Herne the Hunter: The Spirit of Windsor Forest


If you see Herne the Hunter coming, turn the other way and run, says CALLUM CAMPBELL

Herne the Hunter

Haunting Windsor Forest, Berkshire, is a tall, horned man that torments animals and races through the trees upon a wicked steed, followed by a horde of hounds.

His name is Herne the Hunter and he is one of the most powerful and iconic ghosts in English history. 

First appearing in Shakesphere’s the Merry Wives of Windsor, it is unknown if the bard made this character up or if he drew on a local legend. It seems likely it is the latter, however, for many people have spotted a horned man prowling the Windsor Woods. 

Whenever Herne is spotted, however, this signifies the nation is on the verge of a calamity as he has been spotted before World War 2 and the deaths of several British monarchs. 

Who was Herne the Hunter?

We do not know exactly who Herne was in life, although many theories have been put forward, the main one being he was a groundskeeper or poacher who committed sucide in the woods. 

We do, however, know what he is in death, a torturer of beast and man alike. 

Herne the Hunter slaughters animals he finds in the woods, carries off cattle, makes cows give blood instead of milk and withers trees and plants. 

Herne the Hunter

He is often seen storming through the forest on a horse with a pack of haunting hounds, causing a racket of moans, blasts of horns and rattling chains. 

This association with hunting has placed Herne at the head of the legendary Wild Hunt in many accounts. 

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This Wild Hunt is a parade of ghostly hunters that spell doom to anyone who sees them or hears their hunting horns, flying through the skies with steed and hound. They will slaughter man and beast, with no mercy for either. 

Although, Herne has the full run of Windsor Forest, he seems tied to a particular tree named Herne’s Oak. This tree has been blown down several times but a new one has always been replanted with the newest in 1906.

This tree is speculated to be the tree Herne hanged himself on by those that support the sucide theory. 

While we do not know how he was in life, in death Herne the Hunter is a cruel murderous character and if one is to see him prowling the woods, run!

Herne the Hunter was one of 10 Greatest English Folklore Characters You Need To Know.

Watch The Legend of Herne the Hunter Video

What Shakespeare said about Herne the Hunter

There is an old tale goes, that Herne the
(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, Act 4, scene 4

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