Tintagel has always puzzled me but, having now visited it three times, I think I'm beginning to get it. The trouble is, when I hear the word 'Castle', I think of a single integrated set of buildings enclosed within some sort of outer defence.
Tintagel Castle is not like that: There's one bit on the mainland and another on the island (well Ok, 'peninsular') and only connection between them is the the very thin isthmus of land that connects the headland to the rest of Cornwall.
Eighteenth century antiquarians used to speculate that the neck of land was once much wider, wide enough to build one huge integrated castle. Whilst the sea has certainly taken it's toll over the ages, current thinking is that the two halves were always separate. And that's the clue.
The Northern Ruins
A fire in the mid-eighties led to considerable erosion of the top soil, exposing the foundations of numerous small buildings on the island. Thus we can see the island half of the castle for what it was, a grand castellated house surrounded by it's village. A village that is in turn defended by the landward half of the castle, in effect a huge fortified gatehouse.
So there we have it; not one castle but two, with very different purposes.
For opening times etc. please go to the English Heritage web site below.
Sad to report the lawyers have got to the site. All round the edge of the cliffs are little signs saying 'Danger Cliffs'.
Part of me wishes that someday someone will sue them for injuries caused by tripping over a sign that they did not see because they were busy looking at the view. But, on the other-hand, I would not wish that on anybody.
Can't be long before all our cliffs are fenced off, and all our lakes are surrounded by signs such as the one at Blessington.