Gawaine, arriving at the Green Chapel, exactly one day after New Year. He found it an ancient, hollow barrow or cave, overgrown with clumps of grass, in a steep, craggy valley, considered the possibility that a fiend used it for his devilish devotions - an understandable enough impression, since Gawain had come here in midwinter to undergo his stroke in the beheading game with the Green Knight, Bertilak, at Camelot. Gawain searched long for the location, and finally met the Green Knight on the settled day. There, the Green Knight spared Gawain’s life and revealed his true identity.
Helen Hill Miller puts the Green Chapel below Leek Moor, in northern Staffordshire, where the Black Brook and the Dane River converge. Glennie provides an alternative location, placing the Green Chapel on the southern bank of Solway Firth, at about the tip of the small peninsula north of Abbey Holme. I much prefer Miller's identification.
A knight of King Arthur's court who was the son of Sir Ironside.
A land terrorized by a diseased monster who had to bathe in a vat of blood each week. The creature slew a good portion of the Green Meadow’s population before Daniel of the Blossoming Valley, one of Arthur’s knights, overcame the monster’s spells and beheaded him, thus rescuing his friend, the Count of the Bright Fountain.
Bois Verdoyant, Busco Verdulant
Sir Gawayne and the Greene Knight
The title character of the classic Middle English poem Sir Gawayne and the Greene Knight (fourteenth century).
The Green Knight showed up at King Arthur’s court during the New Year’s feast and presented a Beheading Game challenge to the knights present: any knight would be allowed to take a swing at the Green Knight with an axe while the Green Knight stood perfectly still and offered no defense. In return, that warrior would have to stand still before the Green Knight one year later while the Green Knight took a swing at him.
None of Arthur’s warriors rose to the challenge. Arthur was about to do it himself when Gawain stepped forward and took the axe. Confident that the Green Knight would not survive the blow - and would thus be unavailable for the second part of the challenge - Gawain swung the axe and chopped off the Green Knight’s head. The Green Knight, however, calmly picked up his head, mounted his horse, and told Gawain to meet him in a year and a day in the Green Chapel.
As the next New Year’s approached, Gawain set off to find the Green Chapel, much to the distress of his comrades who expected never to see him again. He lodged for Christmas with a lord who had a castle called Hutton near the Green Chapel. When the lord offered him lodging, the two knights agreed that for the three days that Gawain was there, each knight would give to the other whatever he had obtained that day. On the first day, the lord went out hunting while Gawain hung around the castle. While the lord was gone, his wife tried to bed Gawain, but succeeded in only getting a kiss. When the lord returned, he presented Gawain with a freshly killed deer; true to his word, Gawain gave to the lord the kiss he had received from the lord’s wife. The second day went much the same, Gawain received a brace of kisses which were also passed on. On the third day, the lord’s wife gave up on trying to seduce Gawain, and presented him with her girdle, which she said would protect him. When the lord came home, Gawain gave him the kiss but kept the girdle.
The next day, Gawain left the lord's residence for the Green Chapel. He met the Green Knight there and prepared to receive his blows, kneeling. The Green knight gave him two feinted blows and lightly nicked his neck on the third one. The Green Knight then revealed himself to be Gawain’s host: the lord of the castle Hutton, named Bertilak of the High Desert. He explained that the two feinted blows were for the days that Gawain faithfully turned over the kisses, and the nick was for not turning over the girdle. The Green Knight then told Gawain that he had been sent to Arthur’s court by Morgan le Fay - whose enchantments had spared Bertilak’s life after the decapitation - as a ploy to distress Guinevere. Gawain returned to Camelot, where he was honored for his adventure.
The tale bears a striking resemblance to an Irish narrative in which Cú Roí takes the part of the Green Knight and Cú Chulainn that of Gawaine. The Green Knight may have been the Green Man, a wild man featured on inn signboards whose effigy was carried in civic processions.
A later poem known as The Grene Knight offers a similar story, but changes the Green Knight’s true name to Bredbeddle.