Castle Neroche in Somerset is the site of an iron age fort, now heavily wooded, it occupies a prime position on a steep scarp of the Blackdown Hills.
Although no structures remain, the steep earth ramparts clearly show where the hill fort and the later Norman castle once stood.
Local rumour has it that the hill is hollow and a huge dragon slumbers there for most of the year guarding its vast store of treasure. It accumulated the treasure by attacking unlucky travelers on the road and stealing their treasure although some say that it is faerie treasure that the dragon guards.
It crawls out from his lair at certain times of the year to fly to the nearby Cadbury Hill.
This is also a hill fort, formerly known as Camelet and which has been associated with King Arthur.
He is said to sleep beneath the hill waiting for the moment when the country is in its darkest hour and he will ride forth with his knights to come to our aid.
Another legend associated with this hill is that a store of faerie treasure is hidden deep within the hill, if you dig for it the gold will sink so far into the earth so that you will never reach it.
The treasure on Neroche has never been found although several attempts have been made. The first, documented by the Revd F Warre in the 1750's describes the attempts by a number of men to dig into the hill. In some accounts they actually uncovered a huge chest of gold but as they attempted to pull it free from the dirt it slowly slid back into the hole. The deep sides of the pit they had dug began to collapse almost trapping the men. But they did not escape the Dragon's curse that easily, from then on all suffered bad luck.
Another attempt was made in the 1800's; as they dug the men began to hear strange noises coming from deep within the earth beneath their feet. Whispers filled the air around them. Overhead a sudden violent storm broke. The men's nerves gave way and they fled. But they too did not escape the wrath of the Dragon. All died within the month of a mysterious illness.
But that's enough of the folklore, here are a few facts about the site...
The Iron Age site was converted into a Norman military outpost for the suppression of the south west rebellion in 1067-9 ( Anglo Saxon resistance to Norman rule) when it was heavily upgraded to a motte and bailey fortification.
It was under the command of Robert Count of Mortain, brother to William I ( the conqueror)
It was only occupied for a few decades after that before being abandoned.
During the 'Anarchy,' a civil war in England and Normandy 1135-1153, it was briefly reoccupied.
This is the period in our history when there was a succession dispute between King Stephen 1135-54
The origin of the name Neroche dates from before the Norman occupation as it is derived
from the old English words nierra and rechich (Rache) which is a breed of dog used in the Middle Ages for hunting. So it is 'The camp where the hunting dogs were kept' giving it's alternative name of Castle Rache.
and watch for the blooper at the end!