The Legend of Tristan and Isolde
Dating from the 12th century this tragic romance has influenced literature and folklore ever since, including the tale of Lancelot and Guinevere. There are many versions, but here is ours...
Long ago, a swallow brought to King Mark of Cornwall a single hair of shining gold.
King Mark asked his nephew Tristan to find the woman with this golden hair so that he might make her his Queen.
After a long and arduous search, Tristan ended up in Ireland where he managed to slay the dragon that terrorised the country. He was, however, badly wounded and was taken in by the princess, Isolde - the very woman for whom he had been searching for his uncle King Mark.
Tristan took her back to Cornwall and, because she was not terribly keen, her mother prepared a love potion so that she would fall in love with the King and make her new life easier.
On the journey, however, Tristan and Isolde drank this potion and fell madly in love!
The pair remained infatuated even after Isolde married King Mark,and their adultery was discovered by nobles who wished to cause trouble. They presented evidence of the adultery to the King, who vowed to have vengeance.
To escape the assassins sent by the King, the two lovers had to hide in the Forest of Morrois. They lived there for three years until they were finally tracked down and pardoned by the King.
Tristan then returned Isolde to her rightful husband.
But of course, the story doesn't end there!
Tristan fled Brittany and married another Isolde, but would never touch her.
Years later, he was fatally wounded by a poisoned dart and knew the only one who could save him would be his true love, Isolde. He asked his brother-in-law Kahedin to fetch her. It was agreed that Kahedin's boat would show white sails if he succeeded, black sails if he failed to bring Isolde.
As the boat drew near, Tristan asked his new wife the colour of the sails and, desperate with jealousy she told him the sails were black.
Tristan died, broken-hearted. Isolde had indeed returned to him but found him too late and died herself, overwhelmed by grief.
They were buried together and over their graves grew two a grapevine and a rose tree, planted by King Mark; the plants were forever inextricably intertwined, proving that their love surpassed even their deaths.