What's New

This summer saw the beginning of an exciting new archaeological project at Tintagel Castle to find out more about the historic site. Onsite excavations and cutting edge techniques form part of the first major research project at Tintagel for nearly twenty years.

Researching Tintagel Castle

We are working with Cornwall Archaeological Unit on a fascinating five year project to learn more about Tintagel’s past.  The first phase of the project saw archaeological excavations of the island from 18 July – 2 August 2016. Trenches were dug in two previously unexcavated terrace areas in a quest to find out more about how the people of Tintagel lived in the Post-Roman period from 5th to 7th centuries AD.

Cutting edge scientific techniques will now be used to analyse the findings, and build a better understanding of Tintagel’s past. Throughout the excavation samples of soil, ceramics, glass, iron, bone and molluscs have been collected and will now be sent for analysis, and tiny samples of carbon will be used for radiocarbon dating. Excavations will continue in Summer 2017.

Archaeological dig

Exploring Tintagel's History

Tintagel Castle has inspired imaginations for hundreds of years and is today one of Cornwall's most iconic and popular visitor attractions. A new exhibition launched in summer 2015, features displays of some of the finds from Tintagel Castle for the first time as well as taking a fresh look at the centuries old story. Designed to reflect the idea of a storybook containing many different tales, the exhibition explores how legend and reality have uniquely combined to shape Tintagel through the ages.

Book sculpture at exhibition at Tintagel Castle

New Outdoor Interpretation

New outdoor interpretation explores the history of the Cornish castle and the role legends have played in shaping the site that visitors see today. From the exhibition and new interpretation, visitors can get a complete overview of Tintagel's history - from the artefacts discovered there to the legends associated with it. A series of panels reveal 1500 years of Tintagel's past - from royal stronghold, to thriving trading port, to a castle of romantic legend.

A stone compass points to places connected with the legend of King Arthur and engraved stepping stones around the island garden tell the tragic love story of Tristan and Iseult, a medieval tale set at Tintagel. On the beach, close to Merlin's Cave, a discreet carved face represents Merlin, who has been associated with the site since the 12th century and immortalised by the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Created by artist Rubin Eynon, Gallos (meaning power in Cornish), is an 8ft bronze sculpture inspired by the legend of King Arthur and by the historic kings and royal figures associated with Tintagel.

The artist Rubin Eynon and sculpture Gallos

The Beach Cafe

Originally used as the offices for Tintagel's silver and lead mines, the Beach Cafe has been completely refurbished to better reflect the area's industrial past in its decor, using slate floors, copper lights and sun bleached wooden panels. With a focus on fresh, seasonal and local food, the cafe's new menu gives a real taste of Cornwall. The cafe is also now fully accessible for all visitors and is the perfect place to warm up after a blustery walk around the site.

Inside the Beach Cafe at Tintagel Castle

What's Next?

English Heritage plans to build a new footbridge at Tintagel Castle that will follow the path of the original crossing between the mainland and the headland. The bridge will help visitors to better understand the site's history and will also improve access to the island as well as help to protect and conserve the landscape.

A competition was launched in 2015 to find the best architectural and engineering team to design the new footbridge and six were shortlisted. A period of consultation took place and the company with the winning concept design was announced as Ney & Partners Civil Engineers and William Matthews Associates in March 2016. The project is due to be completed in 2019.

The winning team's concept design for the new bridge at Tintagel Castle 
© MRC/Emily Whitfield-Wicks and Ney & Partners

© MRC/Emily Whitfield-Wicks and Ney & Partners

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