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Tintagel Castle is falling into the sea due to coastal erosion

Cornwall Live logo Cornwall Live 23/09/2022 Tess de la Mare, PA & Edward Church

A beloved Cornish landmark is at risk of falling into the ocean due to climate change, a heritage body has said. Tintagel Castle is perhaps best known due to its ties to the myth of King Arthur.

It attracts thousands of tourists a year, and remains a go-to for visitors coming to the county. Sitting quite literally on a cliff edge, however, the castle is at risk of tumbling into the sea.

English Heritage, which oversees sites like Tintagel Castle, has said coastal erosion poses a threat to the site. The organisation said the amount of land lost to this over the last few years has been "alarming" and pointed to rising sea levels as evidence that the loss of land will not slow down any time soon.

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Rob Woodside, director of estates at English Heritage, said: “Erosion along England’s coastline is nothing new but the rate of land loss that we have seen over the past few years is alarming, and some scenarios indicate that sea levels could increase by up to a metre by the end of the century.”

“To give this some context, last century sea levels rose by 14cm along the southern coast of England. Climate change is accelerating the issues faced by our coastal heritage and creating huge challenges for organisations like English Heritage seeking to protect it.”

English Heritage has, as a result, launched a crowdfunding campaign to save the castle and fund repairs to the damaged cliffs.

Mr Woodside added: “Rising sea levels and more regular storms pose a real risk to the future of many of our sites.”

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King Charles (then Duke of Cornwall) and Camilla during a visit to Tintagel Castle while on a three-day visit to Cornwall. © Geoff Caddick/PA Wire King Charles (then Duke of Cornwall) and Camilla during a visit to Tintagel Castle while on a three-day visit to Cornwall.

The site of Tintagel has been inhabited since the late Roman period, but it was not until the 12th century when chronicler Geoffrey of Monmoth claimed it was where King Arthur was conceived. His mythological account of the history of the kings of Britain, Historia Regum Britanniae, cemented Tintagel’s place in the national imagination.

It is thought this new-found celebrity inspired Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to start building a castle there in the 1230s. English Heritage said the site has always battled with erosion, with parts of the castle already falling into the sea by the 14th century.

The fundraiser, which you can find here, aims to raise £40,000 to repair damage which is already visible to visitors. An area by the entrance has already been lost which has affected the viewing area and coast path.

Tintagel Castle isn't the only place at risk. The Garrison Walls, on St Mary's on the Isles of Scilly, are also at risk. The walls, which were built to strengthen the island’s defences after the attempted invasion by the Spanish Armada, have “pinch points” which take the full force of the tide and make them vulnerable to erosion.

Sites across the country, including a Tudor castle in Cumbria, another in Devon and an 18th century fortress in Hampshire are also at risk to coastal erosion.

Mr Woodside said: “Hundreds of heritage sites in the UK and around the world are increasingly at risk.

“If these coastal properties are to survive the coming decades, we will need to strengthen their walls and build sea defences to protect them. It is for this reason that we are launching a public appeal to raise funds for this vital conservation work.”

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