King of the Castle – Cornwall

Certain stories endure through the ages and the legend of King Arthur is the daddy of them all.

The 148 steps onto the island to see Tintagel Castle in Cornwall have to be taken slowly and in single file. It’s steep, hard work, treading the well-worn stone grey steps to reach what would be known as the Great Hall, built by Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Tintagel, which for centuries has captured the imagination as the birthplace of King Arthur and home of Merlin, foretells of magic, and it’s truly a spectacular pile of rack and ruin to behold.


An aerial view of Tintagel Castle and its surroundings

The new film, King Arthur. Legend of the Sword, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Jude Law, David Beckham (really) and Charlie Hunman in the title role, released this March and will no doubt spark further interest in the legend.

The castle, connected to the mainland by a narrow neck of land, offers spectacular views of the dramatic Cornish coastline. It has had some ‘touristy’ additions in the past year, including Merlin’s face carved onto the stones by the beach — but the aim is to help preserve the magic for future generations. Open 10am-4pm in winter; with swordplay in the summer. english-heritage.org.uk/tintagel

Arthurian Connections

  • The Round Table, a Neolithic henge in Cumbria, was King Arthur’s jousting arena
  • Somerset’s Cadbury Castle a possible site of Camelot, King Arthur’s court
  • Northumberland’s Alnwick Castle (which found recent fame as Harry Potter’s Hogwarts) is, according to medieval texts, the castle of Lancelot, King Arthur’s knight.