Many years ago, a white hart was born on the Isle of Wight; a treasured creature that was seen as a blessing and a sign of prosperity. According to the law of the time, the doe and her fawn were set free and allowed to roam the Island without hinder; no hunter would touch them.
And so it was that the white fawn grew to have to no fear of man, in fact he saw them as friends as they would all come to him with food and bowed heads. The people of the Island found themselves filled with joy at the sight of this most magical of creatures. Word spread quickly from the Island to the mainland and beyond. People travelled from far off lands to come and see the white fawn, make their offerings and leave in peace.
However, word of the white fawn made its way to a lord who knew nothing but greed. All he could see was jealousy and his only desire was to have this creature as a prize. So he sent his men to capture it and bring it back to his lands.
The men made enquiries when landing on the Island and asked to be given an audience with the white fawn. They told a local guide they wished to make their offerings and bestow peace upon the young deer and the guide gladly obliged. The guide took the men to the fawn and his mother and the lord's men went through the motions of offering grain and nuts for it to eat. That night, they went back out into the woodland and aided by the light of the full moon they easily found the deer. The deer stood looking and them and in the light of the moon it appeared to glow. The men stood and stared at the creature and because it had not learnt to fear men, it gladly came close enough for them to capture it.
The men stole away with the fawn and made haste to their boats. They tied it up, and muzzled its mouth and set sail for their master's hall.
When the lord saw the beast, his greed and black heart blinded him the deers inner beauty and magic, he only saw it as a possession.
“A fine animal! We will feed it and fatten it and when it is grown we will set it for the hunt.” Proclaimed the lord.
He finally had what he wanted and he made sure that fawn was kept safe until it was time to put the rest of his plan into action.
Over the course of the next few years, the fawn grew into a great white stag – strong, tall and mighty. The White Stag walked around the lord's grounds, and was always given anything he desired. People would sneak onto the grounds at night and give him offerings, but those that could truly see knew there was a sadness that clung to it. No offering, no kindness would take the sadness away, yet the Stag would still bestow his blessing of peace and prosperity upon anyone who came by.
They say the stag had never forgotten his home, the kindness of the people he was stolen from and the love of his mother. However, his nature was that of giving and that is what he did.
It was said that it was a curious thing, the White Stag never took a mate and would never fight another for territory but it was not because it could not. It was quite clear that the White Stag was the biggest and strongest buck in the herd and the others all treated him with reverence and respect. It seemed no other male would dare challenge him; all knew his true power.
Finally the time came and the lord decided the hunt was afoot. He ordered his men to take the White Stag and release it into the hunting forest. The lord was excited, his eyes filled with the hunger of the kill and his heart wanting nothing more than full submission of the beast. He believed the stag would prove an easy trophy, this tame animal that was always able to be seen. Before leaving after the White Stag he ordered his cooks to be ready to roast the deer when he brought it back.
The stag ran and ran, a distant longing had taken over; a natural calling that showed him the way. Before he knew it he had run so far that the forest was thinning and the daylight was steaming and warming his white fur. As he ran with those invisible fingers pulling him and guiding him he noticed the air has changed and suddenly before him was the sea. In the distance the stag could see the island of his birth, the land he was from and it was calling him home. He leapt straight into the calm waters and started to swim.
The lord, his men and dogs gave chase but no matter how hard they pushed the hounds and horses they could not catch the deer. They feared they had lost him, but the dogs still seemed to have the scent and the party pressed on. By the time they got to the edge of the water, the shadows were already lengthening. They looked out across the sea they saw a white dot making its way to the other side.
The lord, furious, ordered his men to get the boats so they could sail after the White Stag with their horses and hounds in toe. Something strange happened as they set out, the water that was calm suddenly turned. It became choppy and the breeze that was full and proper fell away. The men pulled out the oars and started to row, but it felt like they were pushing against an upstream current.
The hunting party made it to the island by nightfall; exhausted by their terrible trip the men wanted to stop. But the lord said no! For it was a bright night, the July Full Moon. This was the very moon that the lord's men had used to capture the deer all those years before and the lord believed this was a sign.
The dogs quickly picked up the scent and they gave chase. Slowly and methodically the party went off in search of the beast but it was soon evident that they were going around in circles. What they did not realise was that the White Stag remembered his home and took them all about. He was leading them on wild goose chase by back tracking and running around in circles. This infuriated the lord, who decided plunge the party deep into the woods and make their way like an invading army through the island.
The night went on and the moon rose higher and higher and the hunt continued.
After what seemed many hours, the Stag, tired and bruised found a quiet spot to rest. Unfortunately the stag’s luck had run out and the lord finally caught up to the beautiful animal. The White Stag jumped up and went to run, but it was too late he was cornered.
Behind the White Stag was the sea and he was stuck on a narrow section of land that jutted out into the raging ocean below. Seeing that the deer had no where to go but the jagged rocks below the hunting party was filled with confidence. They moved slowly, arrows at the ready, but the White Stag stood his ground.
As the hunters drew back their bows the great beast crashed its antlers to the ground. It is said the sound it made was like thunder coming down from Woden himself. The Stag was not going to go out without a fight and he crashed his antlers down again hard and powerfully on the ground. Sparks flew up and the crashing thunder filled the air.
The land rumbled with each crash and before the hunting party knew what had happened the earth below gave way. The splint of ground with the chalk beneath crumbled and the lord and his men tumbled into the ocean and their death. The men were swept onto the rocks below and the sea ripped them apart as it dragged them out.
The Stag stood tall and strong, head held high. The moonlight shone down on it, bathing it in its cold grey light making him glow brightly. The Stag was standing in the middle of the sea, on a tall remanent that made a sort of small island and he leaped forward. Light of foot to the point of flying he landed safely back on solid ground and quietly walked off into the woodland of the Island.
To this day the rock is still called Stag Rock and it is in Fresh Water Bay. People look at it and ponder its name, some people even know that a Stag once jumped there to avoid a hunting party. People say that the White Stag is still on the island and brings blessings to those that need it. The cunning folk know that there is something special about him and remember him every year during the Stag Moon.