Herne was Richard III’s huntsman….?

from the Royal Collection Trust, Samuel Ireland (1744-1800)
The original oak was blown down in the 19th century and replaced by one donated by
Queen Victoria

Herne and his oak tree seem to have been associated with Windsor Castle Great Park for a very long time. The Sun “….Meanwhile, in the grounds of Windsor Great Park, it has been said you can sometimes spot the ghost of Herne, who was a huntsman for Richard III….”

Really? Methinks the newspaper is mistaken, because Herne goes back a lot farther than Richard III.

Herne the Hunter by Andrew Howat, 1976

Mind you, if you go to ancient pages , it’s only about a century earlier. “….Is there a true story behind the legend of Herne the Hunter? There are several versions of an old tale revealing the faith of Herne, who was a huntsman employed by King Richard II….”

Others will assert that Herne goes no further back than Shakespeare, but then again, maybe he’s the antlered god of the Celts, Cernunnos.

Cernunnos on Gundestrup Cauldron

Whatever the truth, I don’t think Herne was one of Richard III’s huntsman. Although he may have made an appearance to that ill-omened king, of course.


  1. well, Viscountessw, this prompted some memories! I can’t tell you anything about Herne the Hunter but I agree, he appears to be a local (Berkshire) legend and unconnected with the widespread and fabulously popular Cernunnos. Although not directly connected with my grad work many of my Italian artists did drift north to the court of Francois I of France (he begged, oh how he begged!) and created what is still known as the First School of Chateau Fontainebleau, literally the first phase of French art that will too soon dominate Europe and displace Italian artists (Michelangelo refused to go lol, but he did send an incredibly naughty, hmm, complicated painting, since lost, but copied by Rosso Fiorentino, deemed too naughty and later destroyed by one of the French Queens, indeed! And people think art history is sooooo boring).

    As for Francois, what I most recall, aside from his desperation to acquire artists, anyone, please! come to this pathetic backwater known as 16thc France, I beg you, well, somewhere in my files I do have a etching/drawing of Francois AS Cernunnos, done probably by Primaticcio (or maybe dell’Abbate, Penni?) or even Rosso Francois would certainly have known the Gallic history of Cernunnos, who was widely found all through Celtic Europe, and those antlers atop his head would have appealed to this unrestrained sybarite! The best work done for him, just my opinion, were done by Rosso at Fontainebleau, especially the enormous panels of the Elephant or Diana. I could go on but I will resist!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I have to say “Snap!” in that I can’t tell you anything about 16th-century French art. Zilch, so I will take your every word as gospel. Regarding Herne and Cernunnos – I hve just spent half an hour going through my bookshelves in search of a particular book in which I know I read a lengthy paper on just these two mysterious figures. I have a reasonable collection of books on myths and legends of the British Isles, the Celts, Arthur etc. etc. and I KNOW I saw the book in question only the other day. But is it there now? No! I have to say that I think Herne wishes to remain mysterious, and has enlisted the aid of Cernunnos. Between them they’ve eluded me.

      How is it that a book can hide in plain sight? It has to be in plain sight or I wouldn’t have spotted it the other day. Clearly I need to turn to Merlin, if I can find his mobile wand number….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe he was a real figure, that through folklore, legend and later a connection to Cernunnos he was able to rise to the Deity figure he is today. Whether his real name was Herne or not doesn’t matter, many of us have nicknames or variants we go by.

    Energetically, Herne and Cernunnos are vastly different. But many Gods began localised and as humanity moved around, their Gods went with them. He certainly is mysterious – I’ve been wanting to write my own book on Him, and His reaction was, “meh.” 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Rowan, divulge a few of Herne/Cernunnos’ secrets and that reaction will go from ‘meh’ to wrath, whirlwinds of wrath. Keep your collar up and enjoy the fury, and take notes.


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