Spring of Balanton

Fountain of Balanton, Fountain of Barenton(?)

D.D.R. Owen identifies Barenton as the marvelous spring of Chrétien’s Yvain, and it seems to me unlikely that two different marveolus springs in the same forest would have such similar names; but I do not venture to answer whether it was called either Barenton or Balanton i Chrétien’s day – the only name I find in Owen’s translation of Yvain that might cover the spring and castle thereto pertaining is Landuc – nor do I answer the question whether the Broceliande of Chrétien’s romances is in Britain or Brittany.

Chrétien’s Arthur visits his Breton lands in Erec and Cligés; on the other hand, Ywaine starts from Carlisle in Wales with hopes of reaching Broceliande in two days’ time and, while he may not succeed in this schedule, subsequent events in this romance [part of which runs concurrently with Lancelot’s adventures in Gore] suggests no crossing of waters to and from Brittany.

By Chrétien’s description, the cold spring bubbled or “boiled” up beneath a very fine pine tree. A pure gold basin hung from the pine, and the slab beside the spring was of emerald, bored out like a cask, with four bright rubies underneath it. On the other side of the spring was a small but pretty chapel.

In The Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer observed that Breton peasants resorted in times of drought to a fountain or stream called Barenton. It would hardly have been as expensively decorated as the one Chrétien describes.


See also
Broceliande | The Legend of King Arthur
Esclados | The Legend of King Arthur
Laudine | The Legend of King Arthur
Ywaine | The Legend of King Arthur