In my work on the National Memorial Arboretum (discussed in blog entries here, here, here and here), I’ve discussed the mnemonic power of translated stones in modern British commemorative practice. For example, the translation of stone from the Falkland Islands has been deployed to connect conflict, place and power in the British Isles as discussed here.
Recently, I was at the Royal Armouries at Leeds to speak at a conference about the Staffordshire Hoard. The museum has been home of the UK’s National Collection of Arms and Armour, opened in 1996. The museum is split between Leeds, the Tower of London and Fort Nelson.
In the 1990s, it was clearly seen as important for a part of the Tower of London – the original home of the collection and the Norman symbol of supremacy – to be brought north with the museum to symbolise the move. In other words, the Leeds Dock building is ‘fortified’ as an armoury with a single cuboid block of stone, incorporated into its modern indefensible walls. This is part of a commemorative space on the side of the building, with gild-inlaid text commemorating the museum and explaining the significance of the stone. The stone dedicates and commemorates for all to see.