Tintagel - Cornwall, England
Perhaps the most familiar of all the sites associated
with Arthur. Local tradition, founded largely on the writings of Geoffrey
of Monmouth in his twelfth-century History of the Kings of Britain,
claims this is the birthplace of Arthur, from
where Merlin took him to be fostered in secret.
The dramatic ruins of the castle, dating from the twelfth or thirteenth
centuries, are too late to have anything to do with the real Arthur.
None the less, they are responsible for a good deal of romantic inspiration.
The anonymous medieval writer of The Folie Tristan said that the castle
was built by giants and that it used to vanish twice a year - at midwinter
and again at midsummer. Thomas Hardy visited and later drew the castle
from memory, reinstating its medieval might. Sir Arnold Bax (1883-1953)
composed a wonderful tone-poem evoking the majesty and mystery of
the place in 1917; to listen to it is to hear the waves crashing against
the rocks below the castle.
|The first gate into
A much earlier monastic site on the island promontory behind the castle
dates from a time more or less contemporary with Arthur. More recent
discoveries, following excavations in 1994, indicate that it may have
been a Celtic site of some importance. The most recent thinking suggests
that there may well be something in the legends surrounding the place.