Rock of ages: visit King Arthur’s ‘birthplace’

Upon a rock on Cornwall’s rugged northern coast, reached via a bridge, are the remains of Tintagel Castle, and as legend has it, the fortification was built on the site where King Arthur was conceived and born.

Although the peninsula has been inhabited as far back as the Dark Ages (around 5th–7th centuries AD) – likely home to Cornwall’s rulers at the time – it was Geoffrey of Monmouth, in his Historia Regum Britanniae (‘History of the Kings of Britain’) circa 1136, who first identified Tintagel in Cornwall as the place where Arthur was conceived.

Tintagel Castle, originally constructed in 1233 for Richard, Earl of Cornwall, had by the 15th-Century ‘officially’ become the place of both Arthur’s conception and his birth.

Today, the ruins of Tintagel Castle are maintained by English Heritage, who offer visitors a complete Arthurian experience, including an exhibition on Tintagel’s varied past, and an outdoor interpretation of the ruins that takes in a walk along the South West coast.

Cornwall has many other links to Arthurian legend. At Slaughterbridge, an inscribed stone is said to mark the spot where King Arthur died fighting his enemy Mordred during the Battle of Camlann.

There is now an Arthurian Centre at Slaughterbridge, a nature trail, gift shop and play castle. And nearby is the ancient town of Camelford, one of a number of ‘real Camelot’ candidates.