Sitting beside the magnificent Crown Jewels of Scotland, in the little palace in Edinburgh Castle, is a simple but ancient block of sandstone. Most visitors have heard its name long before they lay eyes on it. For some, it comes as something of an anti-climax. But for many Scottish people it holds great significance. It is the Stone of Destiny, also known in some quarters as the Stone of Scone. Scottish kings were crowned sitting on this stone as far back as the ninth century. Quite simply, along with the Crown Jewels, it demonstrates what an ancient country Scotland is.
Like anything old and interesting, myths, legends and conspiracy stories abound.
The Biblical connection is not given much prominence these days. Some claim it was brought from the Holy Land. Not only that but it is the same stone that Jacob once laid his head upon and dreamt of his very own ‘Stairway to Heaven’. This version refers to the stone as ‘Jacob’s Pillow’ and variations suggest it arrived in Scotland from Israel via Ireland.
Kenneth Mac Alpin – seen by many as the first King of an embryonic Scotland – is generally credited with bringing the Stone of Destiny to Scone, near Perth. Along with nearby Dunkeld, these two sites formed the twin-centre capital of his new Kingdom from AD834 onwards.
Successive Scottish Kings continued to be crowned on the Stone of Destiny at Moot Hill at Scone until disaster struck in 1296. Edward I, King of England and later styled ‘Hammer of the Scots’, recognising the significance of it to the Scottish Nation, stole the stone as a spoil of war and took it in triumph to Westminster Abbey. One conspiracy theory suggests the monks of Scone Abbey, as custodians of the stone and recognising King Edward’s interest in it, substituted an alternative and the wrong one was taken to London. On this basis, the true Stone of Destiny has never left Scotland. A copy of it stands today on Moot Hill and visitors to Scone Palace can re-enact the crowning ceremony for themselves.
But that’s not where the Stone’s story ends – our next blog will reveal the next chapter. If you can’t wait for that then come and visit the Stone of Destiny for yourself. Our walking tour visits Edinburgh Castle everyday where you can view the stone on display.