Horsa is the younger brother of the Saxon leader Hengist who was killed in the the Battle of Ægelesthrep.

The Name HorsaEdit

The name Horsa is a variant of Old English hors (‘horse’), cognate with Old Saxon hros, Old Norse hross, Old Frisian hors, hars, Middle Low German ros, ors, Middle Dutch ors, Dutch ros, Old High German hros, ros, Middle High German ros, ors, German Roß, which all mean ‘horse’ and which possibly meant earlier ‘the jumping animal’, from Teutonic *hrossa-, corresponding to pre-Teutonic *qru-tá-s, participle of a lost verb meaning ‘to jump’ from a dental enlargement of Indo-European base *(s)qer-, ‘to leap, jump, bound’, whence also Old Indian kū́rdati, ‘leaps, hops’.

See Klein (1971, horse)

Other than this one case, hors does not occur as an element in any Old English names. The word eoh, meaning ‘horse’ is used instead.

Information from the TextsEdit

Horsa appears as the companion of his elder brother Hengist in many texts, but none of them provide any further information on the character, save accounts of Horsa’s death.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Historia Brittonum, and Henry of Huntington’s Historia anglorum all say that Horsa was killed in the Battle of Ægelesthrep. The Historia Brittonum and Historia anglorum also have Vortigern’s son Catigern killed in the same battle, and according to Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae, Horsa and Catigern slew each other in a single combat.

Bede, in his Evangelical History says that Horsa was killed in a battle by the Britons, and his tomb is still there in the eastern part of Kent. But its supposed location is not now known.


  • Klein, Ernest (1971) A Comparative Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, Amsterdam, Elsevier.

Some Name VariationsEdit

LATIN: Horsa, Horsus; FRENCH: Hors, Horsa, Hostis; ENGLISH: Horse, Hors; WELSH: Hors, Horss.

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