English Heritage

£5m English Heritage project sees Tintagel Castle ‘made whole again’ after 500 years

Article: David Styles | Image: © Jim Holden

The installation of a footbridge by English Heritage has for the first time in over 500 years connected the two halves of Tintagel Castle – having previously been separated by a 190 foot gorge.

Kate Mavor, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said Tintagel Castle has “been made whole again” by the project, which received half of its £5 million funding from Julia and Hans Rausing. This is the largest single private donation ever received by the conservation charity.

One thousand members of the public also donated to the bridge, each of whom were welcomed to mark their £5 contribution by signing one of the Cornish slates which make up bridge’s walkway.

The bridge connects the two, previously separated, parts of the castle © Justin Minns

“As a charity,” Mayor stated, “English Heritage’s core purpose is to care for historic sites like Tintagel Castle and to inspire people to visit them. Our new Tintagel bridge does both – protecting the castle’s archaeology and bringing its story to life in a brilliant, imaginative way.”

Having had a tempestuous history through the centuries, the crossing has now been updated with a cantilevered footbridge built in Plymouth and designed by engineers Ney & Partner and William Matthews Associates Architectural Practice. A unique design feature of the bridge is a narrow gap of around four centimetres at its midpoint, representing the transition between the mainland and the island; the present and the past; the history and the legend.

The symbolic gap incorporated within the footbridge's design © Jim Holden

Around a quarter of a million visitors make the trip to Tintagel Castle every year, and it is hoped the new addition will enable those exploring the site to encounter less congestion and maximise accessibility by providing a step-free  route onto the island.

The bridge is part of a larger £5 million English Heritage programme at the castle, including improvements to footpaths around the site; a decision made in order to limit the impact of footfall on the castle’s archaeology and ecology.

The bridge is made using traditional Cornish slate © Jim Holden

Timed ticketing, too, has been introduced to the site. This measure has been taken to better manage the number of people visiting the historic site at peak times. Tickets can be pre-booked through the English Heritage website, with a limited number of on-the-day tickets still available to purchase upon arrival at Tintagel Castle.