Published: 06:00, 14 August 2020
No matter where you go in Kent, one thing you will never be far from is the rearing white horse that features on absolutely everything.
It's on the Kent Police logo, the county council logo, oast houses, Kent's flag and even on road signs.
And if it's not the symbol you see, The White Horse is also the name of at least eight pubs scattered across the county.
But, just like much of history, the story behind why we use this noble steed comes from different legends.
While nobody can be certain of its exact origins, there are a couple of stories which could explain why the symbol and its Invicta motto still appear everywhere today.
The Flag Institute dates the Kentish flag, featuring the white stallion on the red background, back to the 17th century.
It is supposedly based on Saxon mercenaries, led by brothers Horsa and Hengest, according to website Kent Today and Yesterday.
The legend says Hengest founded Kent in 449AD when the brothers landed in the county under the command of Vortigern.
Vortigern, ruler of Britons, wanted Hengist and Horsa and their warriors to aid him in his war and in return would give them control of the Isle of Thanet.
Soon after the brothers sensed weakness and turned against Vortigern forcing him to hand over the whole county.
The white horse, also known as the Saxon Steed, is said to have appeared on Hengist's battle flag and this is one of the reasons why it has remained the emblem of Kent ever since.
Other versions of the story say they lost the battle beneath Blue Bell Hill but the Anglo-Saxons did ultimately take control of the county.
Another name associated with the horse is ‘Invicta’ which in Latin means unconquered.
The white horse and Invicta are now one and the same, but the story behind the motto comes from a different point in history entirely.
This brings us to another story which links to Kent’s resistance to William the Conqueror.
According to Kent Family History Society, the motto is a reminder that Kent was not conquered at Hastings in October 1066.
There are different tales of how this happened but the most widely accepted legend was written in a 13th century chronicle by Thomas Sprot a monk of St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury.
It says, on his way to Dover to return to Normandy, William, who was taking his first journey through Kent after the Battle of Hastings, was prevented from passing unhindered through East Kent by representatives of the Men of Kent.
Symbolically they are said to have held out a branch or a sword, and told William to choose - treaty or war.
In opting for the branch he is understood to have offered both the Men of Kent and the Kentish Men the retention of certain rights and customs if in return they would accept him as their King.
This tale is also told on a plaque in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Swanscombe which says: “Near this spot in the year 1067, by ancient tradition the Men of Kent and Kentish Men, carrying boughs on their shoulders and swords in their hands, met the invader William Duke of Normandy.
“They offered peace if he would grant their ancient rights and liberties, otherwise war and that most deadly.
“Their request was granted, and from that day the motto of Kent has been Invicta - unconquered.”
The tales of the Kentish Man and the Man of Kent are another complicated story which links to whereabouts in the county a person is born.
Putting it simply, if you originate from the East of the Medway, you are a Man or Maid of Kent, from the West, then you are a Kentish Man or Kentish Maid.
But whichever part of the county you come from, there will be countless links to the white horse.
It appears on the coat of arms for authorities in Margate, Medway, Ashford and Maidstone to name a few. It is also used by the boroughs of Bromley and Bexley, which have historical associations with Kent.
Slightly further afield, the emblem still appears on the coat of arms of Lower Saxony, a region in northwest Germany which suggests Kent's link to the Saxons holds some truth.