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Camelot


The place name 'Camelot' does not occur in early versions of the story of Arthur. However, Geoffrey of Monmouth (1133AD) tells how Arthur held court at 'The City Of The Legions' and leaves us in little doubt that this was Caerleon. Certainly Caerleon would have been a most impressive location for Arthur to hold court for important rulers, with its splendid roman remains. Equally, we can be sure that only a professional army could defend the Roman fortress ruins. If Caerleon was more than just a meeting place for Arthur we must look to the surrounding hill tops for the location of his 'castle'.  Sure enough such a site exists less than a mile North of the village - a fortification known as 'Belinstocke'.

Caxton, in his preface to one of the first printed books (Le Morte d'Arthur), refers to Camelot being in Wales and describes the ruins of a city which sounds very much like Caerleon, "in Camelot, the great stones and the marvellous works of iron lying underground, and the royal vaults which many now living have seen." The author of this book (Mallory 1485) however locates Camelot at Winchester. He does though make many references to Caerleon, including stating that this is where Arthur's coronation took place.

Cadbury Castle in Somerset has long been associated with the legend of Arthur and there are good reasons for supposing that this could be the location of Camelot. Coins minted on the site in the eleventh century are marked 'CADANBYRIC' which does sound much like 'Cadbury'. Excavations by Leslie Alcock revealed that the ancient site was massively refortified around the year 500AD by a leader of great wealth and power - Arthur maybe?

  
Above, Cadbury Castle from the South;
Right, reconstruction of the South West Gate.
From leaflet by South Somerset Leisure and Recreation Department.
Acknowledgements: R. Dunning, Mr & Mrs Montgomery & Anne Williams.

Many sites around the country have been linked with Camelot. Maybe we're not unbiased, but we place Caerleon as NUMBER ONE contender and Cadbury in second place... See our pages about Belinstocke or Lodge Hill.