Herne the Hunter: Wikis

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Herne with his steed, hounds and owl, observed by the Duke of Richmond and the Earl of Surrey, in Harrison Ainsworth's Windsor Castle, illustrated by George Cruikshank, c.1843.

In English folklore, Herne the Hunter is an equestrian ghost associated with Windsor Forest and Great Park in the English county of Berkshire. His appearance is notable in the fact that he has antlers upon his head.

The first literary mention of Herne is in William Shakespeare's play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, though there are several theories attempting to place the origins of Herne as predating any evidence for him by connecting his appearance to pagan deities or ancient archetypes.

Herne has appeared in various other books, TV series and other media since his first mention by Shakespeare.

Contents

The legend

Herne is said to have been a huntsman in the employ of King Richard II (reigned 1377-1399) in and around Windsor Forest. He saved the King's life when he was attacked by a cornered white hart, but was mortally wounded himself in the process. A local wizard brought him back to health using his magical powers, which entailed tying the dead animal's antlers on Herne's head. In return, however, Herne had to give up his hunting skills. The other king's huntsmen framed him as a thief. As a result he lost the favour of the king. He was found the next day, hanging dead from a lone oak tree. That same oak tree is in the Home Park at Windsor Castle.

The ghost

The earliest written account of Herne comes from Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor in 1597:

Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest,
Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns;
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner.
You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know
The superstitious idle-headed eld
Receiv'd, and did deliver to our age,
This tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.
— William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor

This records several aspects of Herne's ghost which is said to have haunted Windsor Forest (covering all of East Berkshire and parts of south Buckinghamshire, northeast Hampshire and northwest Surrey) and specifically the Great Park ever since his death. Further details have entered local folklore from reported sightings , such as those in the 1920s[1]. He appears antlered, sometimes beneath the tree on which he was hanged, known as "Herne's Oak", but more often riding his horse, accompanied by other wild huntsmen and the captured souls of those he has encountered on his journey. He is thus a phantom of ill omen, particularly for the country and, specifically, the Royal Family. He has a phosphorescent glow and is accompanied by demon hounds, a horned owl and other creatures of the forest.

Herne's Oak

The supposed location of Herne's Oak was, for many years, a matter of local speculation and controversy. Some Ordnance Survey maps show Herne's Oak a little to the north of Frogmore House in the Home Park (adjoining Windsor Great Park). This is generally believed to be the correct site from which the oak of Shakespeare's time was felled in 1796. Queen Victoria, unfortunately, had a replacement planted on a different site. This new tree fell in a gale in 1863 when carved mementoes were made from the timber, including a cabinet for the Queen. The bungle was, however, corrected by her son, King Edward VII, who planted the current Herne's Oak in 1906.[2]

Possible origins

Various theories have been proposed to account for the origin of the character, none of which has been proved conclusive, and the source for many of the tales told of Herne remain unknown.

In his 1929 book The History of the Devil - The Horned God of the West Herne R. Lowe Thompson suggests that "Herne" as well as other Wild Huntsmen in European folklore all derive from the same ancient source, sighting that "Herne" may be a cognate of the name of Gaulish deity Cernunnos in the same way that the English "horn" is a cognate of the Latin "cornu" (see Grimm's Law for more details on this linguistic feature).[3]

Some neo-pagans such as Wiccans consider Herne to be derived from Cernunnos (and connected to the Greco-Roman god Pan)[4]. However Herne is a very localized figure not found outside Berkshire and the regions of the surrounding counties into which Windsor Forest once spread. Conversely, evidence of belief in Cernunnos has been recovered only in the region near what is now Paris and not in Britain at all. [5].

In the Early Middle Ages, Windsor Forest was settled by heathen Angles who worshiped their own pantheon of gods, including Woden, who was depicted as horned [6] [7], rode across the night sky with his own Wild Hunt and hanged himself on an ash tree in order to learn the runic alphabet. The name Herne is not unlikely to be derived from the name Herian [8] a name used for Woden as leader of the slain (Old Norse "Einherjar") and of the Wild Hunt.[9] [10][11][12] Another Wild Hunt-associated folkloric figure, King Herla, started as the Old English Herla cyning, a figure that is usually said to be Woden, but was later re-imagined in literature as a Brythonic king (see Herla article), has a name that has also been connected to Herian and thus also possibly to Herne[13].

It is possible that the name Herne may originate from the Old English hyrne or herne, the O.E. for 'horn' or 'corner' [14] [15] [16]

Another view is that Herne is connected to one Richard Horne, a yeoman during the reign of Henry VIII who was caught poaching in the wood. [17]

Post-Shakespearean adaptations

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Music

  • Arrigo Boito, composing a libretto for Verdi's opera Falstaff by improvising upon materials in Merry Wives and Henry IV, built the moonlit last act set in Windsor Great Park around a prank revenge played upon the amorous Falstaff by masqueraders disguised as spirits and the spectral "Black Huntsman," in whom we recognize Herne the Hunter. Carlo Prospers Defranceschi wrote a similar libretto for composer Antonio Salieri that specifically mentions Herne.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams' opera Sir John in Love, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Merry wives, feature an impersonation of Herne the Hunter to misguide Falstaff.
  • 'The Legend of Herne the Hunter' was part of Sir Arthur Sullivan's ballet Victoria and Merrie England of 1897, which portrayed various scenes from British folklore and history.
  • Herne the Hunter features in the lyrics of the song English Fire by Cradle of Filth on their album Nymphetamine.
  • On the 2008 Album, "Blessings" by S.J. Tucker, a song is titled "Hymn To Herne." He is presented as a hunter, similar to Cernunnos if not entirely interchangeable with him.

Literature

  • William Harrison Ainsworth's Victorian romance of Windsor Castle featured Herne and popularised him.
  • Herne the Hunter appears in Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence where he plays a key part in the end of the book by the same name and the series' ending Silver on the Tree.
  • Herne the Hunted is a parody of Herne the Hunter in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. He is a small god and the patron of those animals destined to end up as a "brief, crunchy squeak."
  • Herne the Hunter is a key figure in Ruth Nichols' children's novel The Marrow of the World. His character has no supernatural attributes.
  • English Poet Laureate John Masefield included Herne the Hunter as a benevolent 'spirit of the woodlands' in his children's book The Box of Delights.
  • Herne made an appearance in the Bitterbynde trilogy by Cecilia Dart-Thornton. In these books Herne is portrayed as a powerful "unseelie wight" by the name of Huon who leads his hellhounds in search of the main protagonist.
  • Herne the Hunter appears as a supporting character in Simon Green's Nightside series. He actually appears on the cover of "Hex and the City" (Book 4), although his role in the actual novel is rather inconsequential.
  • Herne the Hunter is one of the main antagonists in C. E. Murphy's Urban Shaman.
  • Herne is the Deer God in the book Fire Bringer, by David Clement-Davies
  • In Terry Pratchett's book Lords and Ladies in the Discworld series, a parody of Herne called "Herne the Hunted" is a minor character.
  • Herne the Hunter, also named as Cenneros, is a character in Michael Scott's series of The Alchemist, the Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flammel.

Other references

  • Herne was incorporated into the Robin Hood legend in the 1984 Robin Hood television series Robin of Sherwood. In it Robin of Loxley is called by Herne to take on the mantle of "the Hooded Man", which Robin's father had predicted beforehand. It is Herne who encourages Robin of Loxley to become "Robin Hood" and to use his band of Merry Men to fight for good against evil for the Saxon cause. Herne's appears bears a very strong resemblance to the illustrations that previously depicted him. He featured in 17 of the 26 episodes of the series and was portrayed by the actor John Abineri. The series' adaptation of the Robin Hood mythos has become extremely influential and many of its brand new elements have been reinterpreted in a manner of different ways in nearly all of the subsequent films and television series of the legend.
  • Herne the Hunter is also featured as a guiding character in the 1983 BBC Television series 'The Box of Delights'.
  • Herne the Hunter is Monster in My Pocket #59.
  • Herne is a deer-headed guide in Ursula Vernon's webcomic Digger.
  • Herne is a forest spirit in issue #26 of the Green Arrow comic book series.
  • In the 2004 console game The Bard's Tale, Herne is one of the three guardians of the towers.
  • In the The Elder Scrolls series, the Daedric Prince Hircine is very similar to Herne, as a deer-headed hunter spirit. His servants are called Hernes.
  • In 2010, Herne The Hunter appears in the Big Finish Doctor Who Story Leviathan. A lost story from the Colin Baker years

References

  • Fitch, Eric (1994). In Search of Herne the Hunter. Capall Bann Publishing. ISBN 978-1898307235.
  • Petry, Michael John (1972). Herne the Hunter: A Berkshire Legend. William Smith (Booksellers) Ltd. ISBN 978-0950021881.

Notes

  1. ^ R. Lowe Thompson, The History of the Devil 1929 p. 134
  2. ^ Petry, 1972.
  3. ^ The History of the Devil by R. Lowe Thompson, 1920, page. 133
  4. ^ 'Simple Wicca: A simple wisdom book' by Michele Morgan, Conari, 2000, ISBN 1573241997, 9781573241991as
  5. ^ Ronald Hutton, The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy, People of the Mist (chpt 5)
  6. ^ http://www.catshaman.com/s21edda2/09Eddagods2.htm
  7. ^ hesternic.tripod.com
  8. ^ Matthews, John. 'The Quest for the Green Man'. Published by Quest Books, 2001. ISBN 0835608255, 9780835608251. Page 116
  9. ^ Spence, Lewis. 'Hero Tales and Legends of the Rhine'. BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2007. ISBN 1434627551, 9781434627551. page 68
  10. ^ De Berard Mills. Bardeen, C.W.'The Tree of Mythology, Its Growth and Fruitage: Genesis of The Nursery Tale, Saws of Folk-lore, etc'. 1889
  11. ^ De Vries, Eric. 'Hedge-Rider: Witches and the Underworld'. Pendraig Publishing, 2008. ISBN 0979616875, 9780979616877
  12. ^ Greenwood, Susan.' The Nature of Magic: An Anthropology of Consciousness'. Berg Publishers, 2005. ISBN 1845200950, 9781845200954. Page 120
  13. ^ http://www.orkneyjar.com/tradition/hunt.htm
  14. ^ Shipley, Joseph Twadell. 'Dictionary of Early English'. Philosophical Library, 1955. Page 330.
  15. ^ http://rodneymackay.com/writing/pdf%20files/worldmyth.pdf
  16. ^ Bosworth, Joseph.'A Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language, Containing the Accentuation--the Grammatical Inflections--the Irregular Words Referred to Their Themes--the Parallel Terms, from the Other Gothic Languages--the Meaning of the Anglo-Saxon in English and Latin--and Copious English and Latin Indexes ...' Published by Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, 1838. Page 189
  17. ^ Hedley, Windsor Castle, 93.

See also

External links


and the Earl of Surrey, in Harrison Ainsworth's Windsor Castle, illustrated by George Cruikshank, c.1843.]]

In English folklore, Herne the Hunter is an equestrian ghost associated with Windsor Forest and Great Park in the English county of Berkshire. His appearance is notable in the fact that he has antlers upon his head.

The first literary mention of Herne is in William Shakespeare's play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, though there are several theories attempting to place the origins of Herne as predating any evidence for him by connecting his appearance to pagan deities or ancient archetypes.

Herne has appeared in various other books, TV series and other media since his first mention by Shakespeare.

Contents

The legend

Herne is said to have been a huntsman in the employ of King Richard II (reigned 1377–1399) in and around Windsor Forest. He saved the King's life when he was attacked by a cornered white hart, but was mortally wounded himself in the process. A local wizard brought him back to health using his magical powers, which entailed tying the dead animal's antlers on Herne's head. In return, however, Herne had to give up his hunting skills. The king's other huntsmen framed him as a thief. As a result he lost the favour of the king. He was found the next day, hanging dead from a lone oak tree. That same oak tree is in the Home Park at Windsor Castle.

The ghost

The earliest written account of Herne comes from Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor in 1597:

Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest,
Doth all the winter-time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns;
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner.
You have heard of such a spirit, and well you know
The superstitious idle-headed eld
Receiv'd, and did deliver to our age,
This tale of Herne the Hunter for a truth.
— William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor

This records several aspects of Herne's ghost which is said to have haunted Windsor Forest (covering all of East Berkshire and parts of south Buckinghamshire, northeast Hampshire and northwest Surrey) and specifically the Great Park ever since his death. Further details have entered local folklore from reported sightings , such as those in the 1920s[1]. He appears antlered, sometimes beneath the tree on which he was hanged, known as "Herne's Oak", but more often riding his horse, accompanied by other wild huntsmen and the captured souls of those he has encountered on his journey. He is thus a phantom of ill omen, particularly for the country and, specifically, the Royal Family. He has a phosphorescent glow and is accompanied by demon hounds, a horned owl and other creatures of the forest.

Herne's Oak

The supposed location of Herne's Oak was, for many years, a matter of local speculation and controversy. Some Ordnance Survey maps show Herne's Oak a little to the north of Frogmore House in the Home Park (adjoining Windsor Great Park). This is generally believed to be the correct site from which the oak of Shakespeare's time was felled in 1796. Queen Victoria, unfortunately, had a replacement planted on a different site. This new tree fell in a gale in 1863 when carved mementoes were made from the timber, including a cabinet for the Queen. The bungle was, however, corrected by her son, King Edward VII, who planted the current Herne's Oak in 1906.[2]

Possible origins

Various theories have been proposed to account for the origin of the character, none of which has been proved conclusive, and the source for many of the tales told of Herne remain unknown.

In his 1929 book The History of the Devil - The Horned God of the West Herne R. Lowe Thompson suggests that "Herne" as well as other Wild Huntsmen in European folklore all derive from the same ancient source, citing that "Herne" may be a cognate of the name of Gaulish deity Cernunnos in the same way that the English "horn" is a cognate of the Latin "cornu" (see Grimm's Law for more details on this linguistic feature).[3]

Some neo-pagans such as Wiccans consider Herne to be derived from Cernunnos (and connected to the Greco-Roman god Pan)[4]. However Herne is a very localized figure not found outside Berkshire and the regions of the surrounding counties into which Windsor Forest once spread. Conversely, evidence of belief in Cernunnos has been recovered only in the region near what is now Paris and not in Britain at all.[5].

In the Early Middle Ages, Windsor Forest was settled by heathen Angles who worshiped their own pantheon of gods, including Woden, who was depicted as horned [6][7], rode across the night sky with his own Wild Hunt and hanged himself on an ash tree in order to learn the runic alphabet. The name Herne is not unlikely to be derived from the name Herian [8] a name used for Woden as leader of the slain (Old Norse "Einherjar") and of the Wild Hunt.[9][10][11][12] Another Wild Hunt-associated folkloric figure, King Herla, started as the Old English Herla cyning, a figure that is usually said to be Woden, but was later re-imagined in literature as a Brythonic king (see Herla article), has a name that has also been connected to Herian and thus also possibly to Herne[13].

It is possible that the name Herne may originate from the Old English hyrne or herne, the O.E. for 'horn' or 'corner' [14][15][16]

Another view is that Herne is connected to one Richard Horne, a yeoman during the reign of Henry VIII who was caught poaching in the wood.[17]

Post-Shakespearean adaptations

Music

  • Arrigo Boito, composing a libretto for Verdi's opera Falstaff by improvising upon materials in Merry Wives and Henry IV, built the moonlit last act set in Windsor Great Park around a prank revenge played upon the amorous Falstaff by masqueraders disguised as spirits and the spectral "Black Huntsman," in whom we recognize Herne the Hunter. Carlo Prospers Defranceschi wrote a similar libretto for composer Antonio Salieri that specifically mentions Herne.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams' opera Sir John in Love, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Merry wives, feature an impersonation of Herne the Hunter to misguide Falstaff.
  • 'The Legend of Herne the Hunter' was part of Sir Arthur Sullivan's ballet Victoria and Merrie England of 1897, which portrayed various scenes from British folklore and history.
  • Herne the Hunter features in the lyrics of the song English Fire by Cradle of Filth on their album Nymphetamine.
  • On the 2008 Album, "Blessings" by S.J. Tucker, a song is titled "Hymn To Herne." He is presented as a hunter, similar to Cernunnos if not entirely interchangeable with him.
  • Singer-songwriter Kenny Klein has written and recorded two different songs about the legend of Herne, one of which, "Herne's Oak," is featured on the soundtrack of the documentary "Deep Down: A Story From The Heart" by Jen Gilomen and Sally Rubin.

Literature

  • William Harrison Ainsworth's Victorian romance of Windsor Castle featured Herne and popularised him.
  • The Horned King is a villain in an antlered mask in Lloyd Alexander's fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain and in The Black Cauldron film by Disney.
  • Herne the Hunter appears in Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence where he plays a key part in the end of the book by the same name and the series' ending Silver on the Tree.
  • Herne the Hunted is a parody of Herne the Hunter in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. He is a small god and the patron of those animals destined to end up as a "brief, crunchy squeak."
  • Herne the Hunter is a key figure in Ruth Nichols' children's novel The Marrow of the World. His character has no supernatural attributes.
  • English Poet Laureate John Masefield included Herne the Hunter as a benevolent 'spirit of the woodlands' in his children's book The Box of Delights.
  • Herne made an appearance in the Bitterbynde trilogy by Cecilia Dart-Thornton. In these books Herne is portrayed as a powerful "unseelie wight" by the name of Huon who leads his hellhounds in search of the main protagonist.
  • Herne the Hunter appears as a supporting character in Simon Green's Nightside series. He actually appears on the cover of "Hex and the City" (Book 4), although his role in the actual novel is rather inconsequential.
  • Herne the Hunter is one of the main antagonists in C. E. Murphy's Urban Shaman.
  • Herne is the Deer God in the book Fire Bringer, by David Clement-Davies
  • Herne the Hunter, also named as Cenneros, is a character in Michael Scott's series of The Alchemist, the Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flammel.

Other references

  • Herne was incorporated into the Robin Hood legend in the 1984 Robin Hood television series Robin of Sherwood. In it Robin of Loxley is called by Herne to take on the mantle of "the Hooded Man", which Robin's father had predicted beforehand. It is Herne who encourages Robin of Loxley to become "Robin Hood" and to use his band of Merry Men to fight for good against evil for the Saxon cause. Herne's appearance bears a very strong resemblance to the illustrations that previously depicted him. He featured in 17 of the 26 episodes of the series and was portrayed by the actor John Abineri. The series' adaptation of the Robin Hood mythos has become extremely influential and many of its brand new elements have been reinterpreted in a manner of different ways in nearly all of the subsequent films and television series of the legend.
  • Herne the Hunter is also featured as a guiding character in the 1983 BBC Television series 'The Box of Delights'.
  • Herne the Hunter is Monster in My Pocket #59.
  • Herne is a deer-headed guide in Ursula Vernon's webcomic Digger.
  • Herne is a forest spirit in issue #26 of the Green Arrow comic book series.
  • In the 2004 console game The Bard's Tale, Herne is one of the three guardians of the towers.
  • In the The Elder Scrolls series, the Daedric Prince Hircine is very similar to Herne, as a deer-headed hunter spirit. His servants are called Hernes.
  • In 2010, Herne The Hunter appears in the Big Finish Doctor Who Story Leviathan. A lost story from the Colin Baker years
  • In Lesley Livinston's 2008 debut novel "Wondrous Strange", Herne is an ancient hunter and former lover of Queen Mabh who now owns the Tavern On The Green in Central Park.

See also

References

  • Fitch, Eric (1994). In Search of Herne the Hunter. Capall Bann Publishing. ISBN 978-1898307235.
  • Petry, Michael John (1972). Herne the Hunter: A Berkshire Legend. William Smith (Booksellers) Ltd. ISBN 978-0950021881.

Notes

  1. ^ R. Lowe Thompson, The History of the Devil 1929 p. 134
  2. ^ Petry, 1972.
  3. ^ The History of the Devil by R. Lowe Thompson, 1920, page. 133
  4. ^ 'Simple Wicca: A simple wisdom book' by Michele Morgan, Conari, 2000, ISBN 1573241997, 9781573241991as
  5. ^ Ronald Hutton, The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy, People of the Mist (chpt 5)
  6. ^ http://www.catshaman.com/s21edda2/09Eddagods2.htm
  7. ^ hesternic.tripod.com
  8. ^ Matthews, John. 'The Quest for the Green Man'. Published by Quest Books, 2001. ISBN 0835608255, 9780835608251. Page 116
  9. ^ Spence, Lewis. 'Hero Tales and Legends of the Rhine'. BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2007. ISBN 1434627551, 9781434627551. page 68
  10. ^ De Berard Mills. Bardeen, C.W.'The Tree of Mythology, Its Growth and Fruitage: Genesis of The Nursery Tale, Saws of Folk-lore, etc'. 1889
  11. ^ De Vries, Eric. 'Hedge-Rider: Witches and the Underworld'. Pendraig Publishing, 2008. ISBN 0979616875, 9780979616877
  12. ^ Greenwood, Susan.' The Nature of Magic: An Anthropology of Consciousness'. Berg Publishers, 2005. ISBN 1845200950, 9781845200954. Page 120
  13. ^ http://www.orkneyjar.com/tradition/hunt.htm
  14. ^ Shipley, Joseph Twadell. 'Dictionary of Early English'. Philosophical Library, 1955. Page 330.
  15. ^ http://rodneymackay.com/writing/pdf%20files/worldmyth.pdf
  16. ^ Bosworth, Joseph.'A Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language, Containing the Accentuation--the Grammatical Inflections--the Irregular Words Referred to Their Themes--the Parallel Terms, from the Other Gothic Languages--the Meaning of the Anglo-Saxon in English and Latin--and Copious English and Latin Indexes ...' Published by Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, 1838. Page 189
  17. ^ Hedley, Windsor Castle, 93.

External links


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