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10 Historical Locations To Explore In Cornwall

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Cornwall is filled with historical sites to explore and get lost in. From castles, villages to spooky prisons – there’s so many nooks and crannies to discover filled with myths and legends.

Tintagel Castle

Tintagel is bursting with history and still holds its Cornish charm and character to this day. Significant for its trade with the eastern Mediterranean and a location of economic power in Britain. The castle was an incredibly popular inspiration for medieval literature – and became a popular destination for visitors to explore.

In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘History of the Kings of Britain’, he shared that Tintagel was the place King Arthur was “magically conceived”. It is argued that this sparked inspiration of Richard, Earl of Cornwall to build the castle in the 1230s.

Find the remains of the Dark Age settlement, head down to Tintagel beach or cross the dramatic bridge or take a walk on the wild side and admire the dramatic headland in all of its glory.

Minack Theatre

Minack Theatre is a location of magic, entertainment and rich history. It is perched on the rugged cliffs overlooking the breath taking view of the Atlantic Ocean.

You can catch dramas, theatre, musicals and opera throughout the summer. Not only that you can watch comedy and storytelling, creating a magical experience like no other.

Explore this site any time of year, learn about the creator - Rowena Cade and how this outdoor theatre became one of the most famous in the world.

The first performance was in August 1932 with Shakespeare’s 'The Tempest'. Since then amateurs and professional theatre has been alive and thriving – living Rowena’s dream above the waves of the sea.

There’s plenty to do apart from seeing a show, have a picnic on the grass, stroll in the stunning gardens or watch the waves come crashing in.

Bodmin Jail

The Bodmin Jail holds secrets, darkness and once upon a time The Crown Jewels.

Bodmin Jail was originally built for King George III in 1779, built by prisoners. The Jail held state papers during the First World War and the doomsday book. Today you can visit this historical building with its dark cells, barred windows and spooky atmosphere.

Today the owners plan to use the profits from the business to save the Jail from decay. The aim is to revive the roofs, internal structures and cells to give visitors the chance to experience the jail as it once was.

Do you think you can experience a ghost walk in the spooky location of Bodmin Jail?

They have been offering Ghost Walks for seven years, and if you’re 18 or over you’re more than welcome to join Psychic medium and energy therapist Mark Rablin for a night of fright!

Poldark Mine

Described as one of the most historic locations in the annals of Cornish Mining, Poldark Mine offers a mining experience for the whole family.

Take an underground guided tour of this historic location, and learn the story of mining in this part of the world. This world heritage site gives visitors a chance to dive deep into mining history with tours, exhibits and learn about the stories and the working conditions of the tin mine in the 18th and 19th century.

During your visit explore the beautiful gardens within this rural setting, and look out for the rare black swans making a home here.

Mên An Tol

Mên An Tol – meaning ‘holed stone’ situated in Madron, is a megalithic structure in Britain. It has been a significant monument since an early date, it’s purpose however remains unknown.

Walk around this historic site, and view the rare four stones. There is evidence that the monuments have been moved and altered on several occasions.

Many have argued that this site may have been a stone circle, have a ritual significance or the stones were a component of a burial chamber or cist.

Visit this location and make your own mind up of the history of this mysterious site.

St Michael’s Mount

St Michael’s Mount provides a great family day out filled with exploring and learning this island’s rich history.

Explore the island and discover the tales, myths and legends which lie here. From mermaids to the legend that is Jack the Giant Killer – make your way around the island to see if you can find his lost stone heart.

Walk the rooms of the castle, take a step back in time as you come face to face with the servants’ quarter and listen to the island guides about their knowledge and secrets of this magical castle.

Get lost in the castle gardens and look over the castle walls out to the blue sea.   

Carn Brea

Carn Brea overlooks Pool, Redruth and the coastline. Follow the footpath from Churchtown up the hill where you will reach Carn Brea hill.

Stroll around the hilltop, get up and close to the 19th century monument and the enchanting Hillfort Castle.

The castle was once a hunting lodge built by the Basset Family of Tehidy in the 15th century, today it’s a popular restaurant serving middle eastern inspired dishes. On your journey you will find remains of the Iron Age and also Neolithic times scattered across the hill.

The monument was erected in 1836, as a tribute to Lord Francis Basset – a mining entrepreneur and part of the famous Cornish family.

Walk across the hill and gain breath taking views of mining history and look far out to gain sight of the sea.

Jamaica Inn

Jamaica Inn is Cornwall’s most famous smugglers inn, providing a historic atmosphere of mystery and romance upon Bodmin Moor.

Jamaica Inn is popular with locals and visitors for its history. Made famous by Daphne du Maurier’s tale of smugglers, rogues and pirates – the Inn provides a location to step back in time and gain a feel of legend and mystery.

There's also a great restaurant, 20 en-suite bedrooms and a Smugglers’ Museum to get your minds racing. The whole family will love this experience, where everyone can gain an insight into the Inn’s mysterious past.

Fancy a ghost hunt? Jamaica Inn provides ‘paranormal investigations’ during the year. The Inn appeared on Most Haunted, which was said to be one of the spookiest episodes they have ever done!

Carn Euny

This historic site was once occupied from the Iron Age until late Roman times. Visit for an afternoon of exploration, as you come up and close to stone houses. Also explore the ‘Fogou’ which is a cave, structured by excavating rock and then lined and roofed with slabs of stone. It is still unknown the reason for the ‘Fogou’ but explanations include storage or refuge locations.

Imagine what life must have been, the visible remains of the houses can date back from between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD. Today, the village is in poor condition but provides an glimpse into the past worth experiencing.

St Ives Knill Monument

The Knill Monument was built in 1782 by John Knill. The triangular pyramid reaches towards the sky, at 50 feet high.

It’s a great location to visit in spring, climb up the hill and admire the rhododendrons as you pass by and take in the spectacular views reaching across Carbis Bay.

Since John Knill’s death hundreds of people visit the monument every five years to attend a ceremony and ending with the singing of 100th Psalm ‘All people That On Earth Do Dwell’.

What history will you unravel next in Cornwall?

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