The Chough in Kentish History and Mythology

The Red-billed Chough has not been resident in Kent for over two hundred years as it suffered the same fate of choughs around the rest of the coast – persecution and changing farming practices.

The chough in Kent has its own mythology. In Cornwall it is associated with King Arthur, in Kent it is linked to Thomas Becket.

Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury but murdered in December 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights who believed they were acting for the good of King Henry II. According to legend, a passing crow witnessed the event, and dipped its beak and feet in the martyr’s blood, giving the chough its distinctive features.

The team at the Wildwood Trust have created a short video, which shows the whole story in graphic, gruesome detail. It is not for the faint-hearted – but it is definitely for the fans of Lego!

Becket was murdered before the start of the age of heraldry, but his attributed arms have always shown three choughs.

This symbol can be seen in Canterbury Cathedral and many other churches in the area. In some areas, the chough is called a becket, or beckit.