Fact of the day: 3rd July

On this day in 1996 the Stone of Scone was returned to Scotland.

The Stone of Scone also known as the Stone of Destiny and often referred to in England as The Coronation Stone, is an oblong block of red sandstone, used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland and later the monarchs of England and the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

Historically, the artefact was kept at the now-ruined Scone Abbey in Scone, near Perth, Scotland.

It is also known as Jacob’s Pillow Stone and the Tanist Stone, and in Scottish Gaelic clach-na-cinneamhain.

Its size is about 26 inches (660 mm) by 16.75 inches (425 mm) by 10.5 inches (270 mm) and its weight is approximately 336 pounds (152 kg).

The top bears chisel-marks.  At each end of the stone is an iron ring, apparently intended to make transport easier.

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The Stone of Scone was last used in 1953 for the coronation of Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

In 1996, in a symbolic response to growing dissatisfaction among Scots at the prevailing constitutional settlement, the British Conservative Government decided that the Stone should be kept in Scotland when not in use at coronations.

On 3 July 1996 it was announced in the House of Commons that the Stone would be returned to Scotland, and on 15 November 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, arriving on 30 November 1996, where it remains along with the crown jewels of Scotland (the Honours of Scotland) in the Crown Room.

The handover was done on St Andrew’s Day (patron Saint of Scotland); the Queen sent as her representative Prince Andrew. Provision has been made to transport the stone to Westminster Abbey when it is required there for future coronation ceremonies.

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