Brutus of Troy, London
The story of Brutus of Troy belongs to a strand of British lore and legend that may be seen as our desire to validate our history by associating it with the ancients and with early Christianity – take for example the Glastonbury Thorn ; and the idea that Jesus Christ visited in a Phoenician ship (“And did those feet” etc). But who hearing it is not tempted to wonder if it holds a grain of truth - could Trojan exiles have found their way to these shores?
Brutus was the grandson, or possibly great-grandson, of Aeneas of Troy who when that city fell escaped to Italy, founding a forerunner of Rome. After accidentally killing his father Brutus was forced to leave Italy. He travelled far and wide, at one point settling in Gaul with other exiled Trojans. A misunderstanding led to a brief war with the Gauls, and the Trojans departed, crossing the Channel to land on what with some twisting of vowels they named Britain, after Brutus.
Totnes lays claim to being the place where Brutus and his cohort landed, a stone in Fore Street there commemorating this. After various travails – including a war with the giants who inhabited the island, and wrestling their leaders Gog and Magog – Brutus founded a city on the Thames , which became London. The London Stone in Cannon Street is another part of the legend, said in some versions to have come from Troy and to have been an altar stone for a temple where St Paul’s now stands. An extension to the story is that Corineus, the warrior who provoked the war in Gaul, went his own way and founded what became Cornwall , named after him.
As is the way of these things the London Stone has also been associated with the legend of King Arthur , said to be the stone from which he drew Excalibur.
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