Sunday, May 6, 2018

Tintagel Castle and more . . .

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I came across a reference to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, which led me to look into it further. In doing so, I also read of an ongoing debate about an ethical and archaeological dilemma. More of that later. 

Some comments . . . 

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The castle: 

Tintagel Castle is a medieval fortification located on the peninsula of Tintagel Island adjacent to the village of Tintagel, North Cornwall in the United Kingdom. For those, such as myself, who don’t know where Cornwall is in England: 

The site was possibly occupied in the Romano-British period, as an array of artefacts dating to this period have been found on the peninsula. It was settled during the Early Medieval period, when it was probably one of the seasonal residences of the regional king of Dumnonia. A castle was built on the site by Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall in the 13th century, during the Later Medieval period. It later fell into disrepair and ruin. 

The castle has a long association with legends related to King Arthur. This began in the 12th century when Geoffrey of Monmouth described Tintagel as the place of Arthur's conception in his fictionalised account of British history, the Historia Regum Britanniae. Geoffrey told the story that Arthur's father, King Uther Pendragon, was disguised by Merlin's sorcery to look like Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall, the husband of Igraine, Arthur's mother. 

Tintagel Castle has been a tourist destination since the mid-19th century. It is owned by Charles, Prince of Wales, as part of the landholdings of the Duchy of Cornwall. The site is managed by English Heritage. 

Duchy of Cornwall (a duchy is the territory of a duke or duchess). 

Some of the old relics of the Duchy of Cornwall, no, wait, the relic photos are below. This is the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall. 

(The eldest son of the reigning British monarch inherits possession of the duchy and title of Duke of Cornwall at birth or when his parent succeeds to the throne, but may not sell assets for personal benefit. If the monarch has no male children, the rights and responsibilities of the duchy belong to The Crown and there is no duke.)

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Some pics: 

The doorway to Tintagel Island. 

The ruins of the upper mainland courtyards of Tintagel Castle, Cornwall. Part of the village of Tintagel may be seen in the distance. 

Aerial view. 

Proposed Tintagel Castle Footbridge, which has received Planning Consent anmd is expected to be open in 2019.

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The debate: 

In 2016, sculptor Peter Graham carved a depiction of the face of Merlin into the bedrock at the castle with the blessing of English Heritage. It also defended its approval on the grounds that it promoted the links with King Arthur and would increase the numbers of tourists. 

Opponents have referred to it as the Disneyfication of Cornwall, have accused EH of vandalism and of attempting to "dumb down" history. A spokesman for Kernow Matters To Us (KMTU), an organisation dedicated to preserving the integrity of Cornwall's history and culture, said: "This official vandalism has been condemned by people who love Cornwall, both at home and as far away as Australia. This is nothing but 'false' history and diminishes our heritage. It is a disgrace. No doubt it will enhance tourist numbers for a season or two - but at the cost of further denuding the Cornish cultural and historical context of this location." 

The carving is situated at the entrance to a rocky inlet known for generations as Merlin's Cave, and is supposedly the setting for a story in which the wizard carries an infant Arthur to a place of safety. Graham spent three months carrying out the work. He said: "Usually you would choose the perfect stone from a quarry, but here I have worked into the rock of Tintagel's landscape. Merlin has emerged organically out of that rock - and to see him now is really rather satisfying." 

The carving is part of a project designed to "bring the legends and history of Tintagel to life", according to EH. Further sculptures and installations have been commissioned. 

Peter Graham carving Merlin. 

The face of Merlin amid the bedrock below Tintagel Castle 

The sculpture, with the footbridge visible above. 

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To add fuel to the debate, a statue of King Arthur has been secretly helicoptered in and installed. Named “Gallos”, it is a tall ghostly bronze figure that is only partially rendered, the landscape being visible through the gaps . . . 

Gallos with sculptor with Rubin Eynon 

Matt Ward, English Heritage property manager at Tintagel Castle, with Gallos, the new eight-foot high bronze statue created by artist Rubin Eynon and placed on Tintagel Island. 

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I have my own ideas on the above but I will leave it to you, readers, to decide what your feelings are on the issue. I must say, however, that the Merlin sculpture looks a lot like Thor . . . 

. . . and that Gallos looks like a Jedi . . . 

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