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Tour Scone Palace In Beautiful Perthshire

Scone Palace

Located 1 miles North of Perth and 2 miles West of New Scone, Scone Palace is the family home of the Earls of Mansfield. Despite its historic setting, the Palace we see today was only built in 1802 by English architect William Atkinson, who went on to create Abbotsford for Sir Walter Scott.

Originally the site of a 6th Century Celtic church, replaced in the 12th Century by an Augustinian Abbey and a Bishop's Palace which provided lodgings for the Kings of Scotland. Both Palace and Abbey were destroyed in 1559 by a Perth mob, incited by a sermon by John Knox (1505-72), and the lands passed to the Earl of Gowrie, who built a new house. However, after the Gowrie Conspiracy (1600), an attempt to kidnap James VI (1566-1625), the estates were forfeit and given to Sir David Murray (1604), who was also created Lord Scone, in return for his loyalty to James.

Murray built a new Palace in 1618 and it was here that Charles II (1630-85) stayed before being the last King crowned on Moot Hill in the palace grounds (1651), where Kings had been crowned since the time of Kenneth MacAlpin (d.858). Other visitors included the Old Pretender (1715) and his son Bonnie Prince Charlie (1745). Murray's descendants became the Viscounts Stormont (1602) and then Earls of Mansfield (1776). The 1st Earl spent his time in London and the 2nd Earl found the old palace too damp. Thus it was David Murray, becoming the 3rd Earl at only 19, who commissioned the rebuilding of the palace as the splendid castellated gothic edifice in red sandstone which we see today. It houses fine collections of furniture, paintings, ivory and porcelain, together with historically-important royal heirlooms belonging to James VI and his mother Mary.

The fine grounds include a fir tree planted in 1825 from seeds sent back by botanist David Douglas (1799-1834), who had been a gardener at the palace and ruins of the historic village of Scone, dismantled to permit a larger estate around the new palace in 1805.

Stone of Destiny

The Stone is 26 inches long, 16 inches wide and 11 inches high (660 x 400 x 280mm) and it weighs 336 lbs (2.5kgs). It is sandstone although some believe that the Stone in Westminster may be quarried in Oban or Perthshire.

The Stone, it is claimed, ws the pillow on which Jacob had his biblical dream about agels and the stairway to heaven. It is believed to have been brought to Ireland by Phoenician traders escaping religious persecution. Later taken by the Irish Dalriada to Scotland to install Monarchs of this territory at Iona, Dunadd and later Dunstaffrage. Kenneth McAlpine finally brought the Stone to Scone. Its importance as a symbol of Scottish Monarchs was not overlooked by the English who stole the Stone in 1296 and took it to Westminster. Although many believe that the Stone was replaced by a copy during this period to fool the invaders.

The Stone was slung under the Coronation Throne in Westminster and incorporated into the English and later British Crowning Ceremony of Kings. John Balliol the last King enthroned in Scotland in 1292.

Although the Treaty of Northampton 1328 guaranteed its return it was not until 1950 that the Stone was returned to Scottish soil. A group of 4 Glasgow University students led by Ian Hamilton QC crept into Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day in 1950 and removed the stone from the Abbey and returned to Scotland. The Stone remained at large for about 4 months prompting the largest man/stone hunt by the Police in the United Kingdoms History. Not only did the authorities fear the rising passions of the Scottish nation but the King was gravely ill and Princess Elizabeth faced the prospect of being the only Monarch in 800 years of Scotland not to be crowned on the Stone. It was finally recovered after a secret arrangement and the Stone was left at Arbroath Abbey.

The great debate still remains as to the exact whereabouts of the true Stone. Is it in Iona, Arbroath, or Westminster? Did the nationalists during the 1950's construct 3 replicas as has been suggested? They did have the ability as one of the conspirators was a master mason. The Stone was found to have been broken when removed in the 1950's due to a grenade attack by suffragettes. The conspirators had said they repaired the Stone with a copper pipe in which they enclosed a copy of the Declaration of Arbroath.

On St Andrews Day (30 November) 1996, 700 years after it was first stolen by the English, it was finally returned to Scotland. It now sits in Edinburgh Castle, alongside the Crown Jewels of Scotland - or does it?

If you would like to visit this area as part of a highly personalized small group tour of my native Scotland please e-mail me:

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