11 February 2016

Merlin's face revealed at Tintagel Castle

As part of ongoing historical re-interpretation and investment at Tintagel, English Heritage unveils a new artwork of Merlin's face on Tintagel island in Cornwall.

Merlin's face at Tintagel

The new artwork is the first part of a project by English Heritage to reimagine Tintagel's history and legends across the island site. Further works will be revealed late this spring.

From today, visitors to Tintagel Castle can now see the sleeping face of Merlin, one of the most important characters in Arthurian legend, carved into the rocks on the beach.

"Merlin's face is just the beginning of our exciting new project here at Tintagel - but what a start," explains Property Manager Matt Ward.

"Tintagel is a place of landscape and legend, and Merlin, emerging so organically from the rock, sums that up perfectly. We've got lots more to come over the next few months and I can't wait to see it all take shape."

Sleeping Merlin unveiled to public

Peter Graham, an experienced local craftsman, has spent the last three months carving the face directly into the rock outside Merlin's Cave.

As Peter explains, the task has been challenging yet rewarding;

"Recreating Merlin has been a wonderful challenge. You are working in this amazing place, but with the elements too - enduring tides, gales, and winter storms.

Usually you would choose the perfect stone from a quarry, but here I have worked into the rock of Tintagel's landscape. Merlin has emerged organically out of that rock, to see him now is really rather satisfying."

The story of King Arthur at Tintagel

Tintagel Castle was first linked to the story of King Arthur in the 12th century by scholar Geoffrey of Monmouth. He described Tintagel as the island fortress where Arthur was conceived thanks to the magic of Merlin.

The location of the sculpture beside Merlin's Cave is significant. According to Tennyson, Merlin carried the infant Arthur to safety through the cave. Carved discreetly into the rock-face outside the cave, Merlin's profile can now be seen emerging from the stone.

The new project is the latest celebration of these literary connections - with Merlin's face a striking and enigmatic first step.

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