Cadbury Castle, Somerset

Cadbury Castle, Somerset is in South Cadbury, Somerset, Iron Age Hill Forts Somerset.

Cadbury Castle, Somerset [Map] is a Bronze Age and Iron Age Hill Fort.

1723. "Prospect of Camalet Castle" aka Cadbury Castle, Somerset [Map] by William Stukeley (age 35).

Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society Volume 8 Page 66. Cadbury Castle [Map], which I have chosen as a specimen of the first, or purely military type, is thus described in the additions to Camden, published with Gibson’s edition.

Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society Volume 29 Page 111. Cadbury Castle [Map] (so called to distinguish it from the three other Cadbury camps within or near the borders of Somerset) occupies the whole of the top of a steep hill, about 300 feet in height, standing detached as an outpost a little in advance on the north-west of the higher range which stretches from Yeovil to South Cadbury, different parts of which are dis tinguished by the names of Corton Down, Poynington Down, and Holway Hill. Cadbury hill forms a portion of the great outcrop of the inferior oolite resting upon the lias, which comes to the surface below. It commands the basin watered by the affluents of the river Yeo; and was an important link in that chain of strong forts which dominated the Somerset levels from points of vantage at the verge of the high hill-region be hind them, —long ere the dawn of history, the broken coast of a deeply-embayed estuary. The spot is two miles from the nearest point (at Sparkford) of a Roman road wfflich left the "Via ad Axium" at a point somewhat to the east of Maiden Bradley ; went through Stourhead ; passed south-westward, at the distance of a mile or two from Bruton and Castle Cary and then, through Sparkford and Queen’s Camel, to Yeovil. There is no record of any other ancient road in this locality but there must have been vicinal ways, the traces of which have since disappeared. The nearest camps of any note are Hamdon, 11 miles to the south-west, and Castle Orchard, 10 miles to the north-east.

Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society Volume 59 Part 1 Page 39. Afterwards the party, now much increased by the arrival of many visitors, ascended Cadbury Camp [Map] by the best means of approach from the N.E. side. Having assembled on the southern slope just below the highest part of the interior of the Camp, where a fine view of Sutton Montis, Paddock Hill, and the country beyond was obtained, the members listened intently to an interesting address by Mr. H. St. George Gray on the Camp and its immediate surroundings. At the end he described the results of the trial-excavations which he had recently conducted on behalf of the Society, the cost of which had been borne by Mr. A. L. Langman and Mr. Henry Hobhouse, and by small amounts contributed by several mem bers of the Society. The substance of Mr. Gray's remarks, with illustrations, will appear as a paper in Part II of this volume.

Professor Boyd Dawkins and Canon Church made a few remarks at the conclusion, and thanked Mr. Gray for his description of this remarkable fortress. The members having viewed the excavations (the two most important cuttings having been left open and railed round), they walked round the earthworks from S.W. to N.E., stopping at Queen Anne's Wishing Well and King Arthur's Well en route.

Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society Volume 7 Page 57. Of Cadbury Castle [Map], the second remarkable earthwork to which I wish at present to draw your attention, Camden gives the following account. The River Ivell rises in Dorsetshire, and receives a little river, upon which is Camalet, a steep mountain of very difficult ascent, on the top of which are the plain footsteps of a decayed camp, and a triple rampart of earth cast up, including 20 acres (the ground plan says 60 acres and 32 perches). The inhabitants call it Arthur’s Palace, but that it was really a work of the Romans is plain, from Roman coins daily dug up there. What they might call it I am altogether ignorant, unless it be that Caer Calemion, in Nennius’s catalogue, by a trans position of letters from Camelion. Cadbury, the adjoin ing little village, may, by a conjecture probable enough, be thought, that Cathbregion, where Arthur, as Nennius hath it, routed the Saxons in a memorable engagement.” And in the additions to Camden published with Gibson’s edition, I find the following description : “ Leaving the sea coast, our next direction is the river Ivell, near which is Camalet, mentioned by Mr. Camden, as a place of great antiquity. The hill is a mile in compass ; at the top four trenches circling it, and between each of them an earthen wall. On the very top of the hill, is an area of 20 acres or more, where, in several places, as Leland observes, may be seen the foundations of walls, and there was much dusky age ; blue stone which the people of the adjoining villages had in his time carried away besides coins ; Stowe, tells us of a silver horse shoe there digged up in the memory of that and Leland describes it in a kind of ecstasy, “ Grood Lord says he, what deep ditches, what high walls, what precipices are here ; in short, I look upon it as a very great wonder both of art and nature.” How far it may be con sidered a wonder of nature, I cannot say ; but that it is a wonder of primeval art, I think no one who sees it will deny. The high walls and foundations of wall as well as all traces of the internal arrangement of this great military station, have totally disappeared, but the outer fortifications of the hill are in a tolerable state of preservation. What outworks there may have been, cannot now be ascertained, as, with the exception of the traces of some platforms pro bably stations for slingers on the south-side, everything outside the main fortification has been obliterated by mo dern agriculture ; but there are the vast trenches with their earthen walls, on some of which, I thought I could trace the remains of a low breastwork of dry masonry. There are at present three entrances, easily to be made out ; the first, on the East side, is that now used as an approach to the field occupying the area within the fortification, and has been so enlarged and made easy of access, for the con venience of the tenant, as to have entirely lost its ancient character, so much as to render it almost doubtful whether it be original or not ; but, on the whole, I think it probable that there was an entrance at this point. The next is at tlic South East angle of the place, and, having crossed the outer defences, opens into the moat, between the inner agger and the one next to it; the path over the inner agger being steep and narrow, and probably strongly fortified. This opening of the road into the moat, is a feature very commonly to be observed in British fortifications, and seems to have been intended to lead an attacking force to points where they might be overwhelmed from above, and forced down the steep side of the hill by a charge of the troops who occupied the higher ground. This seems to have been the case in this instance, as in many places the top of the second agger is not raised above the level of the moat, through which the road led. At the South West angle is the main entrance, which leads through all the entrenchments, up to the area of the place. There are here evident vestiges of flanking works ; and I think the whole descent was commanded by platforms for slingers. There also appears to have been a smaller opening on the North side, leading through the entrenchments to the spring which supplied the place with water, and is situ ated low down among the fortifications of that side ; but the entrenchment on the North has been so tampered with by modern fences, that I cannot speak positively about it. At the highest point of the ground within the fortifications, there are still vestiges of what may have been the foundations of an interior fortification.