Merlins Cave, Tintagel
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Merlin's Cave is situated beneath dramatic and historic Tintagel Castle, a site of legend, romance and history, on the North Cornwall coast. It ilies around 3 miles (5 kilometres) to the south-west of the picturesque village of Boscastle.
The cave on Tintagel Beach, which has an atmosphere all of its own, is 330 feet (100 metres) in length and passes completely through Tintagel Island from Tinagel Haven on the east to West Cove on the west. It is a sea cave formed by marine erosion along a thrust plane between slate and volcanic rock.
The lower part of the steps which lead down to the cave have been washed away by the action of the sea, so visitors now have to scramble down some boulders to reach the beach. Merlin's Cave ave fills with water at high tide, but has a sandy floor and is explorable at low tide.
Local legend states that Merlin lived in a cave below the castle of Tintagel while King Arthur is claimed to have grown up. In one version of the legend, Arthur was found by Merlin washed ashore in a cave below the castle.
The legendary King Arthur was reputed to have been born at Tintagel. Geoffrey of Monmouth first relates this legend in his 'History of the Kings of Britain' written in 1139.
There is however, no evidence to either prove or disprove this story. There was a monastic settlement here in the fifth or sixth century, possibly the stronghold of a Celtic king. A finding during an 1998 excavation increased the possibility of a connection with King Arthur, a slate measuring 20 by 30 cm was unearthed, with the inscription ARTOGNOV, the Latin version of the British name Arthnou. It dates from the sixth century.
The poet Tennyson immortalized Merlin's Cave in his 'Idylls of the King', describing the waves bringing the infant Arthur to the shore and Merlin carrying him to the safety of the castle above. Swinburne, Hardy and Turner were also inspired to produce works by this outstanding location.
To the north of the beach is Pentargon Waterfall which falls from the stream running down the valley.