As you drive through Vila Nova de Cerveira in the far north-west of Portugal, you come to a round-a-bout , which has an interesting centerpiece… …a topiary Stag.
Then as you wander around the small town, there is featured every now and again, a reoccurring emblem… of the Stag.
I didn’t find out whilst we were in Portugal what this all meant.
I have now done some research on the internet and Wikipedia turned up exactly the information I was looking for to tell me why this emblem is so important in Vila Nova de Cerveira.
So… directly out of the pages of Wiki…
The name of the village is explained by a legend.
“Once upon a time… there was a stag (deer) that was chosen by the Gods of Olympos to become a King.
Many years flew past. Fights, skirmishes, and disasters gradually devastated the colony until only the King Stag was left.
According to the legend, when the noblemen from Asturias came down during the Reconquest to conquer what was to become the Condado Portucalense (Portugal), a young noblemen challenged the King Stag to a face-to-face duel.
And the old Lord accepted. The duel took place among the trees and weeds on a trenched site. And, so the legend tells, the King Stag swept to victory! He kept the nobleman’s flag that turned to be the King’s coat of arms.
But the Gods deceived the old King. He wouldn’t be immortal… Tired of living and ill, the old Lord died in the loneliness of the crags and with him disappeared for good the Terra da Cervaria.”
But the legend wasn’t forgotten and the coat-of-arms still bears a golden passant stag in silver armour standing in a green field.
These are a few of the stags that I found, but there is one rather imposing one that we really couldn’t miss…