Tintagel and the legend of King Arthur

Most of us remember the legend of King Arthur, his wizard Merlin and the great sword Excalibur. The story behind it has been the subject of folk lore for centuries, but one thing we know for certain is that King Arthur existed and that his story began in Tintagel.

The version of Arthur’s legend as seen in various forms such as television and film is largely based on the tale told by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his 12th Century book Historia Regum Britanniae however the characters and events vary between later stories. The version we remember today includes the additions made in the 12th-century by Frenchman Chrétien de Troyes who took Geoffrey’s version and added Lancelot and the Holy Grail to the story.

The tales remember Arthur as a legendary warrior who wielded his sword Excalibur to defend against not just regular enemies but also supernatural forms.

The remains of Tintagel Castle, where King Arthur was conceived, are located on the Peninsula of Tintagel Island which lies adjacent to the village. Geoffrey wrote that the wizard Merlin disguised the physical appearance of his father, King Uther Pendragon to that of Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall and the husband of Ygerna who was Arthur’s mother.

Tintagel itself is a small village in Cornwall recorded as having less than two-thousand inhabitants and is a popular location for visitors due to the great historical and archaeological importance of the area. There a numerous places to stay and the locally-based company Marsdens Cottage Holidays has a good selection of holiday accommodation in the area.

The fascinating attraction of King Arthur aside, the area is a great place to visit. Tintagel is situated on the coast and has wonderful turquoise water during warm weather due to the slate below and North Cornwall has plenty to see and do including visiting the fantastic Eden Project complete with the world’s largest greenhouse and biomes containing tropical plants.

Within the village you will find King Arthur’s Hall which was built for the Fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table, an order which was founded in the early 20th century to preserve Arthurian notions of medieval chivalry. The impressive building contains over 70 stained glass windows and a number of paintings depicting Arthur’s legend.

It’s a truly magical story and one the kids would love to get caught-up in while on holiday.

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  1. Jim, 5 years ago

    An exceptainaly beutiful location, the castle and headland is completely ruinous, and a physical challenge and not a trip for anyone with virtigo. However having expended some sweat the views are extrordinary,and well worth it. The visitors centre although small is good, and the landrover taxi service is well worth it’s small cost. Over all a castle well worth an afternoons visit, especially for those with interests stretching back into the age of migration.

    Jim (London)

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