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The Top 5 Historical Sites to Visit in Cornwall

Cornwall offers its visitors an abundance of places to visit. Whether you’re planning to come to Cornwall in rain or shine, summer or winter, there is always something going on. No matter if you’re looking for something to do on your caravan holidays in Cornwall or your tour of the South West, these locations will help you to rediscover Cornwall’s unique history. From castles to mystical glens, these five locations represent some of Cornwall’s unique hotspots, popular tourist attractions and secret treasures.

1.     Tintagel CastleTintagel Castle

Our first choice of location to showcase has to be Tintagel Castle that is located on the north coast of Cornwall. Its fame comes from Arthurian legends as it is rumoured to have been the home of King Arthur himself. Frankie, blogger at Meet Me by the Sea, describes the castle as ‘completely magical’: “The coastline is incredibly dramatic and as you walk across the bridge to the castle, it feels like you’re stepping back in time. Tintagel Castle is steeped in history and makes for a great day out with the family. It’s definitely one to add to the Cornish bucket list!”
Built around the 5th century, this stunning piece of history was used as a stronghold for Cornish rulers. Historians have also discovered that before its disappearance, there was once a bridge linking the two halves together, however, it is said to have disappeared, leaving the castle split into two separate structures.

The main structure can be found on the mainland and the rest of it on the large outcrop of rocks which can be accessed by a set of stairs – until now. In August 2019, a new footbridge was built to finally connect the two structures as English Heritage, the owners of Tintagel Castle, worked hard to recreate the historic crossing. The whole site is completely dog-friendly, meaning all the family can enjoy this day out.

2.  The Merry Maidens Stone Circlemerry maidens

The Merry Maidens Stone Circle is next on our list, as this site dates back to Neolithic times. Made up of 19 stones, the Merry Maidens monolith was a perfectly formed circle until the 19th century when it was restored to reduce the risk of it being lost to field clearance. There are many myths connected the stones including the tale of 19 young girls that were turned to stone because for dancing on the Sabbath. The very name for the stones; Dans Meyn means “dancing stones”. It has also been noted that the stones vary in size deliberately, as according to Cornwall Guide, the stones represent the cycle of the moon with each changing shape from Southwest to Northeast, much like Stonehenge which is rumoured to have been left behind from pagan sun rituals.

There is great accessibility to the site as a car park can be found nearby as well as a bus stop next to the site. Also, the site has no entry fee, so if you’re looking for a day out but you’re on a budget, this location is perfect for you.

3.  St Mawes CastleSt. Mawes Castle

Another English Heritage site that is a must-see is St Mawes Castle. Located on the south coast of Cornwall in Truro St Mawes Castle, offers visitors a chance to look back in time to Henry VIII’s rule. The clover-shaped castle has octagonal defence walls, built to withstand attacks not only from Catholic France and Spain but also from World War II torpedoes! The four-storey fort has been defending Cornwall’s coast throughout history and in the 1940s six powdered guns were built to defend the castle against ships as big as small warships.

Visiting the castle today is fun for all the family, with great views for the adults and fun places to explore for the kids. Entry for English Heritage members is free, however for non-members, it is very reasonable at £6.30 for adults and £3.80 for children, the site offers many deals for family days out and concessions.

One fact that The Cornish Life has on St. Mawes Castle is that it has an outdoor theatre which is also used for wedding venues.

4.  St. Nectan’s Glen and WaterfallsSt Nectan's Glen and waterfalls

St Nectan’s Glen and Waterfalls are situated only a 12-minute drive away from Tintagel Castle, making it a great place to add to a day trip. Named as one of Cornwall’s best-kept secrets by Cornwall Live, this hidden gem is surrounded by beautiful woodlands and mysterious myths of Cornish piskies and fairies inhabiting its mystical waters. The waterfalls themselves have earned the title of ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ due to rare species of plants being discovered at the site. Once there, you can admire the significance of the three waterfalls, the biggest having a massive 60ft drop to which you can borrow a pair of wellies, free of charge, and go walking through the healing waters of St Nectan’s Kieve.

The site is open 7 days a week, all year round with a shop, gallery and meditation room that is well worth trying out. Since 2016, a new walkway has been opened by the owners so that visitors can experience the third waterfall from new angles.

5.  Prussia CoveBessy's cove

Along with Piskies Cove and Bessy’s Cove, Prussia Cove is a great part of Cornwall’s heritage to add to the list of historical locations. Although it is not one of the most accessible sites that we have suggested, there is a coastal footpath that takes you down to the cove from the car park with many walks that vary in length, including Prussia Cove.

Salty Songs says the walk is a great way to explore the South Cornwall coast path: “Perranuthnoe is a wonderful little South Coast village with beautiful walks to the East and West, with the turquoise waters of Prussia Cove within easy reach. This area used to be a famous smuggling location due to the rugged coastline and plentiful coves and caves”.

One of the most famous smugglers was John Carter, known as the King of Prussia after he pretended to be Frederick the Great with his two brothers, Harry and Charles. They were one of the most successful and notorious smugglers from 1777 to 1807.

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are also rope ladders that have been bolted onto the cliff face that will lead you around the bay to Kenneggy Sands beach.

Cornwall is an exceptional place to holiday in the United Kingdom. With so many accessible, dog-friendly and family-orientated places to visit, there is something for all your holiday needs. Check out your nearest holiday park in Cornwall to start your adventure today

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