The history of Cornwall
From exploring ancient ruins and learning about local myths and legends, to discovering how time has shaped the Cornish landscape, there are plenty of ways to step back in time and find out more about the county’s fascinating past.
Here’s our pick of the top historical attractions in Cornwall.
Tolgus Tin Mill
Tolgus Tin Mill was first established in 1865 and is a wonderful place to explore. The mill’s purpose was to process tin ore recovered from the nearby stream using a series of machines, and, as the only surviving mill of its kind in Cornwall, the site is often regarded as a national treasure. Today you can enjoy a guided tour of the mill, discover more about the historic machinery, and even purchase beautiful Cornish jewellery which has been crafted on site.
Tintagel Castle is a 13th century castle perched high on the North Cornwall coastline. Steeped in romance, drama, and mystery, and positioned in front of a stunning backdrop which could be mistaken for a Mediterranean paradise, the remains and surrounding area of the castle are truly mesmerising. Legend has it that the castle was the exact location where King Arthur was conceived, and the fascinating history of the site is one of the reasons why Tintagel is so popular with visitors.
Cornwall has a rich history of mining and Wheal Coates tin mine opened in 1802 and remained in use until 1889. The site is home to the iconic Towanroath Shaft engine house – a famous landmark which is often featured on local greeting cards, postcards, calendars, and even television programmes. As well as the engine house, there’s an amazing circular walk which takes you along the coastal path, past several viewpoints, and through the ruins of the old tin mine.
Pendennis Castle is one the finest surviving coastal fortresses in England. Built in Tudor times, its purpose was to help locals guard the port and surrounding towns from foreign invaders. Since then, it has played a vital role in several conflicts including World War I and II. From enjoying the coastal views to examining the fascinating collection of cannons and weaponry, there are plenty of things to see and do during your visit.
Bodmin Jail holds the remarkable secrets of the criminal masterminds that once scoured the Cornish landscape. The jail has been of immense significance over the years, providing a safe haven for state papers, the Domesday book, and even the crown jewels during the First World War. Experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the dark, dank cells, see the jail’s famous execution pit, or simply marvel at this historic building’s amazing architecture.
The Minack Theatre
Built 80 years ago by local resident, Rowena Cave, The Minack Theatre was inspired by the architecture of ancient civilisations and was designed to be a place where local drama enthusiasts could perform outdoors. The dramatic cliff top location and sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks below create a fantastic atmosphere, and with a jam-packed schedule of performances throughout the year, it’s the perfect place to enjoy some top-class entertainment and learn more about the area’s charming history.