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A Cornish castle has recreated the legendary crossing of King Arthur’s father

Aug 8, 2019, 10:03 AM
legendary arthur castle...
It's not every day you get to recreate the journey of a legendary king, but visitors to Tintagel Castle will now be able to do exactly that. Photo: David Levene

(CNN) — It’s not every day you get to recreate the journey of a legendary king, but visitors to Tintagel Castle will now be able to do exactly that.

A bridge will open on August 11 at the historic site in north Cornwall, UK, restoring a vertiginous crossing which brings the two halves of the castle together again, according to English Heritage.

Roots in mythology

Tintagel Castle plays a crucial role in the legend of King Arthur, the mythical leader of Camelot.

As the story goes, Merlin, the wizard, transformed Uther Pendragon, King of Britain, to make him look like the Duke of Cornwall, and the King entered the castle to sleep with the Duke’s wife Ygerna, who later gave birth to Arthur.

There is some debate as to whether King Arthur was a purely mythological figure, or if he was inspired by one or various historical leaders.

Some historians believe the story of Arthur may have been inspired by an amalgamation of figures, including Ambrosius Aurelianus, who led the Romano-British against the invading Saxons.

A legendary castle

While no one knows for sure, the story made a big impression on Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who built Tintagel Castle in the 1230s and 1240s.

arthur castle legendary

The castle is allegedly the birthplace of the legendary King Arthur. Photo: David Levene

At that time the castle was reached via a narrow strip of land that ran from the gatehouse, on the mainland, over to the headland where the fortification sits.

Over time the land bridge eroded and disappeared in the 15th or 16th century.

As a result, modern-day visitors have been forced to climb 148 narrow steps to reach the castle.

Now a steel, slate and oak bridge brings the castle back within easy reach of the mainland, and a distinctive design feature makes for a hair-raising experience.

Suspended 57 meters above the sea, the bridge consists of two 33 meter cantilevers with a 40mm gap between them — narrow enough to step over with ease, but enough to get your pulse racing if you’re scared of heights.

Reuniting history at Tintagel

“Tintagel Castle has been made whole again,” said Kate Mavor, English Heritage chief executive, in a statement.

“Once more, people will cross from one side of the castle to the other and their footsteps will echo those from hundreds of years ago.”

With some 250,000 visitors traveling to the castle each year, the new bridge will ease congestion and make the experience more accessible.

English Heritage spent £5 million ($6.08 million) on the bridge and other works at the castle.

The organization cares for more than 400 historic sites in England, including Stonehenge.

It also allocates commemorative blue plaques that dot buildings in London, marking locations where notable individuals lived or worked.

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A Cornish castle has recreated the legendary crossing of King Arthur’s father