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King Arthur's Britain - A Map
Geoffrey Of Monmouth
Tintagel and Tintagel Castle
The town of Tintagel is spectacularly perched on the north shore of Cornwall, a high cliff top walk west from Boscastle.
Tintagel Castle, the reputed birthplace of King Arthur, is a little way outside the town and sits astride a dramatic headland high above the sea and can only be reached on foot by crossing a narrow ridge from the mainland involving several steep climbs up and down steps cut from the rock. This gives Tintagel Castle one of the best natural defences of any English castle.
Far beneath the Tintagel headland is a tiny, rocky cove with a small beach, many fallen rocks and the mysterious Merlin's cave. The beach can be accessed by way of a series of steep steps cut out of the cliff face. Note the picture of Merlin's Cave below taken from the castle looking down on the cove. Click on the image to see the full detail of the photograph; note the people dressed in red to fully appreciate the epic scale of this scene.
The Myth of King Arthur's Parentage
Duke Gorles of Tintagel lived at the castle and one day brought his young wife, Igraine, to the court of Uther Pendragon who was at that time the King of Britain. Duke Gorles had his wife perform for Uther and the other guests at the court. It is told that Uther was so enamoured that he fell deeply in love with her beauty and there and then determined to have Igraine for his own. Uther was so smitten during Igraine's performance that his desires were obvious to all and Gorles, noticing the attention paid by the King to his wife, stormed out of court in a jealous rage, returning to Cerniw. When Uther summoned Gorles back to court, Gorles refused to return. Infuriated by this dissent Uther quickly invaded Duke Gorles' lands.
Igraine was hidden away in the impregnable Tintagel, while Gorles himself defended the nearby stronghold of Dimilioc. Uther was acommpanied by his magician, Merlin, and convinced the wizard to turn him into the likeness of Gorles. Diguised in this way, he slipped into the otherwise impregnable Tintagel Castle, accompanied by Merlin, and proceeded to seduce Igraine. That night, their son, the future King Arthur was conceived. Gorles was killed the next day and Uther and Igraine quickly became husband and wife.