Archaeologists excavating at Tintagel

Tintagel Dig

Archaeologists return to Tintagel Castle this summer for a five-week excavation of the historic Cornish site. From 10th July to 11th August, a team of experts will explore beneath the surface of the cliff top, where last year remarkable evidence of an early medieval settlement came to light.

Join us as we unearth what life was like at Tintagel over 1000 years ago. We've got a series of events running throughout the summer, so you can get up close to the action yourself.

#TintagelDig

Find an event

Two archaeologists excavating on the cliff top

Why are we digging?

As part of a five-year project, English Heritage and Cornwall Archaeology Unit have set out to discover more about life at Tintagel Castle during the 5th to 6th centuries. The dig started last summer with a preliminary excavation, but what we've found has already exceeded expectations.

Archaeologists have uncovered remains of a settlement on the headland, with an array of artefacts suggesting this was an important site in early medieval times. Well-preserved stone walls have been discovered, with evidence of wealth, fine dining and trade with the Mediterannean world.

Key finds from 2016 include:

  • Around 200 sherds of imported Mediterranean pottery
  • A large wall about 1 metre thick
  • Domestic items
  • Items possibly used for hunting
  • Animal bone fragments

Read our blog

Get involved

Close up of archaeologist holding pottery sherd

See the excavations in action and hear about new discoveries as they happen. We'll be digging every day except Saturdays, with experts on hand to answer your questions.

Alongside the dig, we're putting on plenty of events this summer, like the Archaeology Festival. Budding archaeologists will have the chance to get stuck in (and get their hands dirty) with demonstrations, talks, tours, kids activities and more.

Find an event
  • An archaeological artifact held on on the palm of a person's hand.

    Archaeology Festival

    Mon 24 - Fri 28 Jul 2017 11am-5pm

    Join us as our archaeologists dig deep to reveal the hidden secrets of Tintagel's past. There will be expert led talks and demonstrations plus hands on activities the whole family can enjoy.

  • A boy searching for artifacts in a sand pit.

    Hands on History - Medieval Archaeology

    Sat 29 - Mon 31 Jul 2017 11am-5pm

    Calling all budding archaeologists! Join us at Tintagel this summer, where we're digging deep into the castle's medieval past.

  • Three children taking part in the sandpit dig

    Hands on History - Medieval Archaeology

    Fri 4 - Mon 7 Aug 2017 11am-5pm

    Join the Hands on History Crew for a summer of fun-filled kids' events. Be transported back through Tintagel's past, with historic quests and activities.

Explore Tintagel's History

The view from Tintagel out to sea

Excavations show that people were living at Tintagel from at least 400-500 AD. This was a tumultuous period in history, following the fall of the Roman Empire. Trade was greatly disrupted in England, when the economy collapsed.

However, archaeologists have found that early medieval life at Tintagel was far from bleak. There has been more imported pottery excavated here than anywhere else in the British Isles, revealing a wealthy settlement that traded with the Mediterranean world. Discover Tintagel's rich history in the visitor centre, where you can see some of the castle's historic artefacts. 

With such a wealth of finds beneath its surface, specialists believe Tintagel could have been occupied by the regional leaders of Dumnonia - a Celtic kingdom. This year's dig aims to uncover more about this prosperous community.

Discover Tintagel's Past

Follow the finds

Four archaeologists excavating on the headland

Follow us on Twitter to keep up-to-date with this year's archaeological excavations. Our team will be tweeting from the trenches, with facts, photos and finds from the dig.

#TintagelDig

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More about Tintagel Castle

  • Close up of digging tools

    Research on Tintagel Castle

    Find out how archaeology has transformed our understanding of Tintagel over the last century, and what remains to be discovered by further research.

  • Two archaeologists working on the headland

    BLOG: 2016 Discoveries and Excavations

    Learn more about the evidence an early medieval settlement at Tintagel that came to light during last summer's dig.

  • Illustration of medieval Tintagel

    History of Tintagel

    Read an in-depth history of the castle from its origins in the Roman period to the present day, and find out why Tintagel's history and legends are so intertwined.

  • Group taking photographs on the Tintagel headland

    Plan a weekend in Cornwall

    Escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and plan a long weekend of history in this incredible part of south west England.

  • Dad and two children exploring Tintagel Castle

    Family Guide to Tintagel

    There's plenty to do for all the family at Tintagel Castle. We've put together some top tips and things to look out for, to bring your visit to life.

  • Family looking out to sea at Tintagel Castle

    Family membership

    Enjoy unlimited access to over 400 historic places across the country with annual family membership from £50.

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