NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia

Dolorous Tower

La Bele Garde, La Bele Prise, La Dolereuse Tor, La Dolerouse Tor
Chastel de la Tor Perrine(?)

The castle inhabited by the evil giant Caradoc (Carados). In one of the earliest stories of Guinevere’s abduction (found on the Modena Archivolt), it was ruled by Mardoc, who had Caradoc kidnap Guinevere. The castle could be entered only by two bridges, which were guarded by the warriors Burmalt and Caradoc. Gawain managed to penetrate the fortress and rescue the Queen.

In later stories, the Dolorous Tower belongs wholly to Caradoc, Guinevere’s abduction is removed, Caradoc kidnaps many good knights and imprisons them in his squalid, rodent-infested jail. Lancelot becomes Caradoc’s killer. After Lancelot killed Carados, this castle was renamed La Bele Garde (Bellegarde) or La Bele Prise, and apparently Sir Melians li Gai (Melian the Gay) and his bride (who had been imprisoned there) became its lord and lady. Malory mentions it as the home of Sir Selyses (Celises).

I do not think this Sir Carados is to be identified with King Carados of Scotland (Caradoc Shortarm?), nor the Dolorous Tower with Dolorous Garde. Sir Carados and Sir Turquine were brothers, so their holdings reasonably might have been close together. Phyllis Ann Karr have some scanty evidence that Turquine’s Hill may have been in the southwest, in the region of the South Marches. Carados might have been a spiritual ancestor of the outlaw Doones of Devonshire. A possible identification for the Dolorous Tower is Trematon Castle.

[A] place wherein the former Earles and the outer chiefe gouernors of Cornwall made their abodes ... howsoeuer ... if falleth daylie to ruyne and decaye: The inner buyldinges are fallen downe, only some ragged walls remayne; and in the base courte some Lodginges doe stande, and the Prison.

Tremanton is near Saltash, where the Tamar flows into the sea on the south coast, near the present-day border between Cornwall and Devon.

This castle might be identical with Chastel de la Tor Perrine, which later was renamed la Dolereuse Tor.

The Modena Archivolt (Italian sculpture) | 1120-1140
Vulgate Lancelot | 1215-1230
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470