Sources for Tintagel Castle

The following lists provide a summary of the main sources for our knowledge and understanding of Tintagel Castle. Useful bibliographies can be found in Charles Thomas’s Tintagel: Arthur and Archaeology (London, 1993) and RC Barrowman, CE Batey and CD Morris, Excavations at Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, 1990–1999, Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 74 (London, 2007).

Engraving of Tintagel Castle by Samuel Buck, 1734
Engraving of Tintagel by Samuel Buck, 1734

Primary Written Sources

The National Archives

Cartulary of Edmund, Earl of Cornwall: The National Archives (TNA), E36/57, folios 18v and 44v [copy dated about 1300 of the 1233 deeds by which Richard, Earl of Cornwall, bought the island of Tintagel and ‘Richard’s Castle’ from Gervase de Tyntagel]

Published Primary Sources

Grenville, Sir Richard, 1583, Survey of Tintagel, printed in Wilkinson (1871), 233–4 [the manuscript is in the State Papers (Domestic), in the National Archives; accessed 28 Sept 2012]

Hull, PL (ed), The Caption of Seisin of the Duchy of Cornwall, 1337, Devon and Cornwall Record Society, new series 17 (Torquay, 1971) [includes English translation of the survey of Tintagel on pp 27–8; records two chambers over the gateway, an upper element above the lower ward entrance, and a stable for eight horses. The manuscript is TNA: PRO, E120/1]

Matthaei Parisiensis, monachi sancti Albani, Chronica majora, vol IV, ed HR Luard (1877) 487 [account of the reception of Dafydd ap Llywelyn by Earl Richard at Tintagel in 1245]

Monmouth, Geoffrey of, The History of the Kings of Britain, ed MD Reeve and trans N Wright (2007), 184–9 [established the fame of King Arthur]

Toulmin Smith, L (ed), The Itinerary of John Leland on or about the Years 1535–1543, vol I (London, 1907) [several references but especially pp 177 and 316–17; describes the ruins of the castle when he visited in about 1540; accessed 28 Sept 2012]

Worcestre, William, Itineraries, ed JH Harvey (1969), 21, 95 [records Tintagel as the place of both the conception and birth of King Arthur, and notes that the castle was in ruins by the time of writing (1478)]

Visual Sources

The castle has been dramatically altered by erosion. Drawings from the 16th century onwards and early photographs therefore provide important evidence, showing significantly more of the castle than exists today. The state of the neck and the precise extent of the castle when it was built in the 13th century remain unknown.

Good collections of historic images are easily accessible in Thomas (1993), especially (but not only) on pp 11, 27, 31, 39, 42 and 127; and in the most recent guidebook (Batey 2010), pp 12, 22, 35, 36 and 38. Those listed below (except for the Turner) are all reproduced in one or both of these books.

  • Sir Richard Grenville, 1583, Plan of Tintagel (from his survey), British Library, Cotton MS Augustus I.ii fol 43 [accessed 28 Sept 2012]
  • J Norden, c 1604, ‘Tintagell, A Borowe’, British Library
  • S Buck, 1734, ‘The North View of Tintagel Castle in the County of Cornwall’ (see above)
  • W Borlase, ‘View of Tintagel Castle’, engraved by I Green
  • JMW Turner, 1815, ‘Tintagel Castle’, Boston Museum of Fine Arts (reproduced in Davison 1999) (there are several engravings based on this painting)

Historic England Archive

Items in the Historic England Archive at Swindon relating to Tintagel include:

  • CA Ralegh Radford’s excavation notes and survey drawings (RAD01/01)
  • property file containing 237 drawings of Tintagel Castle ranging in date from the early 17th century to 2005. These include reproductions of early images and more recent archaeological survey drawings (PF/TIN)
  • two albums of photographs of the site mostly taken between the 1930s and 1970s (AL0949 and AL0950).

More details of these and many other items can be found in the online catalogue. Some material is not yet listed online, including a large collection of aerial photography; for a full search, please contact the search team.

Copies of images and documents can be ordered through the website or by contacting the archive. For details of current charges for these services see the archive’s price list.

Two pieces of amphora, dating from the 5th or 6th centuries AD, found during excavations near the Great Hall at Tintagel Castle
Two pieces of amphora, dating from the 5th or 6th centuries AD, found during excavations near the Great Hall

Material Sources

Finds, both from Radford’s pre-war excavations and from those of the 1990s, are mostly deposited at the Royal Institution of Cornwall (Truro). Some finds are on display in the visitor centre at the castle.

The British Museum holds a collection of small archaeological finds (mostly Mediterranean pottery) from excavations at Tintagel which were deposited by the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments in 1949. The British Museum catalogue can be searched online.

Secondary Sources

Published Works

Barrowman, RC, Batey, CE and Morris, CD, Excavations at Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, 1990–1999, Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 74 (London, 2007)

Batey, CE, Tintagel Castle (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2010) [buy the guidebook]

Burrow, ICG, ‘Tintagel: some problems’, Scottish Archaeological Forum, 5 (1974), 99–103

Campbell, E, Continental and Mediterranean Imports to Atlantic Britain and Ireland, AD 400–800 (York, 2007)

Dark, KR, ‘The plan and interpretation of Tintagel’, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, 9 (1985), 1–17

Davison, BK, Tintagel Castle (English Heritage guidebook, London, 1999)

Dyer, P, Tintagel: A Portrait of a Parish (Peterborough, 2000) [for local background and old photos]

Hartgroves, S and Walker, R, ‘Excavations in the lower ward, Tintagel Castle, 1986’, Cornish Studies, 16 (1988), 9–30

Jenner, H, ‘Tintagel Castle in history and romance’, Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, 22 (1926–8), 190–200

Kinsman, RB, ‘A few observations on Tintagel Castle’, Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, 4 (1871–3), 42–6

Nowakowski, JA and Thomas, AC, Tintagel Churchyard: Excavations at Tintagel Parish Church, Cornwall, Spring 1990: Interim Report (Truro, 1990)

Nowakowski, JA and Thomas, AC, Grave News from Tintagel: An Account of a Season of Archaeological Excavation at Tintagel Churchyard, Cornwall, 1991 (Truro, 1992)

O'Mahoney, C, ‘Medieval pottery from Tintagel: a summary’, Cornish Studies, 16 (1988), 67–8

Padel, OJ, ‘Tintagel: an alternative view’, in A Provisional List of Imported Pottery in Post-Roman Western Britain and Ireland, ed C Thomas (Redruth, 1981), 28–9

Padel, OJ, ‘The Cornish background of the Tristan stories’, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, 1 (1981), 53–81

Padel, OJ, ‘Geoffrey of Monmouth and Cornwall’, Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, 8 (1984), 1–28

Padel, OJ, ‘Tintagel in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries’, Cornish Studies, 16 (1988), 61–6

Radford, CAR, Tintagel Castle (Office of Works Department of Ancient Monuments guidebook, 2nd edn, London, 1939)

Radford, CAR, ‘Tintagel: the castle and Celtic monastery’, Antiquaries Journal, 15 (1935), 401–19

Radford, CAR, ‘Tintagel in history and legend’, Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, 25 (1937–42), Appendix, 25–41

Smith, J Beverley, ‘Richard, Earl of Cornwall, Prince Dafydd ap Llywelyn and Tintagel Castle’, Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall (2010), 31–42

Thomas, C, ‘Minor sites at Tintagel Island’, Cornish Studies, 16 (1988), 31–48

Thomas, C, ‘CAU excavations at Tintagel Island, 1988: the discoveries and their implications’, Cornish Studies, 16 (1988), 49–60

Thomas, C, ‘The archaeology of Tintagel parish churchyard’, Cornish Studies, 16 (1988), 79–91

Thomas, C, Tintagel: Arthur and Archaeology (London, 1993)

Thomas, C, ‘Credit where credit is due? Stanley Casson and Tintagel’, Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall (2008), 7–20

Thomas, AC and Fowler, PJ, ‘Tintagel: a new survey of the “island”’, in Annual Review, Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England) (1984–5), 16–22

Thorpe, C, ‘Incised pictorial slates at Tintagel’, Cornish Studies, 16 (1988), 69–78

Whitley, HM, ‘Note to accompany Sir Richard Grenville's plott of Tintagel Castle’, Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, 8 (1883–5), 269–70

Wilkinson, JJ, ‘Tintagel Castle’, Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, 3 (1871), 225–35 [accessed 28 Sept 2012]

Unpublished Reports

Appleton, N, Fox, T and Waters, A, ‘Tintagel Castle: survey and excavation at the inner ward, the chapel, Site 4 and the garden’, 2 parts, CAU (Truro, 1988) [copy held by Cornwall Historic Environment Service]

Bayley, J, ‘Technological finds from Tintagel, Cornwall’, AML Report 195/1988 (English Heritage, 1988)

English Heritage, ‘Tintagel Castle: landscape report’ (English Heritage, n.d.)

Jefferson, D, ‘Geological and mineralogical aspects of parts of the site and the inscribed slate from Site “C”’ (English Heritage and University of Glasgow, 1999)

Lea, R, ‘Reconstructing Tintagel’ (English Heritage, 2009)

Photos-Jones, E, ‘The technical characterisation of industrial waste from Tintagel, 1999 excavations’, Scottish Analytical Services for Art and Archaeology Internal Reports 39 (Glasgow, 2000)

Reynolds, A, ‘Repairs to Tintagel Castle, Cornwall: archaeological recording’, Cornwall County Council Historic Environment Service (English Heritage, 2006)

Sharpe, A, ‘Coastal slate quarries: Tintagel to Trebarwith’, CAU for the National Trust (Truro, 1990)

Thomas, AC, ‘Tintagel site report’ (25/5/1984) [copy held by Cornwall Historic Environment Service]

Thomas, AC and Thorpe, CM, ‘Catalogue of all non-medieval finds from Tintagel, Tintagel Project 2’, Institute of Cornish Studies (Truro, 1988)

Thorpe, CM, ‘Pottery found at Tintagel, Cornwall: brief descriptions’ (Cornwall County Council, 2008)

Williams, DF, ‘Imported amphorae sherds from Tintagel: a preliminary report’, AML Report 4292 (English Heritage, undated)

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