Roche Rock features in Tristan and Isolde legends. Variations on stories centred on the doomed love of Tristan and Isolde, one of the most famous subjects of the medieval romancers who created the epics of King Arthur literature. Tristan was King Mark's nephew who accidentally shared a love potion with King Mark's intended queen Isolde, resulting in Tristan and Isolde falling hopelessly in love. Thereafter, their lives involved in a series of furtive trysts, while they sought to escape the traps laid for them by the suspicious Mark.
Roche Rock is one of a number of sites around Cornwall that are linked with the lovers. Roche Rock is a massive outcrop of granite near Bugle in Cornwall, on which is perched the remains of a fifteenth-century chapel. Today a dangerous winding track over broken rocks leads up to the remains of the tiny chapel at Roche Rock.
It is thought that Roche Rock may have been the site of the hermit Ogrin's chapel, where the lovers found refuge while trying to escape from King Mark. The medieval poet Beroul, who wrote one of the earliest versions of the story, has a description of Ogrin's chapel which bear a strong resemblance to Roche Rock.
A later version of the story tells of Tristan's escape from Mark's soldiers by jumping from the window down on to some perilous rocks. Chapel Point, overlooking the sea near Mevagissey, is the supposed site of 'Tristan's Leap', but Roche Rock is also a contender, where local story-tellers could have preserved the tale and might well have come to the attention of one of the authors of the early Tristan story.
Roche Rock is certainly an unusual location.
Cornwall sites with King Arthur connections