Monday, 23 April 2012

T is for Tintagel Castle, Cornwall


Legend links this site – a rocky headland amid wild and romantic scenery – with King Arthur, who is said to have been born here: England’s most famous King - Arthur son of Uther Pendragon.

The improved path and walkway down to the
island bridge
Arthur, through early writings, is held to have been the leader of the native Celts, who in the 6th C, kept the invading Saxons at bay, during the breakup of the Roman Empire.


There are remains here of earlier settlements associated with the monastery which grew up around the cell of St Juliot, a Celtic missionary who came to Tintagel about 500 AD. 

Looking down on the site
Prior to that it is thought the Romans may well have traded from here controlling their inland and coastal conquests, confirmed by Roman coins found in a drawstring leather purse.


Over time the stone huts attracted noble governors, with the site becoming a royal Castle attached to the Earldom of Cornwall; amongst its distinguished lords was Edward III’s son Edward, the Black Prince, who commissioned some of the surviving buildings.

Looking south-west from
Tintagel Island
Out of interest – Edward III  (1312 – 1377) is one of only five monarchs who have ruled England or its successor kingdoms for more than fifty years ... and his reign saw vital developments in legislation and government – in particular the evolution of the English parliament.  Another by –the- by ... he was born at Windsor Castle ...


The precariousness of the site meant that storms took their toll and by the 16th century the central portion connecting the inner ward with the lower ward and part of the great hall had been washed away by the sea.


The site then became derelict until interest in the Arthurian legend revived in the 19th century.  Tennyson’s poems popularised that legend and the ruins were stabilised and repaired in 1850s.

A sea fortress

Tennyson ‘s “Idylls of the King” is a cycle of twelve narrative poems retelling the legend of King Arthur, his knights, his love for Guinevere and her tragic betrayal of him, and the rise and fall of Arthur’s kingdom.


The site is now under the care of English Heritage who over time have created walkways around the castle, up and down the cliffs, and have erected a wooden bridge across the isthmus for the safety of visitors.

King Arthur’s Great Hall – Frederick Thomas Glassock (d 1934), a custard millionaire, realised and dedicated the indoor attraction to the Arthurian legend.


One of the stained glass windows
made out of local stone - see the site
at King Arthur's Great Hall
It has featured in many tv programmes and films: the hall includes an authentic round table and granite thrones surrounded by 72 fabulous stained glass windows.  These windows were created by a pupil of William Morris, tell the story and show the Coats of Arms and weapons of the knights.


The legend of King Arthur is brought to life with spectacular laser lights, music and a narration by the actor, Robert Powell.  KingArthur’s Great Halls certainly bring the legend to life ... 


That is T for Tintagel Castle in Cornwall – a ruin, where the seas have torn at the cliffs, leaving us with the folklore of King Arthur to a large extent tantalisingly unknown ... part of the ABC series Aspects of British Castles.

Bob Scotney featured Spofforth Castle, North Yorkshire on Saturday

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

37 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

You certainly are travelling around Hilary, this castle so full of history is a wonderful example of our heritage.

Yvonne.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Another great post, I don't seem to be able to follow the link to King Arthur's great Hall, but I have really enjoyed this post of yet another place I have never heard of. Diane

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yvonne .. Cornwall is 'my' county - and I probably went to Tintagel as a child, as we were always right down in the St Ives, Penzance area .. so I wanted to investigate Tintagel a bit more!

@ Diane .. thanks for telling me about the link - it's been corrected now .. I had Chrome challenges this a.m. ...

Glad you enjoyed the 'tour' .. and new to you castle ..

Cheers Hilary

Bob Scotney said...

Hi Hilary. I've driven by Tintagel but never had time to stop. Of course when I do I would visit Merlin's Cave below it castle in the hope of seeing Merlin's ghost.

Pleased to see that we have managed to choose different castles again. Meanwhile I have to find out what excalibur had to do with Taunton.

Lynn said...

I'd visit this one just because of that Arthurian legend. Lovely.

Old Kitty said...

What a legend and legendary castle too!! Love how it's all windswept and buffered against the wild sea! Truly romantic! Take care
x

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bob .. thanks - yes I was going to mention Merlin's cave - then remembered it's about Castles! Then forgot and put in the link to Arthur's Great Halls!

Yes - it's great that we've managed to so far only do one the same (N) - there are so many though ..

Interesting to know about the link between Excalibur and Taunton .. so much myth and legend from that time.

@ Lynn - yes, I'm sure many people will visit exactly for that reason .. on a good day it's just a beautiful Cornish area ...

Thanks Bob and Lynn .. cheers Hilary

Jo said...

This is a castle I have visited. We had our honeymoon in Cornwall and of course visited Tintagel. I have always been interested in the Arthurian Legends.

Slamdunk said...

Sounds lovely Hilary. I may need some safety ropes to walk that improved path though...

Lucy Adams said...

Those steps look treacherous!

Inger said...

One of my regrets is that I never went to Cornwall when I lived in England. Looking at the pictures and reading your text, makes me sorry about that to this day. That is some spectacular scenery and add the legends. Wow!

Lynn Proctor said...

wow--love the stained glass windows--all beautiful pictures

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Old Kitty - it's certainly windswept .. and yes the Arthurian legends on all levels are stormy and romantic - fits the castle.

@ Jo - oh good - it's good to know you've visited it .. a Cornish honeymoon .. many take one of those. Another Arthurian fan ..

@ Slamdunk - many thanks - they've given you a hand-rail! Also I guess the granite steps will be non-slippery ..

@ Lucy - as I said to Slamdunk .. I think they'd be ok .. but it looks somewhat 'interesting' doesn't it!

@ Inger - that's a pity .. but it was a long way in the 60s .. I've been lucky to have been there so often ... plenty of myths, legends and ancient life in Cornwall ..

I'm glad you're enjoying the photos.

@ Lynn - I've only just found the stained glass windows and the information on them - so next time I get down - I'll pay King Arthur's Hall a visit .. it may be a tourist trap - but I'll be brave!

Thanks so much for visiting - it's a castle for the intrepid!! Cheers Hilary

L.G.Smith said...

Wow, I'll bet that table, throne, and stained glass would be something to see. And those stairs! You know I'd end up at the bottom in a pile on the ground. :)

jabblog said...

Just the name Tintagel conjures visions of gallantry and derring-do. Somehow a custard millionaire makes it seem rather too prosaic;-)

Friko said...

A wonderful place, romantic and dripping with legend and history. One I've seen and enjoyed.

Jo said...

Oddest thing, your comment on my blog came through to my email, but doesn't show on my blog????

Annalisa Crawford said...

Now that my kids are older, and I can trust them not to fall off the cliff, I'll be taking them there this summer!

beccabooklover said...

Magical post. I love everything to do with the Arthurian legend and would love to visit Tintagel. Looks beautiful.

Susan Scheid said...

I find it particularly wonderful that a poet seems to have spurred the saving of this wonderful place. Such a great series, Hilary! I can only stand and applaud.

klahanie said...

Greetings Hilary,
Superb and most informative. I was so hoping you might be using Tintagel for the letter "T".
The fascination with the legends surrounding it, have made me want to visit there, for many a while.
And the one in Staffordshire, for your info, was Tutbury :)
All the best and thanks for another excellent article on castles.
In kindness, Gary

Clarissa Draper said...

It's too bad so much of the castle is gone. I would be lovely to visit the site of the legendary King Arther.

Karen Lange said...

Very interesting, Hilary! Once again, you have informed me in a delightful way. Thanks so much! :)

DeniseCovey_L_Aussie said...

This is great Hilary. The lovers of the Arthurian legends will especially love this.

Denise

Paula Martin said...

I LOVE Tintagel- even though the climb up to it was scary, as I have to use a walking stick due to my arthritis. But I was determined to make it up all those rocky steps and I did it! When I got there, a lady stopped me and said 'My dear, you deserve a medal for managing to get up here.' My reply was: 'Getting down those steps will be even more scary than getting up!' But I managed that too!

Betsy said...

wow...I can't get over that stained glass window!

That stairway or pathway is amazing! I suppose once you get down there you don't really want to make the climb back up! ha.

Chuck said...

This is one castle I really would love to see for the history that has played out over several movies and stories of King Arthur. Good one Hilary.

Botanist said...

I remember visiting Tintagel, years ago. Looks like they've made serious changes to the steps down and up the other side.

I remember a story back then, that if you tried to count the number of steps nobody would arrive at the same number. The whole group of us tried, and, true enough, none of us could agree on the exact number.

Empty Nest Insider said...

This is fascinating to see, and I love the legend of King Arthur! Now I can't get the songs from Camelot out of my mind! Julie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Luanne - now I've realised the care that was taken at King Arthur's Hall and the fact members of the Arts and Craft Movement were involved - I am looking forward to seeing it - it's obviously not Disneyfied ..

Ah! the stairs .. that's another matter - me too probably and I'd huff and puff all the way up!

@ Janice - I loved that connection of the custard millionaire - and had to slip it in .. to the Tintagel myth and legend.

@ Friko - I'm glad you've been to the Castle - as you say .. very romantic on a warm, windless day!

@ Jo - I know .. it happens with one or two blogs, for some indeterminable reason .. we usually email/comment when appropriate with other bloggers ...

@ Annalisa - if you're in Devon - that's not far is it .. I hope you have a lovely day out - perhaps you'll let us know?

@ Becca - I hope you get to visit one day .. Tintagel offers so much doesn't it ...

@ Susan - it always surprises me how far people travelled 100 - 200 years ago in search of their art - be it writing, poems, legend, myth ... we're very lucky that Tennyson wrote his poems ..

... and that Glassock built the indoor attraction - with its Cornish stones being used within the stained glass windows.

So pleased you're enjoying the series ...

@ Gary - great to see you - ah ah were you - glad I complied! .. Tintagel offers much - despite its ruined state .. I hope you can get down there for a visit sometime ..

I see Tutbury could have been one of Bob's as it features in one of the most Haunted!

@ Clarissa - it's a rough and wild coastline .. and shows the effect of the seas on our shores - even on granite cliffs!

@ Karen - delighted you enjoyed the post ..

@ Denise - many thanks - yes I'm glad I chose Tintagel, thought I couldn't leave it out .. its name is so well known ...

@ Paula - well done .. I must now go and make the effort - it looked daunting when I went on a very cold and wet day .. so I didn't set out. I obviously must give it a go .. particularly as I visit Cornwall fairly often ..

@ Betsy - once I'd found out the history behind the stained glass window - I was definitely in awe.

Going up and down looks quite daunting doesn't it .. once you've gone - we have to come back!

@ Chuck - you're right .. we know the castle from the movies and legends of King Arthur - and the fact the Hall features in so many shows ...

@ Ian - yes - I visited years ago, before the serious refurbishment was put in place.

Good game ... counting steps - it is surprisingly difficult isn't it - I expect the guidebook would give it away now!

@ Julie - sorry about the Camelot song .. it's romantic at least ... and I'm glad you enjoyed 'the visit' even if it's via the net ..

Thanks everyone - so pleased Tintagel stirred many memories .. cheers Hilary

juliet said...

This one really appeals, for it's so full of myth and legend, and the site is spectacular. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, because although I've heard of it, I've never seen it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Juliet .. delighted that this hit the right spot - the site is certainly spectacular - very craggy with crashing waves below! Many thanks - Hilary

Theresa Milstein said...

Oh my goodness, what a gorgeous location! Of all the castles in your series, this is the one I want to visit. Wow!

Bex said...

I love Tintagel Castle. I used to visit there as a kid, could never get enough of the ruggedness of the place.
Great blog - nearly at the end of our Challenge now!

Bex
www.leavingcairo.blogspot.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Theresa .. this is one ruin!! But for the legend, myths and reality that abounds - I can understand your wish. Cornwall is a beautiful rugged county ..

@ Bex - good to see you .. you must have many happy memories of those cliffs - it's some place, isn't it. Many thanks re your comment .. yes nearly there .. see you shortly!

Cheers Theresa and Bex .. thanks for visiting - Hilary

Robyn Campbell said...

Beautiful, Hilary! King Arthur! Those stained glass windows are absolutely captivating. The sea fortress lovely. What a great castle tour you have taken us on. :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Robyn .. so glad you enjoyed the tour around - this Castle is interesting and will keep us fit running up and down those stairs.

Now I would like to see King Arthur's Hall .. just to see what it is like .. and to see the stained glass windows and how they were made.

Cheers Hilary