Winning bridge selected for Cornish castle associated with King Arthur


Engineering firm Ney & Partners and architects office William Matthews Associates have been selected to design a bridge for the historic English castle village of Tintagel where, according to legend, King Arthur was conceived.

Located on the Cornish coastline, the £4 million bridge will provide a new pedestrian crossing between Tintagel Castle and the adjacent headland, which once were linked but have separated as a result of erosion.

Brussels-based Ney & Partners and London-based William Matthews propose a slender structure, supported by two cantilevers that together form an arch.

Its decking will be slate, while its structure will be created using steel, including some pre-rusted elements. The aim is create a variety of textures that allows the bridge to sit comfortably in its rugged coastal setting.

Tintagel Castle Bridge by Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates

"We believe the experience of visiting Tintagel Castle is all about discovery and revelation, so it is important to us that our bridge lets the majesty of the site do the talking, that it is not too intrusive," said Laurent Ney, managing director of Ney and Partners.

The castle that stands at Tintagel today was built in the 13th century, but the site has been has been inhabited since at least the late Roman period. In the 12th century, Tintagel was named as the place of conception for King Arthur, the legendary ruler said to have led Britain's defence against Saxon invaders in the late fifth and early sixth centuries.

The new bridge references the site's rich history by combining elements of historic Celtic structures with the design of Tintagel Castle's original drawbridge.

"Just as a good art museum recognises that the art is greater than the building so the new bridge needs to make the visitor's reading of Tintagel – its history and cultural power – as strong as possible," added Ney.

Tintagel Castle Bridge by Ney & Partners and William Matthews Associates

The proposal was selected by a panel of judges led by Allies and Morrison director Graham Morrison, who described it as "a strong and confident concept design with a thoughtful geometry".

It was selected ahead of four other shortlisted teams, including London Eye designer Marks Barfield and Gardens by the Bay architect Wilkinson Eyre.

The team will now work with nonprofit organisation English Heritage to develop the final design.

It will be built 28 metres higher than the existing bridge, to "complement the spectacular landscape and unlock for the visitor the history of the site," according to English Heritage chief executive Kate Mavor.

Other projects spearheaded by English Heritage include the new visitor centre at prehistoric stone circle Stonehenge and a stone cafe in the grounds of 18th century villa Chiswick House.

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  • Dylan Milne

    I don’t understand whatsoever. I don’t understand why a new bridge is needed, I don’t understand why £4 million is needed to be spent on one. It is clear to see from the renders that the bridge will draw attention away from the castle and surrounding landscape and is inappropriate from such a barren and natural setting.

    I myself have been here and I must say that this looks about as “at home” as a glass tower upon the surface of the moon. For me as you can see the question isn’t which bridge but instead why any at all?

    Also I must add that slate is slippery when wet and considering the coastal location and changeable weather I must wonder why this material has been chosen.

    • Ed Hollis

      I too am familiar with the site. Personally, I don’t need the new bridge, but currently access is via an extremely steep set of stairs down and up again. I can understand why a bridge would be desired – it will allow many more people to visit the island. When I’m old and frail, I’ll probably appreciate it!

      Although the bridge may not look ‘at home’, the engineer and architect have strived for a light touch, optimising the silhouette to a minimum. Time will tell how the built form compares to the renders. Hopefully, as I think the renders show, it will add to the landscape rather than detracting.

  • Concerned Citizen

    The centre of the bridge looks like a good jumping-off point.

  • Nicole

    Having been to Tintagel twice it’s a beautiful, mystical, wild place. But the EH visitor experience leaves a lot to be desired. I’m unsure about the bridge, but tend to err on not thinking it’s a great option.