Did Camelot Really Exist?


The earliest documents about King Arthur do not contain information regarding Camelot. The place isn’t mentioned at all until the 12th century, when a French poet named Chretien de Troyes mentioned it in one of his poems about Lancelot, one of the Knights of the Round Table in the Arthurian legend.

Later, in 1485, it’s mentioned in the tale by Sir Thomas Malory “Le Morte D’Arthur” that the round table is located in the great hall at Winchester.

There has also been speculation that the word Camelot comes from the Latin word “Camulodunum”. According to Roman sources, Camulodunum is the oldest settlement in England. This settlement became a large fort when Roman legions invaded England. It was located in what is now called Essex. Prior to Roman invasion, it was the home of many Celtic tribes. Another interesting theory is that the name Camelot comes from the River Camel in Cornwall.

The best evidence comes from a man named John Leland traveled around England collecting information about England’s history. In 1542, he wrote about a “town or castle” called Camallate that sat on a hill south of South Cadbury Church. The nearby villagers told him that Arthur used to visit this “Camallate”. “At the top of the hill, there is a great area of 20 acres, wherein diverse places foundations of walls can still be seen. There was a lot of blue stone which the people of the village have used again and taken away.”

Could the remains of this supposed castle be that of the Camelot mentioned in Arthurian legends? Whatever the case may be, the area Leland spoke about, is located in modern day Somerset.

It’s also possible that Camelot never existed at all, although trying to pinpoint the exact place wherein its origins are based is pretty fascinating. In the end, Camelot joins Avalon and Lyonesse as other long lost places from Arthurian legends.