Scone Palace and the Stone of Destiny

First of all it is not said as the baked variety but pronounced as “Scoon” and it is on this site that the Kings of Scotland were crowned.  The first being Kenneth Macalpin in around 840AD. We had wanted to visit this Palace just outside Perth since we first came to Scotland and today was the day. £12 each gave us entry to the Palace, the gardens and maze. Yet again, a bargain day out especially if you love places steeped in history. It is also the only place we have ever seen a white peacock. Often mistaken for an albino peacock they are in fact the same as the blue peacock just slightly genetically different.

There are differing stores to be told about the Palace and the Stone so each needs to be told separately.

Scone Palace

The Palace sits above the River Tay and overlooks the routes north to the Highlands and east through Strathmore to the coast.  The palace is one the site of the former Scone Abbey or Priory (built around 1100) but the building seen today dates back to 1807 when the whole building was remodelled. It is the private residence of the Earl of Mansfield so only certain rooms are open to the public. There is a self guided tour around some of the rooms including the Dining Room, the Long Gallery where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert witnessed a curling demonstration on the polished wooden floor in 1842, and Queen Victoria‘s suite of rooms prepared for her stay at Scone. There are also a couple of gift shops and a coffee shop.

Moot Hill

In some ways the interesting bits are outside the palace. On a raised area of ground known as Moot Hill stands a small chapel which is used as a family mausoleum.

Scone Palace Chapel

Moot Hills are gathering places and there seems to be a variety of explanations as to here the named Moot comes from. Some say moot comes from Motte as in a Motte and Bailey Castle but a more romantic suggestion is that it comes from the word boot. In a time when it was a long a dangerous journey for future Kings to travel and visit every corner of Scotland to pass laws and be acknowledge as King. So the heads of the various clans travelled to Scone and brought soil of their home area in their boots. They emptied the soil onto the hill. Could this be where the name came from?

Scone Palace Moot Hill

The Stone of Destiny

Otherwise known as The Stone of Scone. Loving a conspiracy story as I, the whole story was right up my street. The Stone has been used from coronations since 840 AD in Scotland. In 1296 Edward I of England invaded Scotland and moved the stone to London. There, at Westminster Abbey in 1307 he had a special throne called the Coronation Chair built so the stone fitted under it. A symbolic move to show that Kings of England would also be crowned as Kings of Scotland simultaneously and there it stayed until Christmas Day 1950 when, shock horror, it was stolen. Well I suppose I should say retrieved. Some would say that the English were the original thieves back in 1296.

The unbelievable story goes that four students from Glasgow to London. After a brief meeting in a tea shop they decided to make an immediate attempt to remove the stone from Westminster Abbey. One of them hid under a trolley in the Abbey but was caught by a security man. He was questioned then freed. The following day they did a bit more research on the shifts for the security men and then, in the middle of the night, three of the men, entered the chapel. They removed the stone and it broke into two pieces. They dragged the larger piece on a coat down the altar steps and the other smaller piece was taken out to their waiting car. The larger piece of stone was hidden in a field in Kent and the smaller piece taken to Rugby. When it was discovered that the Stone was missing, the border between Scotland and England was closed, the first time this had happened in over four hundred years.

Two weeks later, the friends retrieved both pieces of stone and brought them to Glasgow for a stonemason to mend. After a tip-off, one year later the Stone was found by the police in Arbroath Abbey and returned to Westminster Abbey. The friends confessed their crime but for sensitive political reasons were never prosecuted. The Stone was reset in the Coronation Chair for the crowning of the Queen one year later. In 1996, the British Government moved the Stone to Edinburgh Castle for safe-keeping on the condition that it be returned to Westminster for any future coronations. Some would say that this is the end of the story but there is one more twist in the tale.

There is some controversy over whether the Scots managed to hide the original Stone of Destiny before Edward I arrived and produce a replica. Descriptions of the Stone differ which add to this theory as well as the fact that geologists have proved that the stone that Edward I removed was quarried locally to Scone, whereas the original Stone was transported from Egypt. So is the one at Edinburgh Castle just a replica? Is the original one buried under the car park at Scone Palace? We will never know but here is a replica (of a replica?)

Stone of Scone palace

Scone and New Scone

There were a couple of walks around the parkland, kitchen gardens, etc of the estate. We decided to follow the Earl’s Walk which was about a 40 minute walk. It took us past an archway which was the original entrance to the Palace. The problem for the Earls was that the archway, which was only around 300 metres from the front of the palace, was the original main road through the village of Scone. Back in 1805 the Earl wanted more privacy so what did he do? Of course, he demolished the whole village and moved it 2km away from his view.

Scone Palace

The only visible reminders of the original village are the cemetery and the Mercat Cross (Market Cross).

Scone Palace

The Maze

The final point on our walk was the maze. It is in the shape of a star, the family emblem, and was planted in 1991 with a mixture of copper and green beech to resemble the Earl of Mansfield‘s family tartan. In the centre is a statue of a water nymph. Jonno being smart took a few minutes to look at the layout on a board before we entered and literally took us straight to the centre without making one wrong turn. Clever clogs.

Scone Palace

We had a great day out at the crowning place of Kings. One last gem I found was when we went to the coffee shop which is in the original servants’ dining room. There was another cafe next door which is obviously opened up during their busier months or when they have coach parties which is obviously the former kitchen for the palace. The cooking range which was probably used when Queen Victoria stayed was absolutely huge and I don’t think I would want to try and cook for a party of a hundred or so on it….. well maybe I could master beans on toast!

Scone Palace

Scone Palace
“How could we resist a selfie with this Scone Palace inspirational quote?”

13/06/2018

15 comments

  1. Great read, Jo! We’ve not visited Scone Castle yet but you better it’s now starred on our map after reading your post 😊 It looks like a real interesting day out, it was just fascinating reading about the Stone of Scone, I’d never heard of it! Thanks for sharing another great read!

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  2. What a beautiful place! I thought the photo of the peacock was stunning until I saw the two of you holding the slogan, that one is my favourite, xx

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  3. Absolutely fascinating. My better half knew the story well, sadly I’d never heard of it! Loved it and the idea of placing soil to form a hill. All the soils of Scotland in one place – a brilliant idea!

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  4. Good read Jo. Much better than the second half of England v Panama. Not as good as the first half though! Love the story of the stone. It’s quite likely that bloody thing never existed and was always just a good story.

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    • You crazy fool reading the blog rather than watching the footie! Even Jonno abandoned all things blog for the match. I now have a quest to find the original Stone of Destiny/Scone and claim a reward of some kind. I’m sure it is out there somewhere.

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  5. Excellent read! I am in love with Scotland and will definitely be checking out this location. May I ask how long you both have been travel blogging? Your site is great. Very clean and easy to navigate. Just starting out myself and still learning and growing regarding blogging. Keep up the great work!

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    • Glad you liked it…I have to reign (forgive the pun) in the history a bit especially when I am somewhere like Scone. We have been blogging since around May 2015 when we gave up on our 9-5 normal life. We are amateur bloggers compared to some but love recording our adventures.

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  6. What an interesting post, Jo. Scotland is my homeland and yet I’ve never visited this place. Love the story – and the intriguing mystery surrounding the Stone of Destiny – and I did watch a recent film about the stealing back of the stone by the brave students. Watch out for old stoons and scoones I say. Looks like you have fantastic weather there right now in the bonny homeland. Enjoy!

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