One of the mysterious creatures that inhabit the dark forests of Arthurian lore is the stag with a crown around its neck.
This bizarre figure has entered heraldry and folklore as well. A stag gorged with a crown (French gorge = “throat”) appears on numerous coats of arms and pub signs.
The meaning is not far to find. The stag is the preeminently crowned animal—“crowned with antler”—and, as such, Lord of the Forest. Still: a crown around the neck? Weird.
Peeking from behind the High Medieval Dudgeon of much Arthurian lore one may sometimes see hints of something older and wilder: retroflections of the early Iron Age, post-Roman Keltic world that gave rise to the later material. And here, I suspect, we may find a key to understanding the stag gorged with a crown.