Known as the 'poor man's Stonehenge' (and he would be very poor indeed by comparison!), Kit's Coty or Kit's Coty House is the remains of a Neolithic chambered tomb. The site can be found in Kent, just off the A229 in between Maidstone and Rochester near to a town of the same name. The site comprises of three standing stones, covered by a fourth capstone. This would have been the entrance to a very impressive earthwork 5000 years ago, but the mound has long since vanished thanks to centuries of agriculture, and modern ploughing techniques.
The name Kit's Coty is thought to originate from a celtic phrase meaning 'House in the Woods', but there are a couple of other possibilities as to how the dolmen got its name.
Both the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Historia Brittonum refer to a battle between Catigern along with his brother Vortimer against Horsa and Hengist in the 5th Century. Catigern and Vortimer were the songs of Vortigen, a ruler in the time of the Dark Ages, who seemed to have a lot to do with the coming of the Saxons to England. Catigern and Horsa were killed in the battle, and Kit's Coty is thought to mark Catigern's grave. Though Catigern may well be buried near the monument, it was erected several millenia beforehand...
Kit or Cat is also the Celtic word for battle, so the site may have become a memorial, like cenotaphs are today, for the fallen warriors. This would either stem from the story of the brothers above, or from the famous Celtic story of Cit Coit (the Battle of the Woods), the location of which is unknown. There are legends of ghostly re-enactments of a battle taking place on the hills around the monument.
The site has drawn quite a lot of attention to itself over the years. Samuel Pepys wrote of it:
Three great stones standing upright and a great round one lying on them, of great bigness, although not so big as those on Salisbury Plain. But certainly it is a thing of great antiquity, and I am mightily glad to see it.
The site has also been diminished in size with the loss of the mound, and an associated standing stone called the General Stone being blown up in 1867 by religious zealots.
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Other Local Prehistoric Sights
For pictures of the site, see: