London Stone – What Exactly is it?!

London Stone

The London Stone is a random thing that most people don’t know about. It appears to be a plain rock or stone that is protected by a gate. It is so easy to miss that many London tourists walk past without knowing it is even there!

But the London stone is a very mysterious and fascinating object that is worth exploring.  

Why is the rock even there and why should we care about it?

The stone has stood the test of time across wars, plagues and many historical events.

Although the rock was nearly moved in 2012, it is still sitting at 111 Cannon Street in London today. 

Even Londoners can’t say for certain but there have been theories over time. There is a plaque near the rock that states that the origin and purpose of the rock is not known.

The London Stone is Made out of Limestone

So what exactly is the London Stone? It is a chunk of limestone that is a short .5m tall.  

Spreading Rumors with King Arthur

We do know that the stone has been often mentioned throughout the centuries. Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote a history of Britain in the 12th century and he mentioned the stone even back then!

The best rumor about the stone is the legend of King Arthur and the suggestion that the stone could be the very stone that Arthur pulled the sword from, making him the king. Of course, we don’t even know if King Arthur ever existed or not!

Was The Rock Used by Romans?

Another theory that has been popular for centuries is that was used by the Romans who occupied Britain from around 43 AD to 410AD. According to this theory, the Romans were thought to have used it as a road marker to measure where they were. Even Charles Dickens mentioned this theory in his book Dictionary of London.

Although the theory seems plausible, there is no evidence to support it, except for the monument in Rome that has a resemblance. This idea was perhaps started by William Camden who was writing an oral history of Britain back in  the 16th century.

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The Stone of Brutus or Brutus the Trojan?

According to another oral tradition, some has argued that London cannot survive without the rock. To support this idea, there is even a proverb that claims that if Brutus’s alter stone is ok, then London will be a great city.  

Londoners have a hard time when the topic of moving the stone is raised. They are quite resistant to this idea!

The Brutus in the proverb is known as Brutus the Trojan – the person who is claimed to be the founder of the city of London. This appears to be a stretch of logic to most people but since there is little written history that goes back that far, it is also impossible to disprove.

Is the Stone connected to Druid Sacrifices?

The most salacious and gory theory is that the stone was important because the Druids used it to sacrifice their victims on it.  

Over Time the Stone has Become More Prominent

Although though the rock had been sitting in its place for quite some time, in the 15th century it was thought to become more magical in importance. For example, the Lord Mayor of London started using the rock to show his authority and it became a noted meeting place as well as a spot to take oaths and vows.  

Rebels also liked its importance and have used it to feel energized in their rebellions. For example, Jack Cade, who led the 1450 rebellion, hit the stone with his sword before heading to King Henry VI.

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Cade thought that if he hit the stone, he would now be Lord Mayor and have control of London. But obviously it did not work out that way!

Also, Shakespeare mentions it in his play Henry VI as well.

The Pretorium or Governor’s Palace

Over time historians have realized that it turns out that the stone is in the middle of where a Roman structure of some kind was sitting. The structure was called a pretorium, which is essentially a governor’s palace.

Despite all of these interesting theories and myths, the true origin of the rock is anyone’s guess.

With so many theories over the year, any of them could be true. Historians still do not have consensus on what the correct view is. And yet the rock still remains important to Londoners.

Was Brutus of Troy Involved?

Although not mentioned in any classical text, Brutus of Troy is still widely considered the founder of London and perhaps the first king of Britain. There was a historical compilation in the 9th century that mentioned Brutus and his importance to both London and Britain.

The 9th century account explores deeply into the life of Brutus. It is thought, however, that Brutus named Britain after himself after he left his home. Brutus’s story is a myth to this day and there is no way to sure that it was Brutus who put the stone there.  

Video: Is the London Stone Actually a Relic From A Lost City?

If you would like to learn more, this short video will give you an up close look at the stone and also some more information.

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