos (the Cornish word for power), and was actually modelled on Dave Allen, a member of staff at the site.

More to Explore

  • Archaeologists Unearth Secrets of Tintagel

    Excavations are taking place at Tintagel Castle as part of a five year research project into the enigmatic Cornish castle.

  • Explore Tintagel with our Interactive Map

    To help you plan your visit to Tintagel Castle, use this interactive image to discover what there is to see and do.

  • A Long Weekend in Cornwall

    Find everything you need for a weekend away in the county, in our day-by-day itinerary.

  • Members Do More

    Delve deeper into the past and enjoy unlimited access to over 400 historic places. Annual membership starts from £43.50

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