Cadbury has been associated with
Arthur since at least the sixteenth century, when the distinguished
antiquarian John Leland described it in his
account of ancient British history. He wrote:
'At the very south end of the church of South-Cadbyri standeth Camallate,
sometime a famous town or castle... The people can tell nothing there
but that they have heard say Arthur much resorted to Camalat... '
Camallate or Camalat is, of course, Camelot, the famed citadel of
Arthur where the Round Table was housed and from where the Fellowship
of Knights rode forth in search of adventure and wrongs to right.
|Trees now cloak
the sides of Cadbury Camp, yet its imposing bank-and-ditch ramparts
would have been a formidable obstacle.
Whether the association of Cadbury is a genuine one has been hotly
disputed for a number of years. There are those who think that Leland
invented the connection from the close-lying place-names of Queen
Camel and West Camel; others would have us believe the identification
a true one. Certainly, the archaeological investigation which took
place there in the 1960's indicated that the hill, which is really
an Iron-Age camp, was re-fortified with extensive earth and timber
defences during the crucial period of the sixth century when Arthur
is believed to have flourished. The foundations of an extensive timbered
hall, and what appears to be the beginnings of an unfurnished church,
add further to the speculation, as does the closeness of the site
to Glastonbury Tor.
A causeway, known as King Arthur's Hunting Track,
links the two sites, and a plethora of local legends support the Arthurian
connection. As late as the nineteenth century, when a group of Victorian
'archaeologists' came to investigate the stories clustering about
the hill, a local man asked if they had 'come to dig up the king'.
Folklore still retains a memory of Arthur and his knights sleeping
under the hill. It is said that if one leaves a silver coin with one's
horse on Midsummer's Eve, the horse will be found to be re-shod in