Previous page  
List of subjects |  Sources |  Feedback 

Share |

Discover in a free
daily email today's famous
history and birthdays

Enjoy the Famous Daily

The Stone of Scone

A rectangular slab of reddish-grey sandstone, known now as the Stone of Scone or Stone of Destiny, has a legendary status by at least the 9th century AD. It is probably brought at that time by Kenneth MacAlpin from somewhere in western Scotland to the Pictish royal site of Scone, to add weight to his own claim to rule both Scots and Picts.

The legend includes the detail that it is the stone used by Jacob for a pillar when he dreams of the ladder up to heaven (in Genesis). It is also believed to have been a coronation stone in Ireland before being brought over the water by the Scots of Dalriada.

The ritual significance of the stone is powerful enough to prompt Edward I to take it from Scotland in 1296 and to place it in his Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. All subsequence English monarchs have been crowned sitting on this throne.

For the same powerful reasons the Stone is stolen from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Eve 1950, as a gesture of Scottish nationalism by four students from Glasgow university (it is returned to the abbey in 1952). Its symbolic power is again demonstrated in 1996, exactly seven centuries after its removal from Scotland, when the prime minister, John Major, hoping perhaps to curry favour with the Scots, returns the stone to its country of origin.

Previous page