The Alans were a tribe from the Caucasus and possibly Northern Iran who may have brought the original elements of the Grail mythos to Western Europe. Alanic soldiers fought for the Romans in the later days of the empire and were stationed among other places in Britain and Western France.
It is speculated that many of the West European noble houses were originally of Alanic descent, originally from the 5th century. Also Eleanor of Aquitaine, the sponsor of Chretien de Troyes was probably of Alanic descent, presumably with traditional knowledge of the mythology passed down in the family.
The Alans were accomplished horsemen, generally tall, with red or blond hair. They may have transmitted the elements of the Nart sagas found to this day in Ossetia, in the Caucasus, to Europe. These elements include a cup that will choose the noblest and purest warrior from the feast gathering and offer drink to only him. Also a shirt of golden mail occurs in these sagas. Scott Littleton and Linda Malcor suggest in their book "From Scythia to Camelot" that the Arthurian mythos were actually a cross pollenization of the Nart sagas and West European Celtic myth. The hero Lancelot for example would derive his name from 'Alan of Lot.' The parallels between Arthurian myth and the practices of the Alans are too numerous to list here. The reader is referred to Littleton and Malcor.