5 Cornish Myths and Legends you need to explore

Cornwall is simply rife with myths and legends, some more believable than others. Either way the Cornish people have lots of fun telling the great and grim tales of times gone by.

Could King Arthur have been handed Excalibur by a mythical Lady of the Lake? Is there a beast roaming across Bodmin Moor? Did giants really build mountains in the Duchy? The best part is that you get to be the judge, and have a lot of fun learning and exploring these places along the way.

Here are our favourite five…

King Arthur’s Castle
Tintagel

Many people claim that the legendary King Arthur was conceived at Tintagel castle. The story goes that during a war with the Duke of Cornwall, Arthur’s father, Uther Pendragon, summoned the Wizard Merlin to change his appearance to resemble that of the Duke to allow him entry into the Tintagel fortress. While there he fell in love with Igraine, the Duke’s wife, and so King Arthur was conceived.

The legend continues as it is claimed that Dozmary Pool (located on Bodmin Moor) is home to a Lady of the Lake. It was here that the King Arthur rowed out to the middle of the bottomless pool and was handed the sword, Excalibur, by the mysterious lady.

The Doom Bar
River Camel

The Doom Bar is a sandbar located at the mouth of the estuary of the River Camel. According to Cornish folklore, a mermaid created the bar as a dying curse after being shot by a local man.

Many ships have been wrecked on the Doom Bar, and the difficulty getting into the port did much to damage the prosperity of Padstow.

The Doom Bar has accounted for more than 600 beachings, capsizes and wrecks since records began early in the nineteenth century; and although measures have been put into place to make the passage safer, deaths have occurred on the bar as recently as 1997.

The Hurlers
Bodmin Moor

The Hurlers is a group of three Neolithic or early Bronze Age stone circles set upon the eastern flank of Bodmin Moor.

The name originates from the legend that a group of men were hurling on the moors on a Sunday, and as punishment they were petrified and forced to stand on the moors for eternity.

The Beast of Bodmin
Bodmin Moor

It would be rude to talk about myths without giving a nod to the Beast of Bodmin Moor. Since 1978 many alleged sightings of a panther-like cat on the moors, along with reports of slain livestock, have given rise to rumours of a beast.

Although there has been no confirmed evidence to suggest the beast exists, many people believe that when animal trainer Mary Chipperfield closed her zoo in 1978 she released three pumas into the wild and they still roam the moors to this day.

Cormoran the Giant
St Michael’s Mount

St Michael’s Mount was said to have been built as a home by the giant Cormoran and his wife. Cormoran was not a gentle giant, however, and rumour has it he would force his wife to carry the heaviest boulders within her apron after quarrying the granite to build their home.

Cormoran was eventually killed by Jack the Giant Slayer after Jack dug a deep pit in the mount, disguised it with sticks and blew a horn to wake up the giant. Cormoran fell into the pit and was beheaded by the Giant Slayer and his axe.