Scottish History and Culture

Artist's Conception of the Stone of Scone, Click for larger image
"And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy Father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it." - Gen. 28:13-15, 18.

The Stone of Destiny is known by many names, Stone of Scone, Jacob's Pillow, the Coronation Stone, Jacob's Pillar and even the Liath Fail. Its history is the subject of great debate as would be the history of any item of such significance to people and religion. If all of the stories are to be believed, this 'Stone' had its beginning at the time of Jacob in the Bible. The concrete evidence on the stone is all fairly recent history when one considers that this item has been carried around for three millennia at least. In this case, it is probably best to work back in time from known facts to myth and legend.

The Stone of Scone is at Edinburgh Castle, click for larger imageThe current 'claimed' Stone of Scone, sits in Edinburgh Castle, on loan to the people it was taken from by the English. It is to remain on loan, unless the need arises to crown a new English King or Queen, after which it will be returned to the Scots. How did it get into the hands of the English? King Edward I took it from Scone, Scotland, after the English defeated the Scots in 1296. For the last 700 years the Stone has been part of the English monarchy's coronation chair.

Why did Edward I take the Stone? He took it because of its great importance to the Scots, as any king crowned on the Stone is considered to be the rightful ruler of their race. Thus Edward hoped to end forever any continued resistance by the Scots to English rule.

Some FACTS about the Stone of Scone

- It weighs 336 pounds (152 kg)
- It is a rectangular block of pale yellow sandstone
- Its origins are unknown, but it is believed to be from Scotland
- It measures 26 inches (66 cm) by 16 inches (41 cm) by 11 inches (28 cm).
- It is decorated with a Latin cross.

Is this the rightful or correct stone? It is hard to say, as many stories circulate on its validity to this day. In 1950 Scottish nationalists stole the stone in the coronation chair. It remained missing for quite a while, and at least one copy was made at this time. This 'copy' rests on display in Scone itself.

There are other stories that surround the actual capture of the Stone by the English in the 13th century. Some say the English were deceived and took another stone that was substituted for original. According to this theory, the real Stone was secreted off to an Abbey to remain hidden until needed again. Another story is quite humorous, and claims that the cover stone for the cesspit at Scone was substituted and the English are really sitting on a Coronation 'Throne'.

Still, the Irish say that the real stone still rests at Tara, and the one in England is a fake. The Irish you say? Yes, the Irish as the story of the Stone goes back very far in time. Although there is no current way to validate the entire story, it is necessary to discuss the legends of the Stone in order to grasp its real significance in religious history and to the peoples it has touched.

As mentioned in Genesis, originally Jacob used the stone as a pillow. While sleeping on it he received a vision from God, which claimed that his seed would spread across the Earth and rule as Kings until their return to the Promised Land. Jacob took the stone after awaking and anointed it with oil as a holy relic. For a time the stone rested in the temple at Jerusalem. In 602 BC, Jerusalem was sacked and destroyed by king Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. It is said that Jeremiah along with two daughters of King David's line escaped with the stone, and after a journey through Egypt, Sicily and Spain the Stone arrived in Ireland. The facts that the original Stone disappeared and the new stone appeared in Ireland soon afterwards lend credibility to this story. Another interesting fact that lends credibility is the Irish story of the Tuatha de Danann, when translated this apparently means the people of Danann. One of the 12 tribes of Israel was known as Dan.

Map of Scone, Scotland, click for larger imageIn Ireland, the stone was set up again as a Palladium (safeguard) of the race. Its name became the Liath Fail and many other close spellings are used. The kings of Ireland were crowned while sitting on the Stone and it is said that when the rightful king sat on the stone it would sing. The legends also say that the Stone had the power to rejuvenate the ruler that sat on it, allowing them to reign for a longer time. Time passed and the Stone eventually moved from its resting-place in Tara. There are two stories concerning this move that deserve mentioning. In one story, the Stone is loaned to Fergus Mor Mac Erc for his coronation in Scottish Dalriada and never was returned. In the other story, the King ordered a man killed in church. Because of this the Stone had to be moved as Tara and its King could no longer be considered holy. In either case, the Stone moved from Ireland to Scotia Minor around the early part of the sixth century AD.

In what eventually became Scotland, the Stone was moved on several occasions by the Scots, from Dunadd to Iona and eventually to Scone from where it gets its modern name. Again it remained as the Palladium of the race and was deemed sacred. All the Kings of the Scots were crowned on the Stone until the English took it in 1296. The only exceptions to this rule are in the cases of minority, as underage kings and queens are not crowned on the Stone. A bizarre twist to the story takes place after the English take the Stone though, for it is not long before the English kings and queens themselves are of the same blood line as the Scots.

It is hard to do justice to the Stone in such a short story, as the amount of information available on the subject is overwhelming. One story even mentions the Sword Excaliber, and says that the stone it was pulled from is the Stone of Destiny. Needless to say, this object, the Stone has great importance to not only the Scots but also the Irish, English and Israelites. It is said that Stone will one-day return to Israel ahead of a great mass of its people, and when it does, the Temple of Jerusalem will be rebuilt.

BW, January, 2000



The Stone of Destiny

Stone of Destiny

The Hill of Tara

The Stone of Destiny

Scone Palace

The Earl of Mansfield and Scone Palace

Thursday, December 26th, 2019

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