Merlin's Cave

Tintagel Caves

Useful Information

Tintagel Castle and the cave below.
Location: 5km South West of Boscastle, Cornwall. Tintagel Head, 800 m walk from the town Tintagel. Steep track down to the sea.
Open: caves: no restrictions
castle: Apr-Sep daily 10-18, Oct daily 10-17, Nov-Mar daily 10-16.
Fee: caves: none
castle: Adults GBP 2.90, Concessions GBP 2.40, Children GBP 1.50.
Classification: sea caves.
Light: none, not necessary but usefull.
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: Amy Hale, Alanm. Kent, Tim Saunders (): Inside Merlin's Cave,
Address: Tintangel Visitor's Centre, Tintagel, Tel: +44-1840-779034
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1930s extensive excavations by Radford.


View from Tintagel Castle to the next head to the north.

Tintagel Castle is, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain, written 1139, the birthplace of King Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon and Queen Igraine. But this is just legend. There is no evidence to either prove or disprove this story.

According to the archaeologists, this place was a Roman settlement and military outpost, most likely called Durocornovium.

There was some kind of monastic settlement here in the 5th or 6th century, maybe the stronghold of a Celtic king. This would seem entirely possible, as the site would have made an impressive fort and would be almost impenetrable to any enemies attempting to storm the headland.

A finding during an 1998 excavation increased the possibility of a connection with King Arthur: a slate of 20 by 30 cm with the inscription ARTOGNOV, the Latin version of the British name Arthnou. Its from the 6th century, which is most likely the time when Arthur lived.

This castle fits the legend very well, because of another fact: Merlin's Cave below the castle. Merlin is said to have lived in a cave below the fortress of Tintagel while King Arthur grew up, to be his teacher. In one version of the legend, Arthur was found by Merlin washed ashore in a cave below the castle.

Below Tintagel Castle a fault or a layer of weaker rocks crosses the Tintagel Head, the castle is built on. It also crosses several other heads to the north and south, as can be seen from the castle. The rocks were eroded by the sea and so several irregular sea caves were formed, all in one row.

Two caves are easy to access from the footpath to Tintagel Castle. Both are high enough to walk through, both are going through the whole head to the other side.

Merlin's Cave Gallery