The Survey of Cornwall [Excerpt]

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The Survey of Cornwall [Excerpt]

by: Richard Carew (Author)
from: The Survey of Cornwall (120v - 121v)  1602

...Not farre from thence, Tintogel, more famous for his antiquitie, then regardable for his present estate, abbutteth likewise on the sea; yet the ruines argue it, to have beene once, no unworthie dwelling for the Cornish princes. The cyment wherewith the stones were layd, resisteth the fretting furie of the weather, better than themselves. Halfe the buildings were raysed on the continent, and the other halfe on an Iland, continued together (within mens remembrance) by a drawebridge, but now divorced, by the downefalne steepe Cliffes, on the farther side, which, though it shut out the sea from his wonted recourse, hath yet more strengthened the late Iland: for, in passing thither, you must first descend with a dangerous declyning, and then make a worse ascent, by a path, as everie where narrow, so in many places, through his sticklenesse occasioning, and through his steepnesse threatning, the ruine of your life, with the failing of your foote. At the top, two, or three terrifying steps, give you entrance to the hill, which supplieth pasture for sheepe, and conyes: Upon the same, I saw, a decayed Chappell, a faire spring of water, a Cave, reaching once, by my guides report, some farre way under ground, and (which you will perhaps suspect of untruth) an Hermites grave, hewen out in the rocke, and serving each bodies proportion for a buriall. But, if that in Wales carrie an equall veritie, the myracle will soon reape credite: for this is so sloped inwards at both ends that any tall stature shall find roome by a little bending, as the short in the bottome by extending.

The fardest poynt of this hill, is called Black head, well knowne to the coasting Mariners. The high cliffs are by sea unaccessible round abouts, saving in one only place, towards the East, where they proffer an uneasie landing place for boats, which being fenced with a garretted wall, admitteth entrance thorow a gate, sometimes of yron, as the name yet continuing, expresseth, and is within presently commaunded by a hardly clymed hill. Under the Iland runnes a cave, thorow which you may row at ful sea, but not without a kinde of horrour, at the uncouthnesse of the place. M. Camden delivereth us these verses out of an olde Poet, touching Tintogel.

Est locus Abrini sinnoso littore ponti,
Rupe situs media, refluus quem circuit astus.
Fulminat hic late, turrito vertice Castrum,
Nomine Tindagium, veteres dixere Corini.

                Which import in English:
There is a place within the winding shore of Severne sea,
On mids of rock, about whose foote,
        The tydes turne-keeping play:
A towry-topped Castle heere, wide blazeth over all,
Which Corineus auncient broode,
         Tindagel Castle call.

It is not layd up amongst the least vaunts of this Castle, that our victorious Arthur was here begotten by the valiant Uter Pendragon, upon the fayre Igerna, and that without taynt of bastardy, sayth Merlyn, because her husband dyed some houres before.

Of later times, Tintogel hath kept long silence in our stories, untill H. the 3. raigne, at which time (by Mat. Paris report) his brother, Earle Ri. grew into obloquy for privy receyving there, & abetting, his nephew David, against the King. After which, being turned from a Palace to a prison, it restrained one John Northamptons libertie, who for abusing the same, in his unruly Maioralty of Londo, was condemned hither, as a perpetuall Penitenciary. A fee of ancienty belonging to this Castle, was cancelled as unnecessary, by the late L. Treasurer Burleigh.

One collecting the wonders of Cornwall, rimed touching this, as followeth:

Tintogel in his ruines vauntes,
        Sometimes the seate of Kings,
And place which worthy Arthur bred,
        Whose prayse the Breton sings,
A bridge these buildings ioynd, whom now
        The fallen clifs divorce,
Yet strength'ned so, the more it scornes
        Foes vayne attempting force.
There, cave above, entrie admits,
        But thorowfare denies;
Where that beneath alloweth both,
        In safe, but gastly wise.
A Spring there wets his head, his foote
        A gate of Iron gardes:
There measure due to eche ones length,
        The Hermits grave awards.