British Foklore  
British Folklore  
line decor
line decor

Herne the Hunter is a representation of the Horned God and he is closely associated with Windsor Great Park in Berkshire, UK. He is said to appear at times of national crisis. As an ancient deity he is known by many other names including Cernunnos and he is said to lead a wild hunt, chasing the souls across the sky. Researcher Jon Dathen told in the now out of print book Strange Berkshire of the legend of Herne.

The legend of Herne the Hunter 

Herne was one of the King's huntsmen in the Great Park, a man skilled in woodcraft. One day when he and the King were out hunting a huge stage they were racking turned on the King charging to gore him. Herne bravely stood in its way and saved the King's life, but he was seriously gored himself.

From a beech tree a wizard called Phillip Urwick appeared. He bade the King to strap the dead stag's antlers to Herne's head. The King bound Herne to an oak to support him, and miraculously he survived. The King was forever grateful and Herne became his favourite head huntsman.

Urwick tended Herne back to health in his hut on Bagshot Heath. Two of the other huntsmen became jealous of the King's favourite and some say they framed him for poaching and others say they struck a bargain with Urwick to remove his skill at woodcraft. Whatever the cause, Herne hanged himself in shame from his oak but his spirit was restless - and the wild hunt had begun.

The two treacherous huntsmen were impelled by Urwick to ride with Herne for all eternity and to this day the hunt is seen or heard in Windsor Forest and as far away as Cookham Moor and Huntercombe Manor which gets its name from the hunter.

* Author Angus Macnaghten reports on a sighting, almost certainly of Herne, at Cookham. In his book Haunted Berkshire he tells of a woman's experience on the common at Cookham Dean one summer's evening in the 1920s. She saw the figure of a man wearing antlers coming out of the undergrowth which at that time covered the common. She saw the figure disappear into one of the three oak trees on the common.