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A Giant White Crystal Stag Reemerges on a Scottish Hillside After Hikers Find it Hidden

Mormondhill Stag, Mormond Hill Stag, crystal white stag, White Hart, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Strichen Horse, geoglyph, Doug Simpson

A giant crystal white stag measuring 239 feet (73 meters) by 219 feet (67 meters) has reemerged from a hillside in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Dubbed the Mormond Hill Stag, it’s a modern-day geoglyph like the giant White Horse in the UK dating back 3,000 years. 

But this Stag only dates back 153 years, created in 1870, and it is near an older, smaller white crystal horse, the Strichen Horse (named for the village of that name). The horse geoglyph sits on the other side of the hill (145 feet across or 44.5 meters). Both can now be seen for miles around.

Images via Facebook/Mormondhill Stag

The Mormond Hill Stag or Cortes Stag reemerged after 20 years without maintenance because of a determined hiker (or rambler), Doug Simpson, and volunteers who spent five years restoring the Stag. It’s made up of 5-inch chunks of white quartz rock but had long been looking more brownish with weeds and sediment.

“I’m not sure if it was the stag that chose me, but I’m certainly drawn to it,” Simpson told the BBC.

Doug Simpson clearing weeds from the geoglyph via Facebook/Mormondhill Stag

While on a hike with a group, a man in his 70s talked about finding the Stag, which he remembered seeing as a child. But the area was overgrown, and they couldn’t even get close to it. Then, Simpson found a 20th-century map that confirmed its location. After pinpointing the location, a forestry company helped clear a path so they could get closer.

“Early map from 1902 showing the Stag. OS Maps 1902 -Aberdeenshire V111.13”

Image via Facebook/Mormondhill Stag

The Mormond Hill Stag

It was a huge task to clear away all the prickly overgrowth that had covered the area over two decades. Various plants had reclaimed the hill, including a spiny yellow-flowered shrub called gorse, heather, bracken, and small trees. Volunteers arrived with gardening tools and turned the rocks over to expose their brighter undersides to the sun.

Simpson led efforts that included a social media campaign, drawing volunteers to help clear away the overgrowth. Many of the volunteers were schoolchildren.

To prevent weeds from covering the geoglyph again, Simpson hopes to place truckloads of smaller white chips over the entire Stag.

You can see both the Stag and the horse in the video by Nicky Cordiner below:

Where Did the Stag Come From?

The Mormond Hill Stag, also called the Cortes Stag, was constructed in 1869-70 by Mr. W.F. Cordiner of the rural settlement of Cortes. Estate tenants created the huge display to commemorate the owner’s wedding. To make it more impressive, they made it bigger than the white horse.

The tenants collected thousands of the white stones and probably moved them by horse and cart. 

Who made the horse? According to many sources, Captain Fraser (Lord Lovat of Strichen) commissioned it in 1820 as a tribute to Sergeant James Hutcheon. The Sergeant gave his horse to his horseless captain in battle in 1794 in Holland. Unfortunately, Hutcheon was killed before he could find another mount.

The White Stag’s Missing Eye

On Facebook, they have identified a man named William Gill, born in 1843, as one of the people who created the Stag and maintained it after that. Gill was the Great Great Grandfather of Adam Sanderson, who came forward with the story. He also said the Stag’s eye was once shaped like a dome.

“Adam also tells me that his ancestor had spoken of the Stag’s eye being a dome-shaped mound built of quartz stones, and he (Adam) would have loved to have seen that (me too),” shared Mormondhill Stag. “Regrettably, that is no longer in existence, but maybe could be replaced as the original. Thank you, Adam, for this fascinating piece of history, it is the first we have had from someone who could throw any light at all on the construction.”

Image of William Gill via Facebook/Mormondhill Stag

Video about the Stag via Larry Bees:

Legends of The White Hart

The white Stag is also called the White Hart, an archaic term for deer, as popularized in the Harry Potter series as Harry and his father’s Patronus. Interestingly, the word’s root is “deliverer.” There are many symbolic meanings for the Stag, such as the presence of Christ on earth in Christianity, immortality, and the killer of snakes. 

Celtic people considered a White Hart, a messenger from the otherworld or afterlife. In Arthurian legend, King Arthur pursued the animal, which could never be caught. As an eternally ephemeral creature, it is symbolic of mankind’s mystical spiritual quest.

In Scotland, the Stag is associated with Holyrood House in Edinburgh because legend holds that King David I of Scotland built an abbey in response to encountering a Stag. There are many versions of the story, but one is he suddenly came across the animal while hunting in the wooded area on Sunday. He had skipped church and saw a cross between the Stag’s antlers.

Crest of the Stag with The Cross

Later, a crest for the area incorporated the Stag’s head with a cross between its large antlers.

Description: “As seen on the mercat cross of Edinburgh. They depict the Stag and cross from the story of Scotland’s 12th-century King, David I. While hunting in the forest of Drumselch, he was thrown from his horse and about to be gored by a stag when he had a miraculous vision of a cross appearing between its antlers. The Stag withdrew, thus confirming the King’s belief that his life had been spared through divine intervention. Tradition has it that he founded Holyrood Abbey on the spot where the vision occurred. The tale is strikingly similar to that of St. Hubertus and was likely spread by the abbey’s Augustinian canons to the its founding.”

Image of the Burgh arms of the Canongate, Kim TraynorWikimedia Commons

Video about Holyroodhouse by Royal Collection Trust:

Fairies, Druids, and Shamans

In the Scottish Highlands, red deer were traditionally called “fairy cattle,” milked by the fae. In Irish lore, Druids could transform people into deer with a curse.

Dating back to ancient times, the enigmatic Celtic god of the forest, Cernunnos or “the Horned One,” is depicted as a shaman with an antlered deer skull. He often holds a snake and is associated with Oak trees. Some believe the Gundestrup Cauldron, an ancient silver vessel found in a Denmark peat bog from the 1st century BCE, depicts Cernunnos with a Stag (see video below).

Image of a panel from the Gundestrup Cauldron, Malene ThyssenWikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED

Such cauldrons are also associated with the Tuatha Dé Danann, pre-Christian Irish gods who were said to glow with light. They later became associated with fairies.

Although Cernunnos was labeled as pagan by Christians later, he embodied the Celt’s love and reverence of nature. 

Video about Cernunnos by Pantheon Mythology:

The Penalty for Killing a Stag

In the Greek myths, killing a White Stag is severely punishable. Goddess Artemis (Roman Diana), associated with the Egyptian Bastet, punished a hunter who killed her beloved Stag. He used the pelt as a disguise, quietly sneaking up to where she was bathing, spying on her. The nymphs bathing with the goddess saw the spy and alerted Artemis. Enraged, she turned the hunter, Acteon, into the same creature. As he attempted to escape, his own hunting dogs attacked and killed him. 

When a rare white Stag appeared on video in Scotland in 2008, it created a stir, and conservationists hid its location to protect it. A year prior, a white stag appeared in Britain and was hung from a tree and beheaded by poachers.

“Those responsible may now be quaking in their boots: it was once believed that anyone who killed such a rare and sacred animal would be cursed for ever. Other legends depict the white Stag as a creature that can never be caught by hunters or as a messenger from beyond the grave,” the Guardian reported.

If you set eyes on the White Hart, some believe it heralds an important life change. And, the White Hart is associated with the heart chakra, said to be a spiritual guide of wisdom and intuition at the gateway to higher spiritual states. An open heart chakra leads to the higher chakras associated with states of higher consciousness. 

White Stag seen in Scotland by SWNS:

Featured images via Facebook/Mormondhill Stag

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