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If you have an interest in Arthurian legend, Tintagel Castle is a place you definitely want to visit. Rumoured to be the place where Arthur himself was conceived, this once impressive castle is still a breathtaking site to see.
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The Myths & Legends Of King Arthur
I love stories revolving around myths and legends, and one of my favourite books is the Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It tells the story of King Arthur and Camelot from the perspective of the women involved in the legend, primarily Morgan Le Fey, the priestess of Avalon, who is trying to protect her culture. In a time when Christianity is threatening to destroy Paganism, Morgaine, Gwenhwfar, Viviane, Morgause and Igraine tell you their stories of love, heartbreak and discovery.
Set in places such as Glastonbury, Cornwall and Wales, the story is made to feel that much more real, when you can visit and imagine the places described. I have visited Glastonbury Abbey, and the Chalice Gardens, where you can feel the legends of old, almost come to life. I have climbed Glastonbury Tor, and you can see for miles all around, and envisage the island of Avalon as it would have been in the novel. The locals in Glastonbury are proud of their Arthurian heritage and it shows in every aspect of their town.
I just had to visit Tintagel, as Cornwall is also where my best friend spent much of her childhood and she has told me so much of her time there. Her stories, and the way she describes her time there, make it feel magical. It only felt right that she should come with me to the Castle, so off we went!
There is so much to do at Tintagel!
The castle itself is one of the English Heritage protected sites. Set high on Cornwall’s north coast, between Padstow and Bude, it is steeped in history, particularly it’s link to the Arthurian legend.
Before you take on the steep climb to the castle, you can visit the exhibition, called Where History Meets Legend. The exhibition showcases artefacts that have been discovered at the site, as well as a 3D model of the headland which shows how it has changed over time.
While exploring the site, you will find display panels that explain the history of Tinatgel Castle and events that have happened there through time. There is also a stone compass that points to the sites from Arthurian legend.
You will have to tackle 148 steps to reach the island, but it is so worth it! There you will walk through the remains of the Great Hall which was built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and into the dark age settlements. When the weather is nice the Great Hall actually makes a perfect place to stop for a picnic. You will definitely need refreshments after all those steps!
The views from this area are spectacular. The rugged rocks are a perfect outline to the ocean, and it’s easy to immerse yourself in yet more history. Imagine how our ancestors lived here, or just sit and soak up the natural beauty of this wonderful place.
The legend of King Arthur was linked to Tintagel in the 12th century when Geoffrey of Monmouth declared it to be the place where the legendary king was conceived.
King Arthur’s legend is a fascinating story that has captivated thousands; most probably because of the heroism and magical elements involved. Arthur was said to be a good and true king, with his famed Excalibur sword. He protected all he ruled over and was well loved by his people. Visiting the sites of his legend brings you closer to believing it could have indeed been true.
See the remains of the settlements where Cornish rulers lived and traded tin for exotic goods with far off places. Walk through the remains of houses surrounding Tintagel Castle, built in the 5th and 7th centuries. These houses were extremely small compared to the homes we are used to today. But they would have been built by the owners, who wouldn’t have had the tradesman’s experience of the modern age.
There is a beach at the foot of the castle. Here you can paddle, walk along the shore and even explore Merlins cave when the tide goes out. It is believed that the Merlin would have lived here when the kings and queens were ruling; he would have been one of their most trusted advisers.
You can complete your visit with a trip to the beach cafe. It provides locally sourced foods, and children’s meals are provided in a bucket with a spade. So you can visit the beach after eating if you like!
The adventures don’t stop there either, you can walk the South West coast path; maybe spot some seals in the water, or explore Tintagel village.
Some fantastic shops can be found here, selling crystals and souvenirs. This another town that is very proud of their Arthurian links. You will find plenty of pubs for an afternoon drink and the restaurants have superb food to offer.
There are still plenty of places that I would like to visit. I really enjoy seeing the legends of Arthur brought to life. I will be sure to keep you updated as I get the opportunity to visit them.
If you are also a King Arthur fan, I would highly recommend getting yourself a copy of the Mists Of Avalon; it’s a one of a kind view on a well known and loved story, and absolutely captivating. I couldn’t put it down!
Then be sure to start your adventures visiting the sites described so beautifully in the book!