This newish exhibition at The Museum of London has an amazing collection of mesolithic, neolithic, bronze and iron age artefacts - together lots of very good information on the periods and the history of the Thames Valley and the area of the city in particular.
An ancient and obscured piece of limestone has long guarded Cannon Street. It's called simply London Stone (never 'the' London Stone). It might be a Roman milestone or druidic monument. Nobody knows. Very few people ever notice the venerable rock, which has long languished in a woefully unworthy niche opposite the station.
From this Friday, the mysterious artefact will finally get some attention when it goes on show as part of the the Museum of London's War, Plague & Fire gallery.
London Stone was once much larger and more prominently positioned. The monument is mentioned in Shakespeare, and was first referenced in the 12th century. It is undoubtedly much older, and has been incorporated in the foundation myths of our city.
Display at the museum will finally bring London Stone back into public awareness after its long slumber. It will remain at the museum while work is carried out to rebuild its existing home.
The stone is shifting to the museum for temporary display, while its existing home is knocked down and rebuilt.
See London Stone at the Museum of London from Friday 13 May 2016. Entrance is free.
In legend, it formed part of London’s foundations and was the resting place of King Arthur’s sword Excalibur.
But for years the London Stone has lain in a case behind a pavement-level grille in the Cannon Street WH Smith.
Now, the Grade II listed lump of oolitic limestone is set to be restored as a centrepiece of the Square Mile.
It ended up in the Sixties block housing WH Smith after its former berth, St Swithin’s Church, was bombed in the Blitz.
Under plans to turn the block into an eight-storey office tower, developer Applegarth has revealed plans to give the stone pride of place on a plinth.
An application to the City of London Corporation says: “The plinth and the London Stone would be reinstated at the height they were in St Swithin’s Church prior to its destruction in the Second World War. This would make it more prominent to public viewing than is currently the case.”
Giles Clapp, clerk of the Worshipful Company of Masons, which helps protect the history of the City of London, said: “We support giving the stone the prominence it deserves. It is very important in the telling of the London story.”
The relic — also known as the Stone of Brutus after the legendary Roman founder of the capital — is mentioned in historical documents as early as 1100.
It was written about by Shakespeare and Dickens and has become the subject of countless myths, including claims it was the stone from which Arthur drew Excalibur.
The 17th-century poet William Blake believed the site of the relic was a druidic sacrificial stone circle, while another theory holds it was the symbolic point from which all distances in Roman Britain were measured.
An application by developers Minerva to move the stone into the foyer of nearby offices sparked a row with heritage groups in 2012. The latest plan has been broadly welcomed, with Historic England raising no objections.
The CLC has called the new proposal “an appropriate development”. Its ruling, after a meeting tonight, could have wider repercussions for the City. An ancient warning comes with the block, which says: “So long as the Stone of Brutus is safe, so long will London flourish.”
I visited the Stone on the 19th March 2012 CE.
It's now very dimly lit. The entire building empty, a To Let sign hangs from the building. Through the window to the stone I could see abandoned display and merchandising displays, perhaps left behind by the sports shop that last occupied this space. The stone deserves more. Opposite the space aged facade of the new loo Cannon St station, mood lit in comparison to the empty and forgotten space that the stone resides in on the other side of the road.
There are barriers and road works currently slightly dividing a symbol of the ancient past and the modern reality of modern commuters passing buy with take away coffee and laptops unaware of the almost hidden stone. If you stop though, even just for a second then you can still spend time at the stone, consider it's past, hope for a better custodian than an empty shop space to let.
If the remainder of the stone is still beneath ground level and you believe in the ley line theories by Iain Sinclair and others then this is still a magical place, albeit one that requires as healthy dose of imagination and romantic thought.
"It now appears the the Stone will be on its travels once again, although this time not across the road, but a few doors along. Diamond Geezer, one of the prolific London bloggers, has been delving into the planning application from the owners of the building where the stone now resides:"