quoin-stone n. any of the stones used to form a quoin - fr. Coin. French coin wedge, corner; also die for stamping money or medals; ‘also, a coyne, or stamp, vpon a piece’ (Cotgrave). (So called, because the die had the form or action of a wedge.) French coin ‘wedge’, in Old French also coing, cuigne = Provençal cunh, conh, Spanish cuño, Portuguese cunho, Italian conio < Latin cuneum (nominative -us) wedge. Godefroy has also Anglo-Norman coigne (feminine), the ‘coin’ with which money is struck, and coined money.
Formerly spelt indifferently coin, coign, quoin (with many variations); but the spelling coin, though still occasional in all senses, is now appropriated to the sense ‘money’; in the senses ‘wedge’, ‘corner-stone’, etc., the spelling is generally, though not always, quoin n.; coign n. is retained in the Shaksperian phrase ‘coign of vantage’, and is occasional in that of ‘wedge’....
- 1: a stone forming a part of a corner or angle in a wall; specifically : such a stone laid at a formal ceremony
The cornerstone (or foundation stone) concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.
Over time a cornerstone became a ceremonial masonry stone, or replica, set in a prominent location on the outside of a building, with an inscription on the stone indicating the construction dates of the building and the names of architect, builder and other significant individuals. The rite of laying a cornerstone is an important cultural component of eastern architecture and metaphorically in sacred architecture generally.
Some cornerstones include time capsules from the time a particular building was built. The origins of this tradition are vague but its presence in Judeo-Christian countries can be associated with one quotation from the Old Testament (Psalm 118:22) cited six times in the New Testament (Matthew 21:42,Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Peter 2:7).