Cadbury Castle

Has been described as a Possible Urban Defence, and also as a Possible Uncertain

There are earthwork remains

NameCadbury Castle
Alternative NamesCadebi; Cadanbyrig; castri de Cadebir; Camalet; Camelot; Camallate
Historic CountrySomerset
Modern AuthoritySomerset
1974 AuthoritySomerset
Civil ParishSouth Cadbury

Ancient site use dating back to the Neolithic. Revived as fortress town by Ethelred II in 1009 but shortlived and abandoned in reign of Cnut. In July 1209, 40 marks were paid out of King John's household to Peter Descudamore and Godfrey of St Martin "towards the works of the Castle of Cadbury". No other reference to the Castle is known, but as Peter and Godfrey appear to have been connected with the SW counties it was presumably either Cadbury in Devonshire or one of the two (?four) places of the name in Somerset. King writes that site lost and possible not even in Somerset. This site has been thoroughly excavated but post-Conquest medieval finds do not seem to be reported. Uncertain if this is because such finds do not exist in significant amounts or because the report of them is lost from summary reports available. However it seems unlikely that there was significant post-Conquest occupation although some use of such a good defensive site, adjacent to the main medieval road (now the A303), during the actual Conquest of Somerset in 1067 must be a possibility, although Stuart Prior, who's PhD thesis was on this topic, does not mention Cadbury.

Gatehouse Comments

One alternative site for the 1209 'castle' worthy of consideration, although it is rarely given such, is Cadbury Heath near Bristol where there was a royal forest and a hunting lodge within this forest may have been what was being built, particularly given King John's noted attraction to hunting.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceST628251
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  • Barrett, J., Freeman, P., Woodward, A., 2000, Cadbury Castle Somerset: The later prehistoric and early historic archaeology (English Heritage) Download via ADS
  • Dunning, Robert, 1995, Somerset Castles (Somerset Books) p. 24-6
  • Alcock, Leslie, 1995, Cadbury Castle, Somerset: the early medieval archaeology
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 445, 559
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 126-7
  • Alcock, Leslie, 1972, 'By South Cadbury is that Camelot ...': The excavation of Cadbury Castle 1966-1970 (London: Thames and Hudson)
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 583
  • Bothamley, 1911, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Somerset Vol. 2 p. 484
  • There is a considerable larger bibliography of the site in regard to its Iron Age and early medieval history and archaeology.


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 416-17
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 151 online copy


  • 2011, 'Did Famine Destroy 'Camelot'?' HeritageDaily online copy
  • Evans, Dai Morgan, 2006, '"King Arthur" and Cadbury Castle, Somerset' Antiquaries Journal Vol. 86 p. 227-53
  • Alcock, Leslie, 1980, Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies Vol. 28 p. 656-718
  • Radford, C.A.R., 1970, 'The later pre-Conquest boroughs and their defences' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 14 p. 96 download copy
  • (Alcock), 1969, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 13 p. 239 online copy
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)

Primary Sources

  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1844, Rotuli de Liberate ac de Misis et Praestitis, regnante Johanne (Record Commission) p. 120-1 online copy


  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk South West Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 201 online copy
  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk South West Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 201 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 212 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 201 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 209 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 190 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 South West (London: English Heritage) p. 186 online copy (new entry)
  • Davey, John Edward, 2004, The Roman to medieval transition in the environs of South Cadbury Castle, Somerset (PhD thesis University of Bristol) (available via EThOS)