Building bridges: Installation of Tintagel Castle’s new bridge begins

  • English Heritage project enters final phase as sections of new bridge arrive in Tintagel
  • 12 steel sections will be installed by cable crane over the coming weeks
  • Spanning approximately 70 metres the new bridge will recreate the historic link between the mainland and island


The new footbridge at Tintagel Castle is beginning to take shape, English Heritage announced today (18 June), as sections of the dramatic steel crossing have started to be installed at the coastal site, ahead of the castle re-opening this summer. The bridge has been divided into 12 separate sections, each made from up to 4.5 tonnes of steel, which are arriving in Tintagel village fully fabricated before being lifted into place at the castle by an ingenious cable crane. The installation of the steel sections marks the final stage of the ambitious project, which will improve access to the site, recreate the historic crossing between the mainland and island, and help to conserve and protect the landscape.

Designed by Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates Architectural Practice, Tintagel Castle’s new footbridge is a striking feat of engineering.  It will be installed in 12 steel sections, each with five key elements: the lower chord, upper chord, deck bracing, Telford bracing and finger joints. Production began offsite in the autumn and the sections forming the mainland half of the bridge have arrived in Tintagel to be installed this week.

Tintagel’s remote location and challenging landscape have called for an innovative approach to the construction. The bridge is made from two cantilevers which reach out and touch, almost, in the middle. It will be installed without scaffolding or free standing supports – instead an unusual cable crane has been constructed for the task. Using technology pioneered in the Swiss Alps, the cable crane has already been used to deliver materials to the site, put in place the rock anchors and build the foundations for the bridge. Now it is being called into action to drop each of the 12 pre-fabricated sections of the bridge into place.

"This is the moment we’ve all been looking forward to," comments Georgia Butters, English Heritage’s Head of Historic Properties in Cornwall. "Preparation work for the bridge began in the autumn, with the installation of the rock anchors and foundations, but this is when we can start to see all that work really coming together. Following the arrival of the first pieces this week we will quickly see the bridge take shape. It will be a spectacular new addition to the site, and will hugely improve the experience and access for our visitors."

Today the remains of the 13th-century Tintagel Castle can be seen on both the mainland and the jagged island jutting into the sea but Tintagel’s divided landmasses were once united by a narrow strip of land. The castle remains on the island are currently reached via a challenging steep staircase but the new footbridge will follow the path of the original land bridge, allowing visitors to experience the castle as its historic inhabitants once did. So significant was the original narrow access that it gave rise to the stronghold's name, the Cornish Din Tagell meaning 'the Fortress of the Narrow Entrance'.

Tintagel Castle welcomes almost 250,000 visitors each year and the new footbridge will help to reduce congestion – especially at peak periods – and provide a step-free route onto the island helping more people to enjoy their visit to the castle. The footbridge is part of a larger £5m programme of works by English Heritage which will also improve the footpaths around the site, helping to limit the impact of visitors on Tintagel Castle’s unique archaeology and ecology.

Tintagel Castle is closed to the public throughout the construction of the bridge, and will reopen this summer. When the site reopens timed ticketing will be introduced to manage the number of people visiting the historic site, helping to protect Tintagel’s landscape.

Tintagel Castle’s new footbridge has been generously funded by Julia and Hans Rausing.

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