Kit's Coty House

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Kit's Coty House

Kit's Coty House or Kit's Coty is a Neolithic chambered long barrow on Blue Bell Hill near Aylesford in Kent.

One of the 'Medway megaliths' constructed in the vicinity of the River Medway, Kit's Coty House are located close to five other surviving chambered long barrows: the Coldrum Stones, Addington long barrow, Chestnuts long barrow, the Countless Stones and Coffin Stone.

The site is now under the ownership of English Heritage, and is open to visitors all year round.

The origin of the name "Kits Coty" is unknown. An etymology adopted for the signs placed on the site would have it as "Tomb in the Forest" and derives it from the Ancient British tongue and a word related to the Welsh coed' ('forest').

Place in the landscape

The stones stand in the valley of the River Medway by near Aylesford.

Although badly damaged by ploughing and later vandalism the impressive entrance to the tomb still survives. It consists of three sarsen orthostats supporting a horizontal capstone with a total height of almost ten feet. This would have been at one end of an earthern long barrow 230 feet long oriented east-west. A further stone at the site known as the General's Stone or General's Tomb was destroyed in 1867 and may have come from the chamber. William Stukeley visited the site in 1722 and was able to sketch the site whilst it was still largely intact. Before this, Samuel Pepys also saw it and wrote:

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 author George Orwell visited the site on 21 August 1938, as detailed in his domestic diary of that date.[1] He describes it as "..a druidical altar or something of the kind. ..The stones are on top of a high hill & it appears they belong to quite another part of the country." The stones are actually well down the slope of Blue Bell Hill, less than a mile to the north.[2]

Stukeley's 1722 prospect of Kit's Coty House with its remnant long barrow still just visible and labelled 'The Grave'
Kit's Coty House
The back slab of the megalith, engraved with much graffiti

In 1854 the stones were investigated by Thomas Wright who found 'rude pottery' beneath the stones and further Neolithic sherds were recovered from the surrounding field in 1936. Trenching in 1956 located the silted-up ditch surrounding the southern side of the monument and further stones which had been pushed into the ditch when the monument was partially demolished. An excavation in advance of High Speed 1, which runs nearby found the remains of a Neolithic longhouse.

In 1885, Kit's Coty was one of the first sites in Britain to become a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the iron railings that surround it were added a few years later at the suggestion of Augustus Pitt Rivers. It is now in the care of English Heritage.

As only the megalithic portion of the barrow was fenced in by the railings, the long earth barrow has been continually ploughed away since, with uncovered stones dumped in woodland nearby by the farmer and the mound itself, still visible in the mid-twentieth century, now gone.

The site is traditionally known as the burial site of Catigern, brother of Vortimer and son of Vortigern following a battle with the Saxon Horsa in the mid fifth century AD - listed in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as taking place in 455. In 1947, one of the stones from the kerb was removed.

Little Kit's Coty House and other sites

Main article: Little Kit's Coty House

Little Kit's Coty House or The Countless Stones, stand 500 yards to to the south.

In 1880, the archaeologist Flinders Petrie listed the existence of the stones at Addington in his list of Kentish earthworks.[3]

In 1893, the antiquarian George Payne mentioned the monument in his Collectanea Cantiana, describing it as a "fallen cromlech" and noting that there were various other megaliths scattered in the vicinity, suggesting that these were part of the monument of another like it, since destroyed.[4]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Kit's Coty House)


  1. George Orwell Diaries. W.W. Norton & Co. 2012. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-87140-410-7. 
  2. Google Earth 51.3199°N 0.5029°E
  3. Petrie 1880, p. 14.
  4. Payne 1893, pp. 126–127.
  • Coldrum Long Barrow - The National Trust
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  • Malone, Caroline (2001). Neolithic Britain and Ireland. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus. ISBN 0-7524-1442-9. 
  • Payne, George (1893). Collectanea Cantiana: Or, Archæological Researches in the Neighbourhood of Sittingbourne, and Otherparts of Kent. London: Mitchell and Hughes. 
  • Petrie, W.M. Flinders (1880). "Notes on Kentish Earthworks". Archaeologia Cantiana 13: 8–16. 
  • Philp, Brian; Dutto, Mike (2005). The Medway Megaliths (third ed.). Kent: Kent Archaeological Trust. 
  • Smith, Martin; Brickley, Megan (2009). People of the Long Barrows: Life, Death and Burial in the Early Neolithic. Stroud: The History Press. ISBN 978-0752447339. 
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