Although I’ve been excited for my entire trip, there was one day in particular that I was especially eager for: Saturday, the day I would finally get to visit Tintagel, Arthur’s birthplace. The castle (which is now in ruins) is currently only open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays, so I actually shaped my entire itinerary around getting to the Cornish coast for the weekend.
After meeting Jo, the landlady/bartender at the local pub in Camelford (another supposed location of Camelot that’s about ten minutes from the coast), we knew the best way to get to the ruins: by parking at the top of the Glebe Cliff and walking down. The views were absolutely phenomenal, especially once we reached the castle itself and the sun came out. Since we were right at the sea—Tintagel Castle was built on this little peninsula off the coast of the rest of Tintagel, making it extremely defendable—it was even windier than the previous day, but it was worth it. In addition to being occupied between the 5th and 7th centuries during Arthur’s time, Tintagel had been used as a settlement for thousands of years, so we had the opportunity to see ruins from a variety of time periods.
(This is the view walking to the ruins)
Visiting the castle took our entire morning, but in the afternoon we visited another location that I had also been anticipating: King Arthur’s Great Halls. The Halls were created by Frederick Thomas Glasscock in the early 1930s and are decked out by specially made paintings by William Hatherell depicting scenes in Arthur’s life and 73 stunning glass windows made by Veronica Whall.
Our visits to the Halls began with a narrated light show of King Arthur’s life (based on the L’Morte D’Arthur version) before we were able to go into the Great Hall itself. There were paintings, stained glass windows, and suits of armor everywhere, as well as displays explaining various Arthurian facts. The Halls had their own Round Table, with the names of 12 knights carved into it, and many of the stained glass windows were the shields of various famous (and not-so well known) knights of Camelot.
My favorite part was how each stained glass window had a description, explaining the background information behind the symbol—particularly the histories of various knights. It was great to see the legends all compiled in one place; the Halls were the first and only place I visited to truly go into such detail and depth about the legends. It wasn’t merely a place that had been associated with Arthur, it was dedicated to Arthur and only made possible by Glasscock spending a small fortune.
Saturday also marked the last true ‘Arthurian’ day I would spend in England. Although my dad and I remained in England until Tuesday, the rest of our stops were only distantly associated with Arthur, and were basically just a way of breaking up the return journey to London. We stopped at Bath (a possible location of the Battle of Badon, Arthur’s 12th battle), Avebury Henge (a stone circle), and Marlborough (a supposed location of Merlin’s grave), before returning to London and flying home.