A little bit of the Assyrian Empire from ancient Babylon in a London garden

I don’t know about you but I’m the sort of person who always likes to go off exploring. If I see an open door or gate then I have to take a peek inside. I’ve seen some fascinating places by doing so and so far not got into serious trouble.

I was in London a week or two and near St. Pauls there is a rather innocuous looking door which was open. I had been hear before but very well remembered my initial curiosity a few years ago when I sneaked inside for the first time.

If you go inside then it takes you to something perhaps unexpected in the heart of old London, a secret garden.

On a day like that day it offered a wonderful cooling shade whilst in the winter it shelters against the wind and if you catch some sunshine then you can get a bit snug. There are even some covered areas for the rain and they also house some interesting artefacts including a bit of old Roman road.

This garden features in my Secret Gardens of the City of London book so I’d obviously spent some time there and without exception, I have always had the place to myself and I like a bit of peace and quiet in London, though recently everywhere has been peaceful and quiet.

Secret Gardens of the City of London Kindle Cover
Secret Gardens of the City of London Kindle Cover

One of the objects I’ve always meant to get to the bottom of is a curious looking old stone which featured what I thought my cuneiform script. I’ve always been too busy or simply distracted or forgotten about it to investigate it.

Having studied Middle-East history I was glad to find that the writing is in Cuneiform…. I mean how often do even history people see Cuneiform writing unless they work with them every day in museums or archaeological digs.

The lump of stone is actually a baked brick and it is from a 9th century BC Zigurrat in modern day Iraq. It was presented to Canon Mortlock, marking his work with novelist Agatha Christie and her husband, archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan and was found during his 1950-65 dig on the site.

The top view of the Cuneiform Brick

The brick bears the name of Shalmaneser who reigned from 859 to 824 BC. A zigurrat is type of ancient pyramid like building used for mainly religious purposes and Cuneiform was a writing script used in the ancient Near and Middle East originating in around 3400BC. Along with Egyptian hieroglyphs is one of the earliest known writing systems.

I’ve always wanted to visit a Ziggurat and now I still want to visit a more complete one 🙂 and a Zoroastrian fire temple! It’s little discoveries like this that keep getting me into mischief!

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
This entry was posted in history, Life, London, Religion and Faith, Travel, Ye Olde England Tours and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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