Cleopatra's Needle, Victoria Embankment, Westminster, Greater London

Cleopatra's Needle, Victoria Embankment, Westminster, Greater London
Photograph taken 12th September 1878 © Reproduced by permission of Historic England Archive ref: BB71/01648

This Egyptian obelisk was originally one of a pair. they stood in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis. They were put up on the orders of Thutmose III around 1450 BC. The inscriptions were added about 200 years later by Ramses II to commemorate his military victories. Both obelisks were moved to Alexandria by the Romans in 12BC where they were toppled and remained partially buried. The London obelisk was presented to the United Kingdom in 1819 to commemorate Nelson's victories. 60 years later it was towed to Britain on an iron barge pulled by a steam ship. It was set in position on 12th September 1878 and people flocked to watch the tricky operation using new technology.