Camelot was the most famous castle in the medieval legends of King Arthur, and where, according to legend, he reigned over Briton before the Saxon conquest. At Camelot Arthur established a brilliant court and seated the greatest and most chivalrous warriors in Europe, the Knights of the Round Table. Camelot was the starting point of the Quest for the Holy Grail, and by the 1200's, it came to symbolize the center of the Arthurian world. The oldest known stories of Arthur don't refer to Camelot by name.
Although Camelot is, for most modern readers, the legendary center of King Arthur's realm, many medieval texts have Arthur holding court at Carleon which looks over the Vale of Avalon to Glastonbury. Nearby is the River Cam, and the village of Queen Camel. During the reign of Henry VIII local people speak of the fort as "Camalat" and as the home of Arthur. The mythology of Camelot, and the story of King Arthur has been told and retold over the centuries, hence there are many versions.
The legends of Arthur may have originated with an actual chieftain named Arthur who lived in Wales in the sixth century, but the many retellings have moved the story far away from that place and time. Because of the belief that Arthur will return, he is sometimes called The Once and Future King and Camelot itself has come to not only be viewed as a place, but as a state of mind or a reflection of a lost ideal. Since Camelot is a legendary place, it is perhaps futile to speak of its location. However, John Leland identified it with Cadbury Castle. Excavations carried out at the site in 1966-1970 confirmed that this large hill fort (with 1200 yards of perimeter surrounding an eighteen-acre enclosure and rising about 250 feet above the surrounding countryside) was refortified in the Arthurian era and was occupied by a powerful leader and his followers.
More recently, Camelot has come to be associated with the values of "Camelot" and sometimes believed only to represent an ideal place in time.
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