Journal of Geomancy vol. 1 no. 3, April 1977




The area around Aylesford, an ancient crossing of the river Medway, was once one of the richest megalithic areas of Southern England.  Today, due to the actions of farmers and landowners, only a handful of sites remain.  The sarsen stones were removed either because they hindered the smooth flow of farming operations or for building walls etc., and this was in an age when interest in pre-history as it was called, was very limited and archaeologists were known as antiquarians.  Even today however, with all the interest that has been aroused in history, also astro-archaeology and its relation to megalithic remains, the stones continue to disappear.  The purpose of my article is to document the remaining stones in this area which a visitor can still see today and the ones that have been subjected to the ravages of human ignorance in our past. 

Kits Coty, or to some, “The Kentish Stonehenge”, is perhaps the best known of all, and usually the only megalithic remains that most inhabitants of Kent have ever heard of or visited.  Like Stonehenge, to many it is a “disappointment.” Now it has been surrounded by a cumbersome, black Department of the Environment iron fence, probably to protect it from vandals.  This seems to be the price we have to pay these days to protect the past, but aesthetically the fence is ugly and somewhat detracts from the inherent beauty of the place.  Today Kit’s Coty therefore is rendered to some as a “disappointment”, but to those who can see beyond these modern barriers it has a lot more to offer than just mere awe and wonder. 

The Department of the Environment notice reads “A Neolithic tomb (Medway Group) used for collective burial in about 2000 B.C.  Originally a long mound with a stone kerb, both now destroyed, and this chamber at the east end, similar to the North European ‘Hun’s Beds’.”

Kit’s Coty and the other megalithics are more similar to ‘tombs’ found in Holland, North Germany, Denmark etc., than others in Britain for instance, but since Kent was the ‘gateway to England’ even in Neolithic times and was also on the route of the old track from Dover to Wiltshire via the North Downs, converging at Avebury on Salisbury Plain, that hardly seems surprising.  Later, this route was renamed the ‘Pilgrims Way’ (somewhat erroneously by an Ordnance Survey employee in the 1800’s with romantically Chaucerian overtones). 

All that now remains of Kit’s Coty is the burial chamber, formerly at the end of a long barrow three upright stones and a capstone or “ten tonner”.  The barrow can now only be seen from the air, although it was extant in outline some 250 years ago. 

Lambarde, in his famous “Perambulation of Kent”, attributed it to the Britons and contended that it was erected in the memory of Catigerne, who was slain when the Saxons invaded Kent, hence its present name in the battle involving Hengist and Horsa.  But it was obviously erected long before Saxon times and even the Druidical overtones which legends connected with Kit’s Coty sometimes have, can be regarded as essentially erroneous.  The semi-legendary Catigerne {46} did however leave his legacy in the naming of the megalithic group. 

Just below Kits Coty House back about 500 yards towards Aylesford village lies the much more scattered grouping, Little or Lower Kits Coty House in the corner of a field.  This group of roughly 20 stones, are also known variously as the “Countless Stones” and the “Numbers”.  Someone has recently been here trying to paint numbers upon each stone. 

As regards legends these stones are very rich.  They cannot be counted by any human being and when a baker tried to put a loaf on each stone so as to count them his attempts were thwarted by the Devil himself.  Connections have also been made with battles by the finding of alleged human bones and soldiers buried dressed in armour here.  There is also a legend of divine retribution in that if a landowner tried to remove any of the stones, financial ruin would follow. 

The original tomb was destroyed in 1690.  It was formerly a chamber of large stones with a kerb of smaller stones, subsequently covered with earth.  The only recently found remains were microlithic tools, discovered in 1930. 

The National Trust protects Coldrum Stones, which are situated close to the Pilgrims Way, near a tiny little hamlet called Coldrum, whose nearest neighbour is Trotterscliffe.  Nowadays the name is attributed to the name of nearby Coldrum House, built in 1796, but we all know which was erected first!  In 1800 the “Gentleman’s Magazine” published a description by the Rev. Mark Noble together with a plan and in 1808 “Beauties of England and Wales” (VIII) also described Coldrum. 

The massive burial chamber is 13 feet long and 5 feet wide, and is made up of four sarsen blocks, standing at the edge of a natural terrace some 17 feet high.  At the foot of this terrace are 12 or so megaliths, which have since moved from their original positions.  Many bones have been found interred here, including human, deer, rabbit and ox and can be found in the village parish church.  A complete skeleton was also unearthed and this has led again to Druidical sacrificial speculations. 

Just south of Trotterscliffe at the village of Addington are Addington Park Chambered Long Barrow and the ‘Chestnuts’ Chamber tomb.  The Addington Park barrow is now much damaged although it was clearly rectangular in shape, and has now been cut diagonally in half by the road which runs between, The local parson, C.B. Larking noted that the burial chamber was still intact in 1845, but has since fallen down, all that now remains being a line of very large stones flanking the North East End of the barrow. 

The Chestnuts chamber tomb is nearby situated besides a house, north of the road from Wrotham Heath to Addington.  This had a rectangular burial chamber lying east to west and formerly had a covering barrow mound of sand, now almost totally destroyed, which was D-shaped in plan.  The ‘tomb’ has at least been considerably renovated, although much work still needs to be done, and finds show that this site had a long history of usage.  {47}

Back towards Aylesford only two lesser sites of these now extant remain to be described.  The ‘Coffin’ Stone is in a ploughed field close to Great Tottington Farm and is approached by the farm road.  Two skulls were found here in 1836 and the fact that various other stones were found round about suggests a former burial chamber.  Other stones are significantly also found close by at Tottington springhead (notice the name), and these seem to be of an earlier date.. 

On the other side of that modern un-straight road the A229 on a footpath east of Warren cottages, lies the White Horse Stone, which gets its name for resembling a horse although to me it rather resembles an “orgone” energy accumulator.  Formerly part of a burial chamber, around it are fragments of other sarsens probably all from the same source. 

I did not intend to delve into the ley-lines of this area in the present article as this would take much more space, but my map surveys show that Coldrum certainly seems to be the centre of the network, with more than 6 definite leys converging here.  This is more than at any other extant megalithic grouping in Kent.  Interestingly enough, I also found the Coffin Stone to be on a ley-line between Coldrum and the Countless Stones but I only located the stone to be a marker point exactly on the line (as it was not on my OS map), after drawing the original ley-line!  As regards the disappearing megaliths, one can only gather what little there is left in the annals of history.  It will suffice to describe here some of the more important disappearances separately. 

The most recent disappearance was that of a large stone which I nicknamed ‘The Grey Wether’ by reason of its recumbent position which rendered it the shape of a sheep or wether when seen far off.  This stone was in a field about 200 yards from Kits Coty House itself when I visited it in 1975, but had this year well and truly gone.  A letter was published in the local paper regarding this, and alas I received the reply from the local Council that as the megalith was not in the area protected by the DOE, (that cumbersome iron fence again!), its removal was not illegal. 

Another large stone formerly stood beside the Coffin Stone, (see earlier), and also several smaller sarsen stones used to lay nearby. 

To complement the Upper White Horse Stone, there was formerly another burial chamber similar to the Chestnuts and Coldrum, discovered by a ploughman at the other end of the same field in 1823.  It seems to have consisted of a tomb 2·1 metres long, with 3 wall stones, and contained human bones and pottery.  It was named SMYTHE’S megalith, after the antiquary who first recorded it, (rather than the ploughman who first discovered it), and has since been destroyed. 

A sketch by William Stukeley made in 1722 shows a single large stone at the far end of Kit’s Coty known as the ‘General’s Tomb’.  This together with other stones around the perimeter of the barrow more recently found, suggest that the mound there was originally revetted.  This ‘tomb’ was destroyed in 1867.  Stukeley also recorded an arc of small stones that lay on either side of the present chamber seeming to indicate a facade (as he called it).  The reference to the ‘general’ would seem to be connected with the battle between Hengist, Horsa and Vortigern upon this site, as it lay only eighty yards north of Kits Coty House itself.  {48}

About six miles to the north of Coldrum Stones there were in 1907, many Sarsen stones, which were thought to be part of an old stone circle, in a hollow in a wood called Cockadamshaw, though as far as I now know these are no longer extant. 

It was also more fancifully conjectured that Kits Coty House and the Countless Stones were at one time connected by a great avenue of stones.  If correct, (and it is mentioned by several sources), it implies something certainly upon the lines of an Avebury or a Stonehenge scale of construction. 

In this connection interestingly enough the Countless Stones are also often called the Hundred Stones.  This would imply that stones were constantly being taken away from the site, thus the number diminished all the time, always remaining countless.  Another source also mentions the stone that I nicknamed the ‘Grey Wether’ as being the last vestige of a former stone circle, and if this is correct, it is sad that this last stone has finally been removed and we are powerless to do anything about this. 

The “Hundred Stones” however might likewise be a reference to a former line of Sarsens that used to connect Hale Farm to the Cossington Springs, another line that joined Kits Coty to the Countless Stones, and amazingly enough a third which connected Tottington to Bluebell Hill, just north of Kits Coty,

Among other former megaliths are a forgotten tomb formerly opposite the Lower Bell Inn and more recently the widening of the major road, the A229, has taken from us a group of moss-covered stones in an overgrown wood, all set in an earthen trench. 

So the removal of our megalithic heritage goes on and is seemingly unstoppable.  All we can do is to bring these disappearances to the attention of the public at large and hope pressure will eventually begin to be brought.  This I am trying to do via our local press.  Meanwhile we at least still have the beauty of Kits Coty and Little Kits Coty preserved for us, but in this destructive age it remains to be seen how long for.  Fortunately, more people than ever before are taking an interest in the preservation of our past. 


An excerpt from ‘Highways of Byways of Kent’ by Walter Jerrold. 

‘Seventy years ago (1837), this astounding and most original accounting for ‘Kits Coty House’ was made:–

‘“A friend of ours, riding from Chatham to Maidstone on the van, entered into conversation with a lady, whose appearance and manners bespoke a situation certainly somewhat above that of the middle classes, and not a little surprised was he to receive from her fair lips the following solution of a great mystery.  Those immense blocks of stone which now excite our wonder as to the means by which they were raised and placed in their present position, were at the time of their erection comparatively speaking, mere trifles; but being of a very porous nature, they absorb a vast quantity of water and other humid matter, to this adheres the dust blown from the road, and all sorts of atmospheric impurities, which being baked by successive suns becomes hard as the stone itself, of which in fact it forms a portion, and thus ‘Kits Coty House’ has attained its gigantic size.  Hear this, oh, ye {49} fishers in muddy waters – ye diggers of visions of antiquity, – ye men of historical research.  Listen to this simple – this satisfactory explanation, and confess how vain are all your theories about Cromlechs and Druidical altars, and resting places for the bones of Saxon Kings.’” (?!).