Stone of Scone

From Academic Kids

The Stone of Scone, more commonly known as the Stone of Destiny or the Coronation Stone (though the former name sometimes refers to Lia Fil) is a block of sandstone historically kept at the now-ruined abbey in Scone, near Perth. It is also known as Jacob's Pillow Stone, Jacob's Pillar Stone and as the Tanist Stone.


Tradition and history

Traditionally, it is supposed to be the stone which Jacob used as a pillow. It was originally supposed to have been used as the Coronation Stone of the early Dalriada Scots when they lived in Ireland. When they invaded Caledonia, it is said to have been taken with them for that use. Another theory states that the stone was actually the travelling altar used by St Columba in his missionary activities throughout what is now Scotland. Certainly, since the time of Kenneth Mac Alpin at around 847, Scottish kings were seated upon the stone during their coronation ceremony. At this time the stone was situated at Scone, a few miles north of Perth.

Westminster Abbey

Missing image
The Stone of Scone in the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey, 1855.

In 1296 the Stone was captured by Edward I as spoils of war and taken to Westminster Abbey, where it was placed under the Coronation Chair, known as St. Edward's Chair on which English sovereigns sat in order to symbolise their dominion over Scotland as well as England. However, there is some doubt whether Edward I captured the real stone — it has been suggested that monks at Scone Palace hid the real Stone in the River Tay or buried it on Dunsinane Hill. If so, it is possible that the English troops were fooled into taking the wrong stone, which could explain why historic descriptions of the old Stone do not apparently fit the Stone now thought to be the real Stone. If the Monks did hide the real stone, they hid it well, as it has never been found (although the Knights Templar claim to have the original stone in their possession).

In 1328, as part of the peace treaty between Scotland and England known as the Treaty of Northampton, Edward III agreed to return the captured Stone to Scotland. However this was never done.

Theft and damage

On Christmas Day 1950, a group of four Scottish students (Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, Kay Matheson and Alan Stuart) decided to appropriate the Stone from Westminster Abbey and return it to Scotland. In the process, they dropped it and it broke into two pieces. After hiding the stone in Kent for a few weeks, they risked the road blocks on the border and returned to Scotland with the Stone, which they had hidden in the back of a borrowed car. The Stone was then passed to a senior Glasgow politician who arranged for it to be professionally repaired by Glasgow Stonemason Robert Gray. A major search for the stone was ordered by the British Government, but this proved unsuccessful. In early April, the Scots, assuming that the Government would finally bow to Scottish public opinion and not return the Stone to England, symbolically left it in the safe keeping of the Church of Scotland, on the altar of Arbroath Abbey on April 11, 1951. But once the London police were informed of its whereabouts, the Stone was unceremoniously rushed back to Westminster, further damaging Anglo-Scottish relations. Afterwards, rumours circulated that copies had been made of the Stone, and that the returned Stone was not in fact the original.

Returned to Scotland

In 1996 the British Government decided that the Stone should be returned to Scotland, and on November 15 1996, after a handover ceremony at the Border between representatives of the Home Office and of the Scottish Office, it was transported to Edinburgh Castle where it remains. While the Stone is back in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle is the military headquarters of the British army in Scotland, and some Scots argued for the Stone to be kept in a less symbolic location. Provision has been made to use the stone at Westminster Abbey when it is required there for future coronation ceremonies.

See also


  • No Stone Unturned: The Story of the Stone of Destiny, Ian R. Hamilton, Victor Gollancz and also Funk and Wagnalls, 1952, 1953, hardcover, 191 pages, An account of the return of the stone to Scotland in 1950 (older, but more available, look on ABE)
  • Taking of the Stone of Destiny, Ian R. Hamilton, Seven Hills Book Distributors, 1992, hardcover, ISBN 0948403241 (modern reprint, but expensive)

External link

eo:Ŝtono de Scone fr:Pierre du destin it:Pietra di Scone ja:スクーンの石 sv:Stone of Scone


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