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The Stone of Destiny – A Scottish Icon

This week we are focusing on a Scottish Icon  – The Stone of Destiny.

Sitting alongside the Honours of Scotland, (the oldest crown jewels in the British Isles) it may not be the most eye-catching object in the room in which it resides however, what it lacks in impact, it more than makes up for in history and myth. According to legend, Jacob, father of Joseph in the Old Testament, used the ancient stone as a pillow when he dreamt of a ladder to heaven. Others believe the Stone to have been created in various parts of Ireland and Scotland.

This block of sandstone has had a tempestuous history, having spent most of the last 700 years being hidden, captured and fought over. For centuries, it served as the seat on which Scottish kings were inaugurated at Scone near Perth. Today, a replica of the Stone sits in the grounds of Scone Palace.

In 1296, the ‘Hammer of the Scots’, Edward I of England had the stone forcibly removed and sent to London’s Westminster Abbey where it was enclosed within a new throne, the Coronation Chair, as pictured below.  Since then the Stone has been used in the coronation of English monarchs and from 1714 all the sovereigns of Great Britain (apart from Edward VIII, who was never crowned).

It remained at Westminster until, on Christmas Day 1950, four Scottish students removed the stone from the Abbey, accidently breaking it in to two in their haste. A nationwide hunt followed with the Scottish/English Border closed for the first time in 400 years. It resurfaced some four months later following a huge public outcry, discovered in Arbroath Abbey draped in a Saltire. It was soon returned to Westminster Abbey where, two years later, in 1953, it was used at the coronation of HM The Queen.

On St Andrews Day 1996, the Stone of Destiny finally returned to Scotland and its permanent home of Edinburgh Castle following John Major’s announcement to the House of Commons on 3 July that year. It will only ever leave Scotland again when there is a royal coronation at Westminster Abbey.

Keir Booth, Marketing Executive,

Edinburgh Castle


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