It is very odd for me that British people do not like to be identified with mythology and legends and magic, and would prefer facts to fiction. So any references to King Arthur always have some caveat alluding to the fact that its “just” a legend. To me this Mysterious and magical past is to be celebrated. King Arthur is more than a romantic legend, and whether he was real or not, much of him is hidden deep in the British Psyche..maybe too deep for many. Yet you will find all kinds of things about King Arthur popping up here and there, and for me, its what makes Britain more than a little Island in The Atlantic. These were sculptures in a park that I happened by chance to come across in Wales of king Arthur and various other legendary figures near Tintern Abbey.
Being a South African, I have realised that much of my education has been colonial. The stories of Britain are also my own.. the stories of my childhood. And so, of course I went searching for “Camelot” at Tintagel on the north coast of Cornwall. Nobody knows where Camelot is (since it is only a legend), but to get to Tintagel, you have to cross a river called the Camel and past a town called Camelford..it doesnt take much to add lot to Camel. So it is agreed that Tintagel, in Cornwall, is the homeground of King Arthur.
Cornwall is quite different to the rest of England. It is a much more open landscape with smaller trees. There are hundreds of wind generators dotting the countryside. Some of an older design that doesn’t work so well. I assume its because the wind blows a lot here. My OLD friend, Anthony works at the national grid, and his job is to distribute the electricity coming in and he said that when the wind blows, they suddenly have to cope with a huge amount of energy flooding in. However, it is heartening to know that some countries do have both wind farms and solar farms.
I hate tourism, as whole towns find every which way to exploit it. Here Tintagel was no different, charging a fortune just to park..as usual. So with a short time at my disposal with the pay and display meters dotted EVERYWHERE, I walked to “Camelot”. Well the castle viewed from a distance is fairly new and is really just a Hotel cum tourist castle where they have all kinds of touristy things. (Apparently they used the facade for the Dracula movies in 1979 as Dr Sewards asylum)
But I walked on along the path to the real castle..which is not king Arthurs castle but that of an Earl who was taken with the Arthurian legends.
A castle was built on the site by Richard, Earl of Cornwall in the 13th century, during the Later Medieval period, after Cornwall had been subsumed into the kingdom of England. It later fell into disrepair and ruin. The castle has a long association with Arthurian legends. This began in the 12th century when Geoffrey of Monmouth described Tintagel as the place of Arthur’s conception in his “fictionalized” account of British history, the Historia Regum Britanniae. Geoffrey told the story that Arthur’s father King Uther Pendragon was disguised by Merlin’s sorcery to look like Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, the husband of Igraine, Arthur’s mother.
It is owned by Charles, Prince of Wales as part of the landholdings of the Duchy of Cornwall, the site is currently managed by English Heritage. (The people of Cornwall have objected to English heritage taking it over as they are touristifying it more.)
The day was wonderfully clear and the natural landscape was incredible and needed no touristifying. Looking high over a natural harbour with water rushing into Merlins caves. One could see that this could be a place to find safety in a storm.
Legend has it that Joseph of Arimathea, by which the poem hymn of William Blake is an icon of British hymnary: ‘And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England, who donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after Jesus’ crucifixion escaped here with Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail. There are many tin mines in the area, and there was a family connection with Joseph and tin mining. There is a Cornish story how “Joseph of Arimathea came in a boat to Cornwall, and brought the child Jesus with him, and the latter taught him how to extract the tin.” This story possibly grew out of the fact that the Jews under the Angevin kings farmed the tin of Cornwall.
There is a bridge that connects the main land to the blip where the castle was built. The bridge is now going to be rebuilt according to some amazing design that has symbolic meaning. Of course they charge you an arm and a leg to go on it. I was happy to see it all from the bridge, as again I had no time to explore, on account of needing to rescue my car from the car park. I felt I got enough of the atmosphere of it. You have to spend a whole day there and bring a picnic.
I went back to south Devon via north Devon, where I had tea at this lovely untouched village, before returning via Dartmoor. That is another story.