The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

White Horse Stone

Standing Stone / Menhir


Between Maidstone and Blue Bell Hill the 'Pilgrim's Way' crosses the Chatham-Maidstone road, and in the north-west angle there once stood upright another huge sarsen called variously 'The Kentish Standard Stone' or 'The White Horse Stone'; but this was broken up about the beginning of the nineteenth century, but another stone, still existing, but standing in the opposite north-east angle of the crossing, has inherited the name, and is today marked on the Ordnance Survey maps as 'The White Horse Stone'. It is a huge monolith standing upright and very similar to the great rectangular wall stones of Kits Coty House and Coldrum, having at one end the crude outline of a face caused by the natural configuration of the rock.

..... in 1834 we are told the legend of the (original) White Horse Stone. Upon this stone, it was written, fell the White Horse banner of Horsa when the Teutons were routed, hence its name of 'The Kentish Standard Stone'. This stone was soon afterwards destroyed, and the present 'White Horse Stone' inherited the legend.

...Since the names of Hengest and Horsa mean 'gelding and mare' it has been suggested that they refer to the war standards or war effigies of the invaders, and not to actual persons. It would be interesting to trace the origin of the story that Horsa bore a White Horse emblem, for it fits in remarkably well with the other implications of the legend. We cannot digress here into the subject of the Horse-Cult, but readers will doubtless be aware of the ancient sanctity of the animal; alike among Kelts and Teutons, white horses were considered sacred, and only a priest among the pagan Saxons could ride a white mare. Carvings of horse-heads on the gables of roofs in Denmark are still called Hengest and Horsa, and represent the guardian deities. Thus the fall of a White Horse banner at Aylesford would represent the death of Horsa. It should be emphasized that we are dealing here with legend, for history has yet to be satisfied as to the acutality of the Jutish invasion of Kent.
From 'Notes on the Folklore and Legends Associated with the Kentish Megaliths' by John H. Evans, in Folklore, Vol. 57, No. 1. (Mar., 1946), pp. 36-43.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th September 2006ce
Edited 25th September 2006ce

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