God(s) of the Week: Hengist and Horsa

6/20/2011: Hengist and Horsa

Hengist and Horsa were Anglo Saxon twin brother horse deities that were later Euhemerised, eventually being written about as early kings of England.

When Bede wrote his History of the English People in the 8th century CE, he included them as historical characters, referring to them as early chieftains of England. And when Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote his History of the Kings of Britain a few centuries later, he expanded on it, adding even more ‘information’ about them, leading to them being mentioned in other accounts that quoted Geoffrey’s popular work.

Modern accounts attribute their origin to the Celtic twin gods mentioned in the works of Timaeus in the 3rd century BCE, as well as Cassius Dio and Tacitus in the 1st century CE.

The paired horse head style of gables is named after Hengist and Horsa.

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