A Place of Magic and Legend
Tintagel is located on the north coast of Cornwall. It is a place which is full of magic and enchantment. It attracts visitors from all over the world. Some are drawn towards it for its quaintness and others for its King Arthur connection, others still for the inspiration it offers painters and writers. With its wild rugged rocks Tintagel can be a place of tranquillity in good weather and bleak in winter. The hauntingly beautiful coastline
History of Tintagel
The name Tintagel originally only applied to the island where the castle is located. In modern times it relates to the seven hamlets; Treven, Trevalga, Trethevy, Trevena, Trebarwith, Bossiney, and Tregatta.
Trevena is the hamlet in the main street of Tintagel where the shops are. Its Cornish name is Tre war Vendyh which means village on a mountain.
It is a place with a rich history that dates back at least to the Roman times.
There are many shops and cafes here, although some may be shut in winter. There are also a number of gift shops.
Tintagel castle is a ruin, and there is not much left of it. It was built in the 12th century.
The legends and magic of Tintagel has stood the test of time far better than the castle itself. It is claimed that it may be the birth of Kind Arthur. You will have to decide for yourself as to if King Arthur’s parents; Uther Pendragon and the Queen of Cornwall met here. There are also the remains of a monastery.
Tintagel castle does have a video room in which you can watch the film, ‘Searching for King Arthur.’
The castle is accessed via a long, steep path. The public are not allowed to drive down here and must either walk or take the land rover service if it is running.
Once at Tintagel castle there are two choices. To the left is a very steep and long set of steps leading up to the castle on the mainland and to the right are the steps leading to the island. It is a good idea to take a bottle of water with you.
It is possible to turn of the path leading down to the castle and access the castle via the coast path. This can be easier as you then will walk down the steep steps rather than up them.
If you step onto Tintagel castle beach you will find two tunnels, The smaller one is man made and leads to the meadow about the cliff. The larger cave is known as Merlin’s cave and is said to be where Merlin once resisted and according to legend still does.
Tintagel castle often runs events so it is worth checking out what is on and planning your visit.
The Old Post Office
The old post office at Tintagel is a fourteenth century building with the craziest topsy turvy slate roof. Although it is the former post office it started life as a yeoman’s farmhouse. In fact it was only a post office for a short time during the Victorian era, when it was used as a letter receiving station.
Stepping into this building is like journeying back in time and fuels the imagination as to what life was once like. It is filled with Victorian postal equipment and 16th century furniture.
Tintagel old post office is now owned by the National Trust and was their first built property in Cornwall.
Outside there is as a Roman milestone which dates back to 250 AD
St Materiana Church
St Materiana is the main church in Tintagel and is set high up on the cliff top. It is believed there has been a church on this site since the 6th century. The current church was built between 1058 and 1150., whilst the tower is late 11th or 12th century. It has a Grade I listing. It is believed that it started as a sister church to the nearby Minister church at Boscastle.
In the church is a stained glass window and and statue dedicated to Saint Materiana.
There is both a north door and a south door. Both date from around the 14th century, although the north door is probably the older of the two.
Saint Materiana is a little known saint and is patron of three churches. Two of these churches are in Cornwall; Tintagel and is neighbouring village Boscastle, and the third is located in Wales.
She is believed to have been a 5th century princess, and the eldest daughter of King Votimer the Blessed.
The church also has portraits of Saint George and Saint Piran, There are three modern copies of old master paintings. It has a peel of six bells which dates from 1735 to 1945.
Outside there is a Roman milestone which bears the name of Emperor Lincinius (d. 324)
King Arthur’s Great Halls
The Great Halls are found at the main junction as you come into the centre of Tintagel. Although the halls were built a long time after King Arthur’s time it is still a gem of a find. It was built in the 1930s by Frederick Thomas Glasscock who used it as meeting place for Order of the Fellowship of the Knights of the Round Table.
It does contain a round table and a throne, as well as artwork and books themed around King Arthur.
This is a very impressive looking hall and well worth a visit if you are in Tintagel.
Rocky Valley, Labyrinth
Rocky Valley is jut outside of the main part of Tintagel. It is located in the hamlet of Trethevy close to the lay-by. It is also on the South West Coast Path that leads around Cornwall.
There are two mills in the valley; Trevillet Mill and Trethevy Mill. Trevillet mill is used as private residence (sometimes as a tea garden) and Trethevy mill is a ruin. Trethevy mill was used in the 18th century as to produce woollen products.
Rocky Valley has the Cornish name Glynn Duwy. It a steep valley on the river Duwy. Duwy means, ‘dark river.’
This is a little utopia for nature lovers and is home to a range of plants, flowers and 161 different types of moss.
What Rocky Valley is really famous for is the labyrinth carvings which are believed to date from the Bronze Age ( 1800 – 1400 BC). Modern scholars disagree with this and argue that they were made with metal tools and less than three hundred.
In 2005 it was claimed that there was a third fainter labyrinth and the two modern labyrinths are a copy of them. This has not be confirmed.
It is owned by the National Trust, also its free to access.
St Nectan’s Glen
St Nectan’s Glen is further up the river from Rocky Valley (although there are accessed from different points).
Although the entire woody area is known as St Nectan’s Glen the waterfall is the main attraction.
Here you will also find the hermitage of St Nectan’s where you can light a candle or say a prayer. There is also a cafe where you can have a cup of tea or a scone.
The waterfall is known as St Nectan’s Kieve. It is 60ft high and falls through into a basin. It almost looks as it is man made but the flow of water have carved this waterfall out naturally.
When Saint Nectan lived here he rang a silver bell when there was stormy weather to warn boats there were nearing the cliff. It is said that the bell can still be heard.
According to legend there is also some ‘treasure,’ hidden under the stream. In the past people tried to dig here and find the treasure but a voice told them the child who could claim the treasure had not yet be born.
Legend also claims King Arthur and his knights came here to be blessed.
In recent times it has been adorned with spiritual offerings. So there are many ribbons, crystal, candles, photos and other items left here. Please always treat place in nature with respect and remember that thousands of people visit such sites and one offering can soon multiply.
It is been classed as a site of Special Scientific Interest.
Access to the glen is free, but the waterfall and hermitage is a commercial business. There is also a cafe there where you
Condolden barrow is hard to miss as you look towards the hillside of Tintagel. The sheer size of this burial site indicates that an important lies here. According to legend it is the gave of Lady Isolde. Historians think it may be Cador, the 6th century King of Cornwall. Cador also makes an appearance as one of King Arthur’s knight.
Other Places Nearby
Further afield from Tintagel although keeping on the King Arthur theme 15 miles away on Bodmin moor is Dozymary Pool where Lady of the Lake is said to have lived. Nearby Camelford may have been Camelot and Slaughterbridge is believed to be the place of King Arthur’s death.
Fantasy Books Based on Tintagel
Mists of Avalon
Morgaine, gifted with the Sight and fated with her brother-lover’s doom, recounts the glorious tragedy of Camelot’s brief flowering – not as a tale of knightly deeds, but as a woman’s rounded view of society in the crucible of change.
Through the lives of pious Guinevere, ambitious Morgouse, austere Viviane and her successor as Lady of the Lake, Morgaine herself, this rich and haunting epic reveals a greater threat to the idyll than the Saxons. For the spread of patriarchal Roman ways and a narrow Christianity seem likely to alienate the Old People, and drive the ancient worship of the Mother forever into the mists…
Amazon UK: The Mists of Avalon
Amazon UK: The Mists of Avalon: Avalon Book 1
Tales of Tintagel Dragon
Why is the roof of Tintagel’s Old Post Office so curvy?
Why is there a hole in the waterfall at St Nectan’s Glen?
What caused the plane crash in Tintagel in 1979?
How did a small boy survive being swept out to sea at Trebarwith Strand in 1973?
How did a father and son survive a similar accident at Bossiney in 1998?
The answer to all these questions is: The Tintagel Dragon did it!
If you like dragons, you will love the Tintagel Dragon.
He is young and lonely.
He needs a friend.
Dragons have chosen to become invisible because, for many centuries, only stories of evil dragons were told. But not all dragons are bad. Now Jill Lamede reveals the childhood of a friendly creature, The Tintagel Dragon, and tells his side of the truth.
Amazon USA: Tales of The Tintagel Dragon
Amazon UK: Tales of the Tintagel Dragon