Overlooked history

BBC News: London’s heart of stone.

The mysterious "London stone" is going to be rescued from a building due to be demolished. Does it mean that London is going to be saved from an ancient legend? You couldn’t get much less of a romantic setting for an historic monument. It’s in a kerbside cage, stuck on the wall of a sports shop in Cannon Street due for demolition. The only clouds of mystery billowing around it are the car exhaust fumes from the traffic crawling through the City of London. But this is the neglected setting of the London Stone – an ancient and mysterious object mentioned by Shakespeare, William Blake and Dickens, which has been seen as one of the capital’s greatest relics since at least the Middle Ages and probably much earlier.

Now there are plans for the limestone block to be put into the Museum of London for safekeeping, while the building to which it’s gloomily attached is pulled down and the site is redeveloped. Protecting the stone might not be such a bad idea – since there is a legend that, like the ravens at the Tower of London, the fortune of the city is tied to the survival of the stone. "So long as the stone of Brutus is safe, so long shall London flourish," says the proverb.

The London Stone is best viewed from inside the sports shop, in the cricket section. It is watched over by the store manager, Chris Cheek, who protected it from builders. I hope they build a container for it in the new building and leave the stone on Cannon Street.

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