England // Devon and Cornwall //


Despite its romantic name and its famous castle standing aloof on a promontory to the north, the village of TINTAGEL is for the most part a dreary collection of cafés and B&Bs. The wild and unspoiled coast around the village, though, provides an appropriate backdrop for the forsaken ruins of Tintagel Castle. It was the twelfth-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth who first popularized the notion that this was the birthplace of King Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon and Ygrayne, though the visible ruins in fact belong to a Norman stronghold occupied by the earls of Cornwall. After sporadic spurts of rebuilding, the castle was allowed to decay, and most of it had been washed into the sea by the sixteenth century. The remains of a sixth-century Celtic monastery on the headland have provided important insights into how the country’s earliest monastic houses were organized.