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March 12, 2007

Place of oaths, deals and mystery: The London Stone

On Wednesday I'll walk east from Mayfair into legal London, down Fleet Street past Dr. Johnson's house and then past St. Paul's, on a stroll tracing and just above the Thames, to 111 Cannon Street, in the middle of the financial district. Thanks to Peter Ackroyd, author of London: The Biography, I'll stop and discover an unspectacular grate I've passed many times before. I'll look wistfully and imagine. Therein sits the unnoticed, forgotten and neglected London Stone, indisputably ancient, over which oaths were made and deals struck for centuries. There's an inscription on it, I'm told. Although linked to pre-Christ Druid ceremonies, historians can agree that it's at least a marker from

Roman times, making it a 2000 year-old symbol. A small boulder, at or near its present spot for centuries, it has even survived the Blitz, and was once the symbol of authority and heart of the City of London. In 1450, Jack Cade, opposing King Henry VI in the Kent peasant rebellion, struck his sword against the stone in a statement of sovereignty after arriving in London with his rebels. He declared himself lord of the city. Later that year, of course, Cade's head ended up on a pike on the London Bridge.

Posted by JD Hull at March 12, 2007 11:55 PM


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