NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia


Latin: Gallovidia
Scottish Gaelic: Gall-Ghàidhealaibh
Scots: Gallowa
Galeway, Galoee, Galvoie, Walweitha, Walweithe

Galloway is a historic region located in southwestern Scotland.

Galloway’s location and role can vary in the Arthurian texts, depending on the specific tale and the author’s interpretation. Galloway should not be confused with Galway, which is a county in Ireland.

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 challenged Gawaine for the ownership of several properties nearby. Galleron who, however, is listed among twelve knights, “and all they were of Scotland,” either of Gawaine’s kin or well-wishers to his family. 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.

Galloway | 0 to the 9th century AD

Britons and Early Celtic Influence
During the Roman period, Galloway was inhabited by the Britons, a Celtic-speaking people. The region was part of the larger Kingdom of Strathclyde, which encompassed parts of present-day southern Scotland and northern England.

Galloway was inhabited by various Celtic tribes in the fifth century, and the region likely had connections with both the wider British Isles and neighboring Ireland. It was a distinct and often independent region within the larger territory of Scotland.

Roman Influence and Retreat
Galloway was on the fringes of the Roman Empire’s influence, and while there might have been some Roman interaction with the local population, the region was not directly incorporated into Roman territories.

The Roman Empire’s withdrawal from Britain in the early fifth century marked the beginning of a period of increased political fragmentation. Galloway, like other parts of Scotland, saw the emergence of local rulers and petty kingdoms. The region was influenced by Gaelic-speaking tribes and was often part of larger confederations.

Sub-Roman and Early Medieval Period
Following the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the early fifth century, Galloway, like other parts of the island, experienced a period often referred to as Sub-Roman Britain. Galloway saw the emergence of local rulers and petty kingdoms. The region was influenced by Gaelic-speaking tribes and was often part of larger confederations. The Kingdom of Strathclyde, to which Galloway belonged, continued to be a significant political entity in the post-Roman period.

By the seventh century, the Kingdom of Northumbria, centered in what is now northeastern England, began exerting influence over parts of southern Scotland, including Galloway. This era saw interactions between Anglo-Saxon and native British cultures. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions battles between the Northumbrians and various British kingdoms, including the kingdom of Galloway, in the seventh to eighth centuries. These conflicts were part of the larger political and military struggles in the British Isles during this period.

In the early mid-seventh century, the Kingdom of Rheged emerged as a significant power in the region. It is believed that Galloway was a part of the Kingdom of Rheged, which covered areas in what is now northern England and southern Scotland. The exact extent of Galloway’s involvement with Rheged is debated among historians.

Viking Invasions and Norse Influence
During the Viking Age (eighth to eleventh centuries), Viking invasions and settlements had a profound impact on Galloway. Vikings established a presence in the region, leading to a blend of Celtic and Norse cultural influences. Galloway became part of the Danelaw, the area under Viking control.

The rulers of Galloway during this period included individuals with Norse or mixed Norse-Celtic backgrounds. The political structure may have been influenced by Scandinavian models.

Integration into the Kingdom of Scotland
By the ninth century, Galloway began to experience integration into the emerging Kingdom of Scotland. The process of Scottish influence in Galloway continued over subsequent centuries, leading to the region’s incorporation into the Scottish realm.

See also
Count of Galloway | The Legend of King Arthur
King of Galloway | The Legend of King Arthur

Gesta Regum Anglorum | William of Malmesbury, 1125
Brut | Layamon, late 12th century to mid-13th century
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle | 9th century
Perceval, or Le Conte del Graal | Chrétien de Troyes, late 12th century
Escanor | Girart d’Amiens, c. 1280
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470