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Original Article:

plymouthherald.co.uk

By Keith Rossiter

Photos: Emily Whitfield-Wicks

King Arthur and his knights may – or may not – have lived at Tintagel.

But archaeologists have uncovered evidence that whoever occupied the legendary castle on the North Cornwall coast did live like a king.

Excavations have revealed that the inhabitants feasted on a diet of oysters, roast pork and fine wine, dining and drinking from bowls imported from Turkey and glass goblets from Spain.

As archaeologists returned to Tintagel to continue their investigations today, English Heritage revealed the finds uncovered in last year’s dig by the Cornwall Archaeological Unit.

Part of a glass cup c550AD Photograph by Emily Whitfield-Wicks.

The 2016 work was the first research excavation at Tintagel Castle in decades, and unearthed a feast of historical finds from the centuries that have been called “Cornwall’s First Golden Age”.

During this period, Tintagel was almost certainly a royal site with trading links reaching from the Celtic Sea to the eastern Mediterranean.

The excavation also uncovered a selection of stone-walled structures on the southern terrace of Tintagel Castle’s island area, with substantial stone walls and slate floors, accessed by a flight of slate steps.

Significant finds included a section of a fine Phocaean red slipped ware bowl from Turkey, imported wares and amphorae thought to be from southern Turkey or Cyprus and fine glassware from Spain.

Archaeologists also found evidence which suggests that those living at Tintagel at the time were enjoying a rich diet, as shown by pig, cow and sheep or goat bones with signs of burning and butchering, oyster shells and a cod cranial bone, the first evidence of deep sea fishing at Tintagel.

 Win Scutt from English Heritage said: “These finds reveal a fascinating insight into the lives of those at Tintagel Castle more than 1,000 years ago.

“It is easy to assume that the fall of the Roman Empire threw Britain into obscurity, but here on this dramatic Cornish clifftop they built substantial stone buildings, used fine table wares from Turkey, drank from decorated Spanish glassware and feasted on pork, fish and oysters.

“They were clearly making use of products like wine and oil contained in amphorae traded from the eastern Mediterranean.”

Jacky Nowakowski, project director at the archaeological unit, said: “Our plan in 2017 is to open up a much larger area on the southern terrace so that we get a good look at the scale and size of the buildings and find out exactly when they were built and how they were used.

“All indications to date could suggest that they are residential buildings perhaps lived in by important members of the community who lived and traded at Tintagel more than 800 years ago.

“Visitors and those following the project online will be able to see the excavations in action and hear about new discoveries day by day and to share in the excitement of this new research.”

Archaeologists will be on-site until August 11, and the public can see them in action.

Find out more at english-heritage.org.uk/tintagel

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