Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

White Stag

Cerf Blanc, Cherf Blanc

Stags, also known as deer, do not feature prominently in the core Arthurian legends but do appear in some related tales and Arthurian literature. The stag is often used as a symbol or element to convey specific themes and meanings in these stories.

White stags feature in a number of Arthurian tales. It was said that whoever hunted one down could kiss the loveliest girl in Arthur’s court. One was chased by Sagremor (Sagramore) in Rigomer, while another was hunted in the Forest of Adventure in Erec. Floriant pursued one which brought him to a castle of his foster-mother Morgan Le Fay and, in the Didot-Perceval, Percivale cut off the head of a white stag.

Image: A white hart in a forest. Credit: Nightbringer AI 2024

Sommer quotes from the Vulgate:

a deer who be more white than black ... and round his neck a chain of gold ... so has his company.

The white stay may originally have featured in stories of pagan, mythical nature and these tales may have some connection with the Celtic stag cult.

One of the most famous appearances of a stag in Arthurian literatures is in the tale La Queste del Saint Graal. In this version of the Grail Quest, a white stag is mentioned as a mystical creature that appears in the forests and leads the knights on a spiritual and transformative journey. Pursuing the White Stag becomes symbolic of the knights’ quest for purity, redemption, and the ultimate spiritual goal represented by the Holy Grail.

See also
Hart | The Legend of King Arthur

Image credit
White Stag | Artist: Nightbringer/Pixlr (AI generated)