Section of South Cadbury Castle hillfort, looking south.
South Cadbury Castle often is associated with Camelot, the supposed site of King Arthur’s castle, and recent evidence points to famine having struck the area in the early 6th century.
According to Arch News:
Excavations have shown that the site was indeed strengthened in the period formally known as the Dark Ages, at the time of the legendary Arthur. However, there is one question that remains an enigma – why was the site abandoned?
There is no archaeological evidence that shows there was destruction or an invasion at the site of South Cadbury at the beginning of the sixth century ~ it simply went out of use. Its abandonment is perplexing for it was strengthened and inhabited in the fifth century as evidenced by the pottery shards, but by the early sixth century it was uninhabited.
South Cadbury has undergone some extensive excavations, especially by Alcock (1965-1970), who tells us: “On the basis of archaeological evidence ~ and there is no other ~ the Cadbury II occupation had come to an end before 600 AD."
The Dark Ages is a part of English history where little is known except for constant raids from the continent by Germanic and other peoples trying to claim land following the withdrawal of the Romans. but the evidence for this area is lacking. With no evidence of fighting and the Wessex advance placed at a later date, it would appear that there is no other logical explanation as to the abandonment of these major sites.
Famine may be plausible and would certainly explain the abandonment of a site, or several, where no military action or raiding is visible in the archaeological record. It certainly would explain why people just moved away from an area and left no trace, according to Arch News.
Click here for the complete Arch News article.