Cadbury Castle

The convoluted search for Camelot, mythical/historical site of the court of King Arthur, is central to Albion’s mythology. The idea of the Knights of the Round Table, their quest for the Grail and the idea of a ‘once and future king’ is powerful and sustaining to the British character. In 1542 John Leland referred to Cadbury Castle in Somerset as Camelot. Cadbury lies close to the A303, that main route from London to the south-west. Cadbury is actually an Iron Age hill fort and there never was a castle as such there. The hill is the castle and it is impressive with its timeless atmosphere.

Situated on the limestone Cadbury Hill it gives long distance views of the surrounding landscape. Excavations have shown it was in use from Neolithic times (pottery and flints) through the Bronze and Iron ages. It was re-used by Roman forces under Vespasian and was in use after this from 470-580AD which is when conjecture says that an important Brythonic ruler would have used it. There is much evidence of fighting and violence on this site and excavations show there was a ‘Great Hall’ and some small rectangular buildings that appear to have been temples or shrines. Archaeological findings are on display in the Museum of Somerset at Taunton.

Cadbury is visible from Glastonbury Tor and there is an alignment (almost a straight line) of Cadbury-Glastonbury Tor-Brean Down-Dinas Powys that suggests a kind of communication system. Geoffrey Ashe argued in ‘The Quest for Arthur’s Britain’ (Granada 1968), ‘Nowhere else but at Cadbury does Britain supply any archaeological trace of such a person (as Arthur)’ ‘The stories of Arthur are the acts of the Giant Albion.’

(Note: Don’t confuse this site with Cadbury Castle Hill Fort in Devon which is a low hill overlooking the Exe Valley)

Directions: Church Road, South Cadbury, Somerset BA22 7HA

Coordinates: 51° 1′ 26.76″ N2° 31′ 54.48″ W

Photo credit: Tim Heaton, Wiki Media, Creative Commons Licence