The Saxon princess-abbess-saint Frideswide was not the founder of Oxford: there was certainly a settlement at the confluence of the Cherwell and the Thames well before her time. But she has a claim to be one of the founders of the idea of Oxford, the notion of the city as a nexus of learning, religion, and occasional miracles.
My last post was about the effects of Victorian railway construction on a London churchyard. The present day High Speed 2 (HS2) railway project is a twenty-first century counterpart, carving a route through several hundred miles of rural England. And on this route are three burial grounds containing 30,000 graves, all of whose occupants will have to be exhumed and reburied elsewhere.
Quite when or why stones became associated with the coronation of monarchs may be impossible to know. According to the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, in pre-Christian Europe ‘the king or ruler, upon his election, was raised on a shield, and, standing upon it, was borne on the shoulders of certain of the chief men of the tribe, or nation, round the assembled people. This was called the gyratio, and it was usually performed three times’.