Monday 23 July 2018

Writing is on the wall for legendary castle of King Arthur

Site curator Win Scutt with a stone inscribed with rare ancient writing. Photo: PA
Site curator Win Scutt with a stone inscribed with rare ancient writing. Photo: PA

Anita Singh

For centuries, historians have searched for evidence that Tintagel Castle was the birthplace of King Arthur.

Perched on a rocky outcrop on the Cornish coast, the windswept site seemed an unlikely location for a royal court. But the discovery of a 1,300-year-old windowsill has lent credence to the idea that Tintagel was, after all, the home of kings.

The stone has been uncovered at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, supporting theories it was a multicultural royal site. Photo: PA
The stone has been uncovered at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, supporting theories it was a multicultural royal site. Photo: PA

The 2ft-long slate bears a mix of Latin and Greek with Christian symbols, in a decorative script similar to those found in illuminated Gospel manuscripts of the time, showing the writer was familiar with those texts.

English Heritage, which manages Tintagel, said the find "lends weight to the theory that Tintagel was a royal site with a literate Christian culture".

The writing is believed to have been the work of someone practising their handwriting. It includes the Roman and Celtic names "Tito" and "Budic", and the Latin words fili, or son, and viri duo, meaning two men. The Greek letter delta also appears.

The discovery will delight those who believe in the Arthurian legend, although for naysayers it provides no more concrete evidence that Arthur actually existed.

Win Scutt, English Heritage curator, said: "We can't know who made these marks or why, but what we can say is that 7th-century Tintagel had professional scribes, and that in itself is very exciting. We knew that this was a high status site but what we didn't know was the extent of their education."

In 2016, English Heritage was accused of the "Disneyfication" of Tintagel by commissioning a rock carving of Merlin at the mouth of the cave where he is said to have taken an infant Arthur.

Irish Independent

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