Sunday, 15 February 2009

Backing the wrong horse

Invicta on the shield above the entrance to the old post office in Canterbury High Street

This is Invicta, the white horse of Kent. As a symbol it dates back to the Jutish kings of Kent in the 6th century. The armies of Hengist and Horsa are believed to have carried this on their banner when they landed on these shores in 450. It lives on in the logo of the county council and in numerous images and statues around the county. As an exiled Mancunian I'm fond of Invicta, it means "Undefeated", because it's a proud symbol of a particular area and it has a long and distiguished history. After the success of the Angel of the North it was decided that Kent should have a sculpture to symbolise the county and welcome those passing through. Like the Angel it'll be near a major through-route and visible for many miles. It's going to be at Ebbsfleet (near the International Station which is not near anything except the railway track) and is being organised by the Ebbsfleet Landmark Project company. This week they picked the winning design and it's a horse - here it is.

Wallinger's design This isn't "our" horse. Our white horse is proud and defiant. This beautiful animal is redolent of Aintree and Newmarket and Kempton Park and the Arabian stallions which sired it. In Kent we had a hill carving done in 2003 above channel tunnel, and it welcomes visitors from Europe. It's active and dynamic while this thoroughbred is passive and docile; neither are terms should be used to describe this county which has been at forefront of English history since time began. The Angles and Saxons and Jutes Cheriton White Horseand Danes and Normans and Romans all came through Kent; most landed in Kent on their first trip to these Sceptred Isles. After the battle of Hastings William the Conqueror headed to London only after taking Dover and Canterbury. The Battle of Britain was fought over the hop fields of Kent.

There is nothing wrong with this design, it's wonderful, but it's the wrong horse!

1 careful considerations:

Carrie A said...

Looks a perfectly nice horse for giving children rides at the petting zoo. My Viking ancestors would have been happy to leave that horse behind in Kent rather than waste the cargo space on it.