Sitting in the heart of London since long before anyone can remember, theories regarding the London Stone range from Roman ruin, to Druidic icon to a talisman of good fortune.
Although many point to John Stow’s Survey of London(1598), where he sets the 10th century as the first mention of the stone in print (he claims he found a mention of the stone in a document from the 900s AD), others feel more comfortable citing a list of Canterbury Cathedral’s properties from somewhere around the turn of the 12th centuries, where it lists Eadwaker æt lundene stane.
Regardless, by medieval times, the London Stone was a fixture in the city, so much so that residents even incorporated it into their names, such as Ailwin of London Stone. Clearly important, by the 15th century the landmark was seen as a symbol for London, and perhaps England; this helps explain why, when Jack Cade led a rebellion against Henry VI in 1450, he reportedly struck the London Stone with his sword in claiming the city for himself, as immortalized by Shakespeare in King Henry VI, Part II, Act IV, Scene VI.
In the 16th century, one popular theory for the stone’s origins was that it had been used by the Roman’s during their occupation (approximately 43 AD – 410 AD) as a millarium or central milestone from which all distances were measured. Charles Dickens even cited this explanation in his Dictionary of London (1879).
During the 18th century, some were speculating that the stone was used in worship by the Druids, although there is no evidence to support it.
In the 19th century, as interest in spiritualism became more widespread, some theorized that the London Stone was a Palladium or talisman dating back to Roman times and Britain’s legendary founder. It was during this time that the now well-known saying appeared: “So long as the Stone of Brutus is safe, so long shall London flourish.”
By the 20th century, serious archaeologists began digging into the London Stone’s origins, and some found that it is situated at the center, or at the gate, of where a large Roman structure, sometimes identified as a Governor’s palace or pretorium, had been.
Today, those who believe in ley lines, straight “lines” that connect sites of historical or geographical significance, claim that the London Stone is transected by several of these lines, while others have posited that the stone was set in the center of the old Roman city, in homage to Jupiter.
Source….www.today i foundout.com
The plaque is the last living relic of the Marmalong, the first ever bridge built over the Adyar river in 1726 by Armenian trader Coja Petrus Uscan.
If you take a walk across the busy roads of Saidapet in Chennai, chances are that you would cross what is perhaps one of the oldest living relics that connects the city to its Armenian past.
To the uninitiated, it may look like an unremarkable slab of stone on a pale green crumbling wall. However, this ordinary looking slab of stone is in fact a 300-year-old plaque that belonged on the pillars of one of oldest bridges in the city.
Marmalong Bridge, the first ever bridge across the Adyar river, was commissioned in 1726 by Coja Petrus Uscan, an immensely wealthy Armenian trader. Uscan, who had decided to settle in Madras after coming to the city in 1724, paid 30,000 pagodas from his own money to build the bridge and another 1,500 pagodas for its upkeep.
“Uscan was immensely respected and perhaps was even one of the only non-British allowed to stay in Fort St George or the White town. A devout believer in St Thomas, Uscan wanted more people to visit the Saint Thomas Mount, and therefore removed the two impediments – the river and the lack of steps – by building the bridge as well as 160 steps to the mount. This was the initial purpose of the bridge. But all that soon changed as the Marmalong Bridge became crucial to the expansion of the city, especially towards the South,” says Chennai-based novelist and historian Venkatesh Ramakrishnan.
Mount Road came after the bridge
Mount Road, around which the city developed, came 60 years after the Marmalong bridge.
Named after Mambalam, one of the villages near the Adyar, the Marmalong Bridge perhaps laid the foundation stone for the city as it led to the emergence of the Mount Road, around which Chennai developed.
“It was only natural that a road followed after a bridge was built. The British built the Mount Road in the 1800s, around which the city grew. So, in a sense, the bridge led to the city’s birth and is very close to its heart,” Venkatesh adds.
However, the Marmalong only lives in our memories today. Where the arched bridge of Uscan once stood, a concrete replacement called the Maraimalai Adigal Bridge now exists. There are no traces of this Adyar-Armenian connect but for the last living relic – the plaque commemorating Uscan’s construction of the bridge.
With inscriptions in three ancient languages – Persian, Armenian and Latin, the Uscan plaque was established in memory of the great nation of Armenia and is a tribute to the people who helped build the city.
“The Armenian inscriptions are on the lower portion of the plaque. It can’t be read because the writing has faded with time and neglect,” according to Venkatesh.
Crusade to preserve the plaque
The neglected plaque stands near the Saidapet Metro construction site.
Displaced from its original site, the plaque faces the perils of urbanisation and is further threatened by the metro rail work that is underway.
Years of neglect and development in the area has buried the stone in layers of debris. In fact, the bottom of the stone has disappeared under the ground as the road levels have been rising every year due to re-carpeting, Venkatesh laments.
With the construction of the Saidapet Metro station underway, historians who are fighting to save the plague urge the CMRL to give the stone a place of honor in the metro station.
Highlighting the importance of preserving such relics, Venkatesh says, “The Armenians have contributed immensely to this city. I believe it is important to preserve all traces to this link. It is really unfortunate that while the Uscan stone stands neglected, another plaque at the Fourbeck Bridge is preserved by the Architectural Society of India,” he said.
A dedicated group of Chennai historians have launched a Facebook page “Retrieve Uscan Stone” to draw attention to the issue and save the plaque.
“The Saidapet Metro work is too close to the plaque. We have been urging the officials to move the relic to a better place, may be a museum or a memorial site. We just don’t want to lose a precious piece of the city’s history,” Venkatesh says hopefully.