White Horse Stone

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The stairs that lead from the trackway to the Stone

The Upper and Lower White Horse Stones are names given to two sarsen megaliths on Blue Bell Hill near Aylesford in the English county of Kent. They are generally considered to be fragmentary examples of the Neolithic chamber tomb group known as the Medway megaliths. The stones are said to be a monument to Horsa, a great warrior and King of Kent who supposedly died near the stone but is most likely fictional (see Horsa and Hengist articles for details), who used the White horse of Kent as his standard.

Upper White Horse Stone[edit]

Upper White Horse Stone
Some of the nine smaller stones that stretch to the west of the monument

The Upper White Horse Stone (grid reference TQ753603) is 2.9 m long, 1.65 m high and about 0.6 m thick and stands just inside Westfield Wood, off the Pilgrims' Way. Close by it are nine smaller stones that stretch to the west for about 10 m.

There is no evidence of a covering barrow and it has been suggested that these much smaller stones were moved from the neighbouring field by local farmers. Its identification as a chambered long barrow like the other Medway megaliths is therefore uncertain although the shape certainly resembles a chamber wall stone.

In local tradition this is also the burial place of the Saxon leader Horsa. The standing stone is also considered by some visitors to resemble a horse's head. Both these links have been suggested as the source of the name. A connection with the white horse on Kent's "Invicta" coat of arms has also been invoked. Locals at the nearby public house in the early 1990s used to refer to the White Horse Stone as "The Ingá stone".

Lower White Horse Stone[edit]

The field in which the Lower White Horse Stone once stood; the exact location is unknown

The Lower White Horse Stone once stood about 300 m west of Upper White Horse Stone. It was destroyed in 1823 and the site is now under the dual carriageway that climbs Blue Bell Hill. It therefore cannot either be said with certainty to have been a true prehistoric megalith.

Threats to the White Horse Stone[edit]

In 2004 the telecommunications company Orange sought planning permission to build a radio tower within just a few metres of the stone. Local residents contacted a religious group, The Odinic Rite, asking for their help as they had previously campaigned to have High Speed 1 diverted away from the stone. This group began a campaign[1] and sent out messages to contacts around the world asking for people to write to Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council asking for planning permission to be denied. At the council planning meeting representations were made by The Odinic Rite, another group called Woden's Folk and local residents. The councillors unanimously rejected the application.

In May 2006 Orange sought planning permission [1][2][3] from Maidstone Borough Council to install a telecommunications mast just across the border between the Maidstone and Tonbridge & Malling borough councils. This new proposal was still within 100 metres of the White Horse Stone and so a new campaign was launched by the Odinic Rite. If approved, this plan would have seen an 8-metre high mast built in an area designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

This application was refused on 28 July and the following reasons were given:

The proposed mast would be sited in a particular location that would intrude upon views across the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the North Downs Special Landscape Area. In this respect this proposal would be harmful to the natural beauty and scenic quality of the landscape. Furthermore it would also be clearly visible from the North Downs Way and would affect the wider setting of the Ancient Monument for the White Horse Stone. The proposal would therefore be contrary to policies of the Maidstone Borough-Wide Local Plan 2000 and policies of the Kent and Medway Structure Plan 2006.

Guardians of the White Horse Stone[edit]

On March 22, 1987 members of the Odinic Rite conducted "Operation Guardian" during which they cleared away undergrowth and built steps (which remain today) to allow access to the stone. The group called themselves Guardians of the White Horse Stone and looked after the area around the stone but activities were sporadic and unorganised.

Following the first threat to the White Horse Stone by Orange, members of The Odinic Rite decided to formalise these activities and Guardians of the White Horse Stone became an official part of the Odinic Rite. This group meets at the stone every 6 months to clear litter and have removed items ranging from a slot machine, carpet tiles, builders waste and car body parts from the area surrounding the stone. [4][5][6]

See also[edit]

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Coordinates: 51°18′55″N 0°30′53″E / 51.31528°N 0.51472°E / 51.31528; 0.51472