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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tintagel: King Arthur's Castle

Tintagel was not what I expected at all. I thought that I would see a medieval castle in ruins. It would be a quick 30 minute tour I thought. In the end, we stayed almost 2 hours and felt reluctant to go home... yes, even The Husband felt the same (and he tolerates these castle visits only because he loves me).

The castle was okay. The rest of it was fantastic.

There was quite a bit of a steep downhill walk. Then there were lots of steps to climb. At the top, we saw the Cornish coastline for miles on either side. Craggy cliffs plummeted hundreds of metres into the sea. At their feet, royal blue ocean waves crested with white foam lapped gently. Look carefully and you can almost see waves of Neptune's foals with white manes of foam, frolic shyly at the foot of the imposing cliffs.

The wind blew in from the sea and it was fresh! Fresh! Fresh! It was a delicious wind (like ice crystals on the tongue on a hot day). It flapped around me with gentle cool fingers teasing my every sense. It whispered with many voices, "Wake up and really live life as God meant humans to live it." It was a wind you wanted to breathe in until you burst. You would think that the sea wind would carry the smell of salt. Not this one. We were too high up away from the water. No sea spray could reach us up there. It was just clean pure air that blew in from the ocean.

I felt like if I stayed there forever breathing the pure ocean air, I would never ever fall sick again. 

In that moment, I forgot the castle.

The steps up to the castle. The wooden bridge was once an isthmus in the Dark Ages of Britain during the 5th century. It formed a natural rocky bridge between the 2 cliff tops. In the hundreds of years that followed, the isthmus has eroded away.

On one side of the bridge is The Haven. It is a sheltered cove that has very little wind and wave movement. Notice how large the stones are and that there is very little sand. In the Dark Ages of the 5th century, ships from the Mediterranean docked here.

On the other side of the bridge, there is a sandy beach where a natural spring flows into the sea. Here, there are huge caves and many pebbles. In this cove, the wind is strong and the waves at high tide have eaten away magnificent caverns into the cliff.

One of the huge caverns is called Merlin's cave.

Inside Merlin's cave.

The Cornish coastline for miles and miles.

The calm waters of The Haven where ships used to dock.

This was very exciting! These are the remains of 5th century stone houses built on a terrace on the cliff face. Tintagel Castle stands on a hill that is only accessible by a narrow isthmus. In the Dark Ages, there was violence everywhere in Great Britain. A community of people staked their claim to this high outcrop of land and built their homes here. I can see why. It is very easily defended. The only access is easily guarded. The thing that springs to mind is... what if their children fell over the cliffs?

More 5th century Dark Ages dwellings.

A well. There was also a natural spring that provided fresh water.

The chapel.

Hmmm... I forgot to take pictures of the castle itself. It really isn't even Arthur's castle. It was built in the 13th century for Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, brother of King Henry III. If Arthur Pendragon had really lived, he would have been King in the Dark Ages. I was way more interested in the 5th century archaeological remains because if anything, those would really be from the time of King Arthur (IF he had really lived). 

No one knows if King Arthur was a real King. Some vestige of oral history handed down through the ages must have inspired Geoffrey de Monmouth to pen down the tales of Arthur Pendragon... but no archaeological evidence has been found to categorically prove the existence of such a King.

I believe he existed. Sometimes, you cannot trust Science. Look at what happened to MOE when they over trusted the science of psychometric testing? Every science has its limitations. Only God does not have limitations, and God, he speaks to the heart. My heart tells me that Arthur Pendragon was a real King and he was born in Tintagel.

And his Father probably drugged his Mother with marijuana. His Mother also (as I imagine it) was a single mother who single handedly brought up her son, and made him the man he was to become. Nah! That is what my heart tells me.

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