According to the Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal and Estoire del Saint Graal, this biblical King of Israel learned that Galahad – the end of his lineage – would surpass all others in prowess and piety. Solomon, at the urging of his wife, decided to construct a magnificent ship in order to let Galahad know that his coming had been foretold. He bedecked the ship in all manner of splendor, placing within it a bed adorned with spindles from the Tree of Life in Eden. He also placed the sword of his father, King David, within the ship; this sword later became known as the Sword with the Strange Hangings and could only be wielded by the best knight in the world.
Upon completion of the vessel, an inscription appeared on its hull warning the unfaithful from boarding. Solomon, afraid, did not board, and the ship sailed out to sea. Mordrains and Nascien encountered it during their adventures, as did a number of other men, many of whom were punished for drawing the sword.
During the Grail Quest, Galahad, Perceval, Bors, and Perceval’s sister encountered the ship and boarded it. The ship eventually took the three Grail knights, with the Grail, to the ancient city of Sarras.
Analogs to the Ship of Solomon are known in early Celtic mythology. One is also found in the non-Arthurian lay of Guigemar.
Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal | 1215-1230
Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal | 1220-1235
Post-Vulgate Queste del Saint Graal | 1230-1240
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470