South Cadbury Environs Project

The South Cadbury Excavations

Cadbury Castle , Somerset (ST 628 252), is a multivallate hillfort enclosing approximately 8ha (20 acres) with an inner bank length of around 1.2km (three quarters of a mile). Its four massive ramparts and ditches are breached by entrances from the north-east, east and south-west.

Interest in Cadbury stretches back into antiquarian times mainly because of its traditional association with the legendary King Arthur, both John Leland and William Camden writing in the 16th century emphasise this link. After a series of antiquarian investigations at the site it was the excavations by Leslie Alcock between 1966 and 1973 that provided the evidence for todayís understanding of the site with activity starting in the Neolithic, intensifying through the first millennium BC and continuing into the post-Roman period. He established one of the largest and most complete ceramic sequences for the Late Bronze Age/pre-Roman Iron Age in Britain (Alcock 1972; 1980), simplified by Woodward (Barrett et al. 2000) as:

Early Cadbury: c1,000-300BC, occupation from the LBA, building of the first ramparts.

Middle Cadbury: 300BC-AD40/50, main hillfort occupation, addition of the outer ramparts, SW entrance.

Late Cadbury: AD40/50-400, much reduced activity, possible Roman attack, Roman barracks.

Additionally, there was important evidence of post-Roman/Early medieval occupation on the hilltop (Alcock 1995). A detailed account of the later prehistoric and Romano-British archaeology is to be found in Barrett et al. (2000), although ongoing research into the archive by Clare Randall and Sue Jones is necessitating further revisions. There has been further re-interpretation in the light of evidence from SCEPís fieldwork (Tabor 2008).

Figure showing Alcock's work on Cadbury Castle 1966-70

Alcock's work on Cadbury Castle 1966-70

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