Photo: London Stone. Lonpicman/CC BY-SA 3.0

Housed behind an iron grill in Cannon Street, this legendary stone of unknown origin stirs up all kinds of mystique and intrigue.

The earliest written reference to the London Stone is in a book belonging to King Athelstan in the early 10th century, and it was used as a common transportation landmark in the 12th century. Historic texts suggest it was actually a central marker from which all distances were measured back in Roman times. It is also sometimes called the Stone of Brutus, referring to the mythical Trojan founder of London.

Although there are no references that suggest that the stone had any symbolic authority, in 1450 Jake Cade, leader of a rebellion against Henry VI, struck his sword against it and declared himself “Lord of the City.” In the 15th century, the stone was a common place for political meetings. The Lord Mayor of London would strike the stone with a staff each year as a proclamation of authority.