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The Holy Grail - Grail Castles

Grail Castles

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There are two grail castles, one is on an island and one is on land.



"The castle of the Grail is a Celtic Otherworldly Fortress." - Loomis


"The approach to the Grail Castle usually lies across or beside a river. But there are a number of passages which place the god's abode on an island out in the sea. These localisations seem to have their basis in a powerful British tradition. Plutarch in his DE DEFECTU ORACULORUM, as Rhys indicated (Arthurian Legend, 367.f.) writes: 'Demetrius further said that of the islands around Britain many lie scattered about uninhabited, of which some are named after deities and heroes. He told us also that, being sent by the emperor with the object of reconnoitring and inspecting, he went to the island which lay nearest to those uninhabited and found it occupied by few inhabitants, who were, however, sacrosanct and inviolable in the eyes of the Britons." Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance.

"It is significant that in Arthurian Romance we have two Castles of the Horn, in both of which we may detect castles of the Grail. One is in the 'Vulgate Lancelot', and of it we learn nothing but that Claudas concentrated his army there, and that when he was defeated, it was bestowed on the husband of the Lady of the Lake. According to Malory this was Pelleas." from 'Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance.'

King Pelles' Isle of Joy seems to be specifically a land of women such as that depicted in the Chateau Merveil and in its prototype, the island where the Irish Bran sojourned, and to which he doubtless returned.

But it is equally clear that Pelles' other Castle of Corbenic is situated on the mainland of Logres. According to the testimony of Johannes Cornubiensis, who wrote in the twelfth century there was a castle of Beli in Cornwall. 'The toen (municipium) which in our region is called in English Aschbiri and in British Kair Belli, is the Fatale Castrum.' This Aschbiri Loth has identified with a circular earthwork in the parish of Gweek St.Mary, placed on a hilltop, several miles inland from the Atlantic, and still called Ashbury Camp. It lies in the centre of a region which from early times has been rich in heroic and romantic legend. It commands a magnificent view to the north of Hartland Point, which Ptolemy tantalisingly calls the Headland of Heracles. Beyond, dim across the water, lies Lundy, the island which Rhys conjectured was the place of the mythical captivity of the God Gwair. South-west, about twelve miles away, invisible beyond the rolling moors, lies Tintagel, also a 'Fatale Castrum', for it was called 'chastel fae' on account of the tradition that it vanished from sight twice a year. Here at Ashbury Camp the Cornishmen of the twelfth century placed Kair Belli, the castle of Pelles.

'Johannes Cornubiensis says expressly that Kair Belli is the Fatale Castrum, in other words the Faery Castle or the Castle of the Fays. With this we may equate Kaer Sidi, now Kaer Sidi is one of the names of Annwn, where was kept the cauldron which would not boil the food of a a coward , a prototype of the feeding grail. If we accept the identification of Kair Belli with Kaer Sidi, and remember that Pelles had, as well an inland castle, a castle in the Isle of Joy, we can feel confident of our position. For it can be proved beyond the possibility of rejoinder that Kaer Sidi is identical with an island castle of the Grail described in Perlesvaus.

(quoted from Harrying of Annwn.)

'We have in Kair Side an island castle, four cornered, where are to be found a fountain, a cauldron, a prisoner named Gwair, and a glass tower with a sentry who would not reply to any questions.

'If moreover, Perceval is that Pryderi who rules over the island where Gwair is enchained, then we may add the Ynys Wair or Lundy island to the many other islands off the British coast which had a sacred character and were believed to be the blissful dwelling places of the gods.'

confusion between Fr. horn = li cors & Fr.body =li cors Christianisation replaces horn with body as object of veneration. Also well documented scribal confusion between c and t ie. cors and tors. ie li tors (bull) as object of pagan idol. similarity of li cors to la cors- court. 'We can detect three groups of stories connected, respectively, with three castles: stories of the horn disguised as a body or cors centre about Castle Corbenic, tales of the 'tor' are associated with Chastiel Bran, and Castle Brandigan provides the horn of plenty misunderstood both as a blast horn and as la cors, 'court' .

'Corbenic' is the name of the Grail castle in the Vulgate 'Queste' and the 'Estoire'. 'cor beneit'- 'blessed horn' or from the french 'corbin' - 'crow' or 'raven' 

'In Robert Biket's 'Lai du Cor' a drinking horn is sent to King Arthur by King Mangounz, a figure prob der. from Manawydan brother of Bran and Welsh counterpart of the Irish sea god Manannan. Biket's horn is a cognate of the testing cup in 'Diu Crone' which is sent to Arthur by Priure king of the sea. The related testing horns were also possesions of sea kings.

Priure = Pryderi & Mangounz = Manawydan Both are mentioned in 'Branwen as participants in the Hospitality of the Noble Head (Bran) and they also both appear in the 'Book of Taliesin' as dwellers in Caer Siddi. moreover they both appear in Welsh trad. conn. with a testing vessel. the Cauldron of Britain.

' Grail Castle = Corbenic = Chateau Merveil = Palace Adventurous. The Castle of the Grail is a composits of Celtic conceptions of the dwelling of the Gods.

'Chretien's adventures of Gawain at the Grail Castle =AN Irish visit to the Otherworld = 'The Voyage of Bran'


related pages

The Mabinogion

the Otherworld

The Grail Romances



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