Tintagel, Cornwall: Birthplace of King Arthur

Tintagel is located on a rocky Peninsula on the northwest coast of Cornwall. At the base of the peninsula is Merlin's Cave that is said to be haunted by Merlin's ghost. It has been suggested that Geoffrey of Monmouth used the location of Tintagel as Arthur's birthplace to honour his patron's brother Reginald, the Earl of Cornwall. However, it has also been suggested that Reginald built his castle there in 1141 to cash in on the Arthurian phenomena created by Geoffrey of Monmouth's history.

Click on an image to view Tintagel photo glallery.

Tintagel house foundations predating local medieval houses
Tintagel is said to be the birthplace of King Arthur.

 Tintagel, Merlin's Cave
At base of Tintagel Island's cliff is Merlin's Cave suggested to be haunted by Merlin's ghost.

The ruins of the castle visible today are from a later castle built in the 1230s by Prince Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Excavations in the 1930s and 1980s uncovered 70 or more rectangular stone buildings and a Chapel dedicated to St. Juliot on the plateau and terraces of the peninsula. These buildings date to the medieval period. A few turf and stone structures date to the 5th and 6th century and are contemporary with large quantities of Mediterranean pottery. In fact, there is more Mediterranean pottery found at Tintagel then at all of other Dark Age sites in Britain.

In the 1990s archaeologists found evidence that the site was fortified in the mid 5th century. A small slate plaque was also found with the following words inscribed in Latin: "Artognou father of Coll had this building made". The name Artognou is translated as Arthur lending support for the historical reality of King Arthur. In sum, the archaeological evidence suggests that Tintagel was an important trade center and fortress at the time of King Arthur. Its ruler was rich and could trade long distances for valuable goods probably in exchange for tin.

Back to the previous page Go to the King Arthur home page Go to the next page
Like the site? Let us know!