The Stone of Scone (pronounced Scoon) is also know as The Stone of Destiny, Lia Fail, The Fatal Stone, The Wonderful Stone, The Tanist Stone, The Speaking Stone and the Coronation Stone. In Gaelic it is known as “An Clach” “The Stone”

Kings Edward (Longshanks) I of England stole the Coronation Stone from Scone Abbey in 1296 and took it to London. It was recently returned to Scotland in 1996 and now resides in Edinburgh Castle.

The Stone has an obscure history. Traditionally it is said to have been the Hebrew Patriarch Jacob's pillow when he had the vision Bethel in Palestine. Another legend has it that it was taken to Ireland by Scotia, daughter of an Egyptian Pharaoh or Hebrew King.

The royal stone was then brought from Antrim to Argyll and then to Scone by Kenneth MacAlpin, the 36th King of Dalriada in Ireland/Scotland. It has now been in use for the crowning of Scots monarchs for more than 1000 years, thus fulfilling an ancient prophecy:

The Stone of Scone returned to Scotland.

In 1296 the Stone was captured by Edward I (Longshanks) as spoils of war and taken to Westminster Abbey, where it was placed under the Coronation Chair, known as St. Edward's Chair on which English sovereigns sat in order to symbolise their dominion over Scotland as well as England. (Edward always fancied himself as the true successor of King Arthur I son of Magnus Maximus (Mascen Wledig) and his descendant, Arthur II King of Glamorgan in Wales, and he thought that the capture of the Stone of Scone would legitimise this).

This had been the dream of Saxon and English kings since the the Battle of Anthelstaneford. The East Lothian village of Athelstaneford is the birthplace of the Saltire, better known as Scotland's national flag. A flag heritage centre commemorates and discusses the development of the legendary white cross on the blue background, which was seen in the sky - a cloud forming a diagonal cross on the blue background of the sky. (This phenomenon is a natural occurrence in this area). This was where the Scots and Picts defeated the Angles and Saxons under Athelstan, who invaded Scotland in 832AD. (the Scottish Flag is the oldest Flag in the British Commonwealth).

However, there is some doubt whether Edward I captured the real stone - it has been suggested that monks at Scone Palace hid the real Stone in the River Tay or buried it on Dunsinane Hill. If so, it is possible that the English troops were fooled into taking the wrong stone, which could explain why historic descriptions of the old Stone do not apparently fit the Stone now thought to be the real Stone. If the Monks did hide the real stone, they hid it well, as it has never been found (although the Knights Templar claim to have the original stone in their possession).

In 1328, as part of the peace treaty between Scotland and England known as the Treaty of Northampton, Edward III agreed to return the captured Stone to Scotland. However this was never done.

"British, Scottish, English and Irish records of the Stone of Destiny locate it at Tara, Ireland (some five centuries before Christ), from where it was transported to Scotland in circa A.D. 498 by Fergus the Great. From there it was taken to Iona circa A.D. 563; then to Dunstaffnage from where it was removed to Scone, near Perth, Scotland. Finally it was moved, by Edward I, to Westminster Abbey, London in A.D. 1296. Thus, from Tara to Westminster, covering over 1800 years of history, it was never carried to any appreciable extent. The mere removal from these places could not account for the wearing away of the Stone that was evidently caused by the friction of a pole used in constant carrying. This must have been the result of many months of continuous carrying, prior to its arrival in Tara. The story of its journeying from Bethel, in the time of Jacob, and its accompanying the children of Israel in the Wilderness, would account for its present condition.

On Christmas Day, 1950, a group of four patriotic students (Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, Kay Matheson and Alan Stuart) decided to appropriate the Stone from Westminster Abbey and return it to Scotland. In the process, they dropped it and it broke into two pieces. After hiding the stone in Kent for a few weeks, they risked the road blocks on the border and returned to Scotland with the Stone, which they had hidden in the back of a borrowed car. The Stone was then passed to a senior Glasgow politician who arranged for it to be professionally repaired and securely hidden. A major search for the stone was ordered by the British Government, but this proved unsuccessful. In early April, the Scots, assuming that the Government would finally bow to Scottish public opinion and not return the Stone to England, symbolically left it in the safe keeping of the Church of Scotland, on the altar of Arbroath Abbey on April 11, 1951. But once the London police were informed of its whereabouts, the Stone was unceremoniously rushed back to Westminster, further damaging Anglo-Scottish relations. Afterwards, rumours circulated that copies had been made of the Stone, and that the returned Stone was not in fact the original.

In 1996 the British Government decided that the Stone should be returned to Scotland, and on November 15 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 where it remains. While the Stone is back in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle is the military headquarters of the British army in Scotland, and some Scots argued for the Stone to be kept in a less symbolic location. Provision has been made to use the stone at Westminster Abbey when it is required there for future coronation ceremonies.