Camelot is the legendary center of King Arthur's realm. Camelot is first mentioned in Chrétien de Troyes's Lancelot; and the name does not even appear in all manuscripts of that poem. Camelot is a dream city, a Utopia, King Arthur's personal capital where he dispenses justice, hosts feasts, and surrounds himself with brave knights. Camelot has come to be associated more with the values Camelot is believed to have represented than an actual place. If King Arthur did exist, his stronghold, his Camelot, would not have resembled a many spired palace, it would have been more basic and the inhabitants would have survived under near constant warfare.
The name Camelot is of unknown origin. It may have taken from the Roman Camulodunum, which means "Fort of Camulos," an ancient British war-god. Camulodunum was a town in Essex, which doen't seem a likely source for the legend.
In the thirteenth-century Vulgate Cycle, Camelot is given as the principal city of Arthur's kingdom.
Malory identifies Camelot with Winchester.
John Leland identifies as being Cadbury Castle in his work of 1542 as the "real" Camelot. Cadbury was the head quarters for a 5th century king. Its west country location gives it credibility as the original Camelot. Excavations carried out a there between 1966 and 1970 confirmed that this large hill fort was refortified in the King Arthur era and was occupied by a powerful leader and his followers. More recently, largely through the influence of T. H. White.
Tennyson's description in the "The Lady of Shalott" as "many-tower'd Camelot." is much more complex.
Sites that claim to be Camelot include Cadbury Castle, Castle Killibury, Caerleon, Winchester, the Roman city of Viroconium in Shropshire and Rough Castle, a Roman Fort near Camelon. Other sites have less substantial claims to be Camelot include Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh.