Cadbury Castle, Somerset
The Early Medieval Archaeology
Distributed for University of Wales Press
Cadbury Castle, Somerset, is an impressively large hillfort, originally built in the Celtic Iron Age and briefly overrun by the Roman army in the first century AD. It has the longest record of occupation of any hillfort in Britain, for its defences were repaired in two later periods. The first of these periods, the late fifth century, has traditionally been associated with the legendary King Arthur, and the second, the eleventh century, is firmly attributed to King Ethelred the Unready.
The rich and complex archaeological evidence for these `Arthurian' and Ethelredan phases was revealed by excavations in 1966-70 under the direction of the author, Leslie Alcock, and is now definitively published here. In the `Arthurian' phase, the scale of the refurbished rampart and its gate tower, the building of a lordly hall and the evidence for importation of Mediterranean wine all reveal that Cadbury Castle was a major seat of power and provide testimony to the emergence of kingship in Britain out of the ruins of the Roman political system. In the eleventh century, in the face of great danger from Viking invasion, the Cadbury hilltop was refortified by King Ethelred as a town with a coin-mint. This account of the defensive walls and one of the gates, and of the plan of an unusual church, makes a major contribution to our understanding of the achievements of Ethelred's reign.
Of the book's three sections, Part One and Two provide descriptive accounts of the structural remains and artefacts, while Part Three interprets the findings in their wider historical context. The volume is lavishly illustrated with maps, plans, drawings and photographs.
“ . . . the definitive report on a key site for the archaeology and history of Dark Age Britain and, to a lesser extent, of eleventh-century England.” –English Historical Review