Horsa and Hengest his brother are legendary warrior princes who allegedly spearheaded the 5th century after the Roman withdrawal from Britain, the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons and should have built a kingdom on the island. However, its historicity is (like his brother ) very controversial.

Life and Legend

Hengest and Horsa were said to be the sons of an otherwise unknown Wihtgils. They were reportedly brought to the later, not contemporary tradition around the year 447 of Vortigern as mercenaries to Britain to fight with their husbands against their enemies, the Picts. As wages they received land at Ypwinesfleot in the southeast of the country, the later kingdom of Kent. Later, the brothers allegedly threw with Vortigern and it came to a battle of 455 Agælesþrep ( Aylesford ), fell in Horsa. Horsa to have been buried in East Kent and set it up a monument to his memory.

Warrior twins are a common theme in folklore, and since the earliest information about Horsas existence only by Bede, 300 years after the events, come, scholars have recently strengthened advocates that both Horsa and Hengist their alleged existence of a just mythological topos owe.

Overall (mainly due to known topical reports in early medieval sources in which to find similar mythical founder stories ), it is likely that it has traded at Hengest and Horsa to mythical people in the later tradition, not real historical personalities.

Tradition history

The oldest tradition of events comes from Gildas from the mid-6th century. Horsas and Hengists names are there but not mentioned. To 731 written by the generally quite reliable Venerable Bede, a more detailed representation in the Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, but it is unclear how he came to information about Horsa and Hengest. Beda held for the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Gildas, but ( as I said ) Horsa and Hengest nowhere mentioned. In the middle of the 9th century, Nennius in his Historia Brittonum added added more imaginative details, while the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describes the events surrounding Horsa in a concise factual form at the end of the 9th century.


The East Westphalian city frets shows in their coat of arms two knights who join hands. According to legend, it involves Hengist and Horsa, who made ​​a covenant to the conquest of England at the location of today's city limits. Thus there are today also the frets Hengistweg and Horsastraße.

Even the street name Horsatal in Westerland -Braderup on the North Frisian island of Sylt refers to Horsa. According to legend, in the year 449 the two fishing or Jutes Hengist Horsa and be broken up by the then port the old Wennigstedt out with an army to Britain.

The British glider Airspeed AS 51 Horsa named after him in 1940.

A memorial plaque for him was taken in in the Walhalla near Regensburg.


  • Venerable Bede Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, online in Medieval Source Book (English)
  • Anonymous: Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Online at Project Gutenberg (English)
  • Gildas De Excidio Britanniae, online in Medieval Source Book (English)
  • Nennius: Historia Brittonum Online in the Medieval Source Book (English)