Forrester Roberts
Home · Arthur · Brittany · Cathars · About · Links

Tristan and Iseult


“Now Listen, all you Lords and Ladies...

to a tale of such love and anguish that your hearts will be wrung with sorrow... for this is the tale of Tristan of Lyonesse and the one whose flawless beauty was destined to run like some drug through his veins right until the hour of his death, even though he fled across the seas and sought forgetfulness in battle. For know you, that such longing is not the child of chance, but is born of the heart's search for its own reflection and having once found it, the memory of the heart is long”.

Tristan and Iseult book cover

The Legend of Tristan & Iseult
view larger version

The ancient tale of Tristan and Iseult is one of the greatest love stories of the western world and there is a considerable amount of evidence to show that genuine 6th century characters lie at the root of the legend. Of course, the story has been embellished by countless tellers over hundreds of years, but that is no reason to dismiss the intensity of the passions involved. That King Mark Cunomorus of Cornwall and Dumnomia was a man of dark and jealous rages is born out by plenty of other legends associated with his name, such as his beheading of his own son St.Tremeur at Carhaix in Brittany.

Iseult too is remembered along the river Liffey in Ireland. In Anglo-Saxon and in Cornish, her name becomes Eselt, which means ‘she who is worth looking at’. One can imagine that the bearer of such a name would be subject to many passionate overtures from would-be lovers at the court of King Mark and the consequent violent wrath of her husband.

Roche Rock

Roche Rock & Chapel

Tristan was said to come from fabled Lyonesse, a land that sank beneath the waves long ago. This too is dismissed as the stuff of legend, but we can still see ‘Tristan’s Island’ (‘Insula Trestanni’) on the Brittany Coast, once part of the ancient kingdom of Leon and hard by the legendary city of Ys that was also submerged by the sea.

However, it is not necessary to follow the romance like a mean-minded ticket collector, demanding historical authority before you are allowed to enjoy the ride.


This is a most wonderful story set in lovely surroundings and if you embark on the Tristan journey simply for its passion, its poetry and its glorious scenery, it is you who will reap the richer reward.

The book ‘The Legend of Tristan & Iseult - The Tale and the Trail through Ireland, Cornwall and Brittany’ is available.

Order here

Contents     ·      Contact Details     ·      e-mail
© Copyright Forrester Roberts 2003     ·      site design: beyond the north wind