“They groan’d aloud on London Stone.” William Blake
Wren’s rebuilt St Swithin’s church in 1831, with the casing of London Stone prominent in the middle of the front wall. Engraving after Thomas H. Shepherd, 1831
Source Wikimedia Commons
Charlotte Higgins, Chief culture writer for The Guardian, reports 12 March on the proposed rehousing of the London Stone –
Roman milestone, druidic altar, Excalibur’s resting place? Mysterious stone surrounded by stories is to be restored and rehoused
Rarely, perhaps never, has so spectacular a web of myth been woven around so unprepossessing an object: a small slab of limestone that lurks behind a metal grille set into a derelict, partially burnt-out building on Cannon Street in the City of London, with only balled-up pieces of chewing gum and dust for company. London Stone has, in its time, been identified as a druidic altar for human sacrifice; a Roman milestone; the slab in which Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, was embedded; and part of the remains of the palace of the Roman governor of Britain.
One version has it that Brutus, the legendary founder of Britain, brought it from the sack of Troy. The saying goes that “so long as the stone of Brutus is safe, so long shall London flourish”. Now the City of London has taken a small step towards a more dignified future for the London Stone than its current lodging in the facade of the 1960s former Bank of China office – more recently a branch of Sportec and, latterly, a WH Smith [bookshop].
Planning permission has been granted for the demolition of the building and the erection of new premises on the site, to include a special raised plinth so that the artefact can be viewed by the public. During the building works, it is hoped that London Stone will be displayed in the Museum of London for about 20 months from late spring.