Galeway, Galoee, Galvoie, Walweitha, Walweithe

A province of southwest Scotland, which, in Layamon, Arthur pacified in the early days of his reign. Chrétien de Troyes describes it as a “harsh and cruel land, where the people are faithless”. It was guarded by Orguelleuse of the Narrow Passage, who vowed to never let any knight leave the country alive.

Gawaine had a number of adventures in the land, most notably at the palace called Canguin Rock (Wolfram von Eschenbach places this in a fictional land called Terre Marveile).

Malory only mentions Galway as part of a personal name – as, for instance, Sir Galleron of Galway (who, however, is listed among twelve knights), “and all they were of Scotland”, either of Gawaine’s kin or well-wishers to his family. Galleron challenged Gawaine for the ownership of several properties nearby. Gawain’s associations with Galloway in these romances may preserve some memory of a legend in which Gawaine was its ruler, a notion that appears in William of Malmesbury. In Escanor it is ruled by Count Brandis. There was strong connection between Ireland and Scotland in the early days.

The last Arthurian adventures Chrétien de Troyes wrote take place in the marches of Galloway. Just over the Galloway border lies the city, which may be the Guiromelant’s Orqueneseles, to which the Haughty Maid of Logres sends knights for her palfrey.

Also near the border – unsure on which side – we find Ygerne’s (Igraine) Rock of Canguin. A note of D.D.R. Owen’s remarks that in Chrétien’s time Galloway had a regretable reputation, and that four mss, include a couplet describing it as an evil land with perverse people. I cannot see that the perversity of its population in general is borne out by Gawaine’s adventures, nor that the unpleasant individuals whom he encounters near Galloway are any worse than villains elsewhere.