Hengist and Horsa (hĕngˈgĭst, hôrˈsə) [key], names of two brothers who, according to tradition, led the Jutish invasion of Britain and founded the kingdom of Kent. Hengist would more properly be written Hengest. They are said to have been invited by Vortigern in 449 to help the Britons defend themselves against the Picts and Scots to the north, to have settled in Kent, and to have fought a battle with Vortigern, in which Horsa was killed (c.455). The names may all be mythical, but historians generally agree that in the 5th cent. a Jutish chief and his retinue did arrive in Kent, did serve a British king, and did revolt, and that various battles prepared the way for the later settlement of Kent by the Jutes.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.