Gurth is Cedric of Rotherwood's slave. He actually wears an iron collar around his neck like a dog – it's even got a tag with his owner's name on it. After Gurth and Wamba help Cedric escape Torquilstone, Cedric agrees to give Gurth whatever favor he wants. Gurth asks for his freedom, and Cedric strikes off his collar. This collar is an obvious visual symbol of Gurth's servitude. Whenever Cedric gets too much on his high horse about how badly the Normans treat the Saxons, remember Gurth's collar. The Saxons do a pretty good job of treating their own people poorly.