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March 08, 2009

111 Cannon Street: The London Stone


During spring break last year, WAC?'s Holden Oliver had a few drinks on Fleet Street, ran amuck in Legal London with some friends, and got dressed up like an early 20th century bobby for no reason at all. Here he poses before the mysterious London Stone on Cannon Street.

Finding the Stone is not hard: you head east, down Fleet Street, past Dr. Johnson's house, past St. Paul's a block north, staying on Fleet Street (not Lane) which becomes Ludgate Hill (past intersection with Old Bailey), which becomes Cannon Street, to 111 Cannon, across from the tube station. You'll miss It if you're not careful. You may give an oath to It if you like.

I have a thing about The London Stone--probably because I live much of the time in California in an "old" 22-year-old home. Back East in the U.S. (which I like more), there's much older stuff, of course, sometimes going back to the 1600s--but nothing like you stumble upon at every turn at every moment in London. In America, out West, and very close to my home here, you can see rock and cave paintings. In the Midwest and South, there are mound-builder mounds and other antiquities.

But these don't cut it for me.

I like old books, old homes, old anythings; however, they need to be the relics of my cruel, greedy, goofy-looking European ancestors. I am sorry. Feel free to alert the Oberlin College faculty, the BIA and, of course, NPR. Maybe Nina Totenberg is having a slow month.

The Stone is important to me because it's mysterious and fires the imagination--not because it's way old. There's a myth that the Stone was part of an altar built by Brutus of Troy, the legendary founder of London. Not true in any respect. But the Stone is Olde, older than Boudica, Tacitus, Disraeli or Keith Richards, and at the very minimum, an enduring symbol of the Authority of The City since London Roman times. So we're talking about at least 2000 years of Stoneness. Some scholars think 3000 years. My guess is that it's been a human mile marker, altar and/or symbol for about 2200 years, even before the brilliant Roman cad Julius Caesar blew into Britain in 54 BC and again the following year as a military pretext to further his political ambitions.


Posted by JD Hull at March 8, 2009 06:04 AM


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