Cadbury Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Cadbury Castle

Cadbury Castle is the site of a Bronze and Iron Age hillfort in the civil parish of South Cadbury in Somerset.

Lucy Davidson

06 May 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Cadbury Castle

A military stronghold for 4,000 years, Cadbury Castle is the site of a Bronze and Iron Age hillfort in the civil parish of South Cadbury in Somerset.

As a scheduled monument, it has been associated with King Arthur‘s legendary court at Camelot.

Excavations at the site have revealed artefacts from human occupation and use from the Neolithic through to the Bronze and Iron ages.

History of Cadbury Castle

Cadbury Castle was formerly known as Camalet. It is made up of 18 acres of plateau surrounded by ramparts on the surrounding slopes of the limestone Cadbury Hill.

The reason for the emergence of hillforts has been debated. It may be that military sites were constructed in response to invasion from continental Europe. The prevailing view is that they were built in response to increasing social change and population growth and the subsequent pressure on agriculture, iron ore, tin, and copper that followed.

The earliest settlement of the site is represented by pits and holes dated with Neolithic pottery and flints. The site was also occupied regularly from the late Bronze Age onwards.

Finds have included the first Bronze Age shield from an excavation on northwest Europe, which dates to at most the 10th century BC, as well as high-quality non-British ware for wine or oil which was imported from the eastern Mediterranean.

Human occupation continued throughout the Iron Age, with excavations revealing round and rectangular house foundations, metalworking, and a possible sequence of small rectangular temples or shrines.

During the first century BC, additional lines of bank and ditch were constructed which turned it into a multivallate hillfort, or castle. Excavations on the site which have uncovered weaponry and evidence of destruction by fire reveal that the castle was violently conquered on a number of occasions.

Extensive archaeological excavation reveals that finds from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age represent one of the deepest and most complex Iron Age stratigraphic sequences excavated in southern Britain.

After the withdrawal of Roman occupation, the site was occupied by Britons and refortified. It was used as a temporary Saxon mint, and some small-scale fortification of the site may have also occurred in the 13th century.

Cadbury Castle Today

Today, visitors can enjoy walking around the ramparts of Cadbury Castle, with views towards Glastonbury Tor being a scenic accompaniment to the historical site.

Many of Cadbury Castle’s finds are displayed in the Museum of Somerset and Taunton.

Getting to Cadbury Castle

From the centre of Taunton, the castle is a 52 minute drive via the A303 road, and there is parking around the site. There are a number of connecting buses and trains which depart regularly and take around 2-2.5 hours to get to the castle.

 

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