Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Tarn Wadling, Tarn Wathelyne, Wathelan

A lake in Inglewood Forest, which formerly existed under High Hesket (Cumbria), ten miles south of Carlisle.

It is the setting for the Middle English poem The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne. While Arthur and his retinue were hunting in the forest, Gawain stayed behind to watch over Guinevere. As they rested in the forest, the sky grew dark, and a spirit – that of Guinevere’s mother – appeared.

The spirit lamented her own fate: she had been beautiful, powerful, and rich while alive, but in death she was confined to hell where she was chased and beaten by fiends. She warned Guinevere to be kind and generous to the poor, for only by giving money to the poor and having the poor pray for their souls may the rich achieve heaven. She also warned Guinevere against adultery, perhaps alluding to Guinevere’s affair with Lancelot. She prophesied the downfall of Arthur and the Round Table, the betrayal of Mordred, and the death of Gawain. The ghost then departed and Guinevere and Gawain retired to Rondoles Hall. Later, Guinevere bade the bishops of Britain to pray for her mother’s soul.

Arthur is captured by the Grim Baron of Castle Hewin (Gromer Somer Joure) with a great club, near the lake in the ballad “The Marriage of Sir Gawaine,” and must ransom his life by agreeing to return in a year with the answer to the question of what women desire most. It is also the setting for the action in The Avowing of King Arthur.

The Avowing of King Arthur, Sir Gawain, Sir Kay, and Baldwin of Britain | Late 13th century or early 14th century
The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyn | Late 14th century
”The Marriage of Sir Gawain” | 15th century