Tintagel Castle

Tintagel Castle is a Medieval fortification located on the peninsula of Tintagel Island, adjacent to the village of Tintagel in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The site was possibly occupied in the Romano-British period, due to an array of artifacts dating to this period having being found on the peninsula, but as of yet no Roman era structure has been located as having existed there. It subsequently saw settlement during the Early Medieval period, when it was probably one of the seasonal residences of the regional king of Dumnonia. In the 13th century, during the Later Medieval period, after Cornwall had been subsumed into the kingdom of England, a castle was built on the site by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, which later fell into disrepair and ruin. Archaeological investigation into the site began in the 19th century as it became a tourist attraction, with visitors coming to see the ruins of Richard’s castle, excavations in the 1930s however revealed significant traces of a much earlier high status settlement that had trading links with the Mediterranean during the Late Roman period.

Not incidentally, the castle has a long association with the Arthurian legends, going back to the twelfth century when Geoffrey of Monmouth in his mythical account of British history, the Historia Regum Britanniae described Tintagel as the place of Arthur’s conception. According to the tale told by Geoffrey, his father, King Uther Pendragon, was disguised by Merlin’s sorcery to look like Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall the husband of Ygerna, Arthur’s mother.

Today, Tintagel Castle is a tourist destination, as it has been since the mid 19th century, and it is managed by the governmental organisation English Heritage. According to figures released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, nearly 200,000 people visited Tintagel Castle in 2009.

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