Storms and gusting winds have chiseled away at this corner of southwestern England for centuries, but the legends that inhabit the area still loom large.The rocky headland near the village of Tintagel has become so entwined with the legend of King Arthur that its true history seems almost incidental, despite a collection of rough stone foundations and listing walls that hint at its rich past.According to various poems, stories and popular myths, it was here, at the fortress of a Cornish duke, that King Arthur was conceived. Later versions of the story say Arthur was born at the site and may have lived here for a time.
question a medieval castle was built at Tintagel by Richard, Earl of
Cornwall, a younger brother of King Henry III.
Tantalizing remnants of
that structure -- crumbling stone barriers and doorways -- are still
But regardless of its
history, real or imagined, Tintagel offers remarkable glimpses of sheer
cliffs that stand tall above the sea.
The massive outcropping is
almost an island, connected to land only by a narrow and deeply eroded
passage. For travelers willing to hike dirt paths and climb long
flights of wooden stairs that curl up the cliffs, the visual delights
Those who make the trip to
Tintagel can wander the crags and dizzying cliff tops, stalk the ghost
of King Arthur and soak up the salty air and scenery for its own sake.
You canalso tour what is
believed to be the inner courtyard of Richard's castle and peer down at
a sandy inlet where ships once were loaded with cargo.
Robert Tremain, a site
supervisor for the preservation group English Heritage, which manages
the site, explained that a mixture of lime and sand was occasionally
applied to the walls of the ruins to protect them.
"You can tell the way the
weather has been beating at this," he said, pointing to pitted areas
amid the slabs of slate. "The elements are always there. It's the
natural erosion from the sea and the storms."
Richard may have built the
castle at the site because of the Arthurian legend, already well-known
by the time he began erecting the structure in the 13th century, he
said. "He wanted some of that glory to rub off on him," Tremainsaid.......
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