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Stone of Scone

Poster: "Hinson, Jerome" <hinson.msalan3@mhs.unc.edu>

Reprinted from Renaissance Magazine, Vol. 1, #4, Issue #4, Fall 1996

England's Coronation "Stone of Destiny" Returned to Scotland
by Kim Guarnaccia & Ian Kerr

     On July 3, 1996, England's Prime Minister John Major announced that 
the Stone of Destiny - currently located in Westminster Abbey - was to be 
returned to Scotland and that the British monarchy's "ownership" would 
not be affected.

     The Stone of Destiny (or the Stone of Scone) is the ancient Scots' 
coronation stone.  Legend had it that it was Jacob's Pillow which the 
crusaders brought from Palestine to Ireland where it was presented to St. 
Columba on Iona.  Later, it came to rest at Scone Abbey in 
Perthshire,Scotland.  During King Edward I of England's unsuccessful 
campaign against Scotland in 1296, the Stone was seized and brought to 
Westminster Abbey.  There it was built into the chair that the British 
monarchy uses for coronations to this day.

     In 1950 the Stone was stolen from the Abbey by a group of Scotish 
Nationalist students.  They were persuaded to surrender the Stone in 
early 1951 - however, they accidently broke the Stone in transit and had 
it repaired by stone mason Billie Gray.  Tests conducted by the British 
Government verified its authenticity, rebutting Gray's claims that he 
made a copy when repairing the original.

     However, research by amateur historian Archie McKerracher suggest 
that the Westminster stone is an ordinary piece of Perthshire sandstone 
rather than the shaped, possibly engraved, and polished rock said to have 
been brought to Scotland from the Holy Land via ireland.  Additionally, 
the seals of Kings Alexander I and William the Lyon in the 12th century 
show them seated on an altar-like block with a hollowed out seat with 
their feet resting on the ground, far larger than the Westminster stone.

     Regardless of all the controversy, Parliment has suggested that the 
stone be returned to Scone Abbey (now ruins and part of a private home), 
St. Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle, or Abroath Abbey.  But other 
sites are also being considered.

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