The Stone of Destiny has played a central role in the coronation of Scottish kings.
Like most Scottish national icons, the origins of the Stone of Destiny, also commonly known as the Stone of Scone, have been lost in the mists of time and subject to several legends.
One theory grants it biblical origins, while others have it produced in various parts of Ireland and Scotland. However it seems that the Stone was used at Iona, Dunadd, Dunstaffnage and Scone for enthroning Scottish monarchs.
Despite its plain and unremarkable appearance, this block of sandstone has had a turbulent history, having been fought over, hidden and captured for over 700 years.
In 1292 John Balliol became the last king to use the Stone of Destiny in Scotland as it was captured by Edward I of England in 1296 and taken to Westminster Abbey in London. It remained under the coronation chair, on which English and subsequently British sovereigns sit during their coronation, for the next 700 years. The last time it was used was at the coronation of HM The Queen in 1953.
On Christmas Day 1950, four nationalist students removed the Stone from Westminster Abbey and drove it north. It resurfaced some four months later following a huge public outcry, having been left symbolically in Arbroath Abbey, draped in a Saltire. It was taken by the police and restored to Westminster Abbey.
On St Andrews Day, 30 November 1996, the Stone of Destiny finally returned to its homeland amid much ceremony, and was installed in Edinburgh Castle, taking its place alongside the Honours of Scotland, the country’s crown jewels. About 10,000 people lined the Royal Mile to watch the procession of dignitaries and troops escort the stone from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to the castle.
You can see the Stone of Destiny and the Honours of Scotland for yourself at Edinburgh Castle or you can see the replica of the stone that sits in the grounds of Scone Palace in Perthshire.