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Historic Cornwall: Castles, Witches, Mines and Museums

St Mawes Castle sits at the side of the River Fal, opposite the twin castle of Pendennis at Falmouth. Both date from the time of King Henry VIII.
Cornwall has a rather unique history. Evidence shows the Romans did not travel much further west than Exeter, leaving Cornwall with its own unique tribal history.

Cornwall’s Castles

Some of Cornwall’s oldest sites are the many castles around its shores. Tintagel is probably best known for the legends surrounding it as the birthplace of King Arthur. Explore the ruined remains of this ancient settlement, which may once have been the home of the regional king of Dumnonia. Other Cornish castles include Launceston Castle, Pendennis Castle, Trematon Castle and Restormel Castle at Fowey.

Cornwall’s Museums

The main museum in Cornwall is the Royal Cornwall Museum which is located in the county seat of Truro. It has an unbelievably wide and eclectic array of objects, donated by local benefactors over the years. The museum has an excellent collection of decorative arts and Old Masters, thanks to Alfred de Pass who left them as a legacy to Cornwall.

Another generous gift was a collection of minerals by Philip Rashleigh of Menabilly. It includes a large gold nugget unearthed at Perranarworthal and the largest specimen of bright blue-green liroconite in the world. From Egyptian mummies to Greek and Roman relics, you will be pleasantly surprised at what is on display at this free museum.

Charleston Shipwreck and Heritage Centre is in the delightful setting of old Charleston Harbour. It is often used as a film location for period dramas and the 1858 square rigger the Maria Asumpta is often moored here. This lovely museum is packed with maritime artifacts recovered from the sea and some incredible stories of shipwrecks and rescues along this treacherous coastline.

Boscastle is home to the Museum of Witchcraft with a collection of witchcraft-related exhibits from maze stones to antler tines, said to have been used to cast sea spells. It will certainly bring you out the goosebumps!

Other Historic Attractions in Cornwall

Flambards‘ reconstruction of a Victorian Village is a great way to see 50 life-size shops, homes and traders set out on cobbled streets. The rides thrill younger visitors and the award-winning gardens show Cornwall at its most colourful.

For a real Cornish experience, take a guided tour down Geevor Tin Mine in Penzance. Walk through the tunnels chiseled out by hand in the 18th century in search of tin.

The National Maritime Museum in Falmouth truly excels itself with galleries of boats and lighthouses which all have incredible stories to tell. The underwater viewing room, boat restoration projects and collection of curiosities brought back by sailors give a very three dimensional view of maritime history. To add to the fun you can even arrive by boat when you use the Park and Float service from Ponsharden on the outskirts of Falmouth!

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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