Old Scone, 3km (1 3/4 miles) from Perth on the River Tay, was the ancient capital of the Picts. The early Scottish monarchs were enthroned here on a lump of sandstone called the "Stone of Destiny." In 1296, Edward I, the "Hammer of the Scots," moved the stone to Westminster Abbey, and for hundreds of years it rested under the chair on which British monarchs were crowned. The Scots have always bitterly resented this theft, and at last, it has been returned to Scotland to find a permanent home in Edinburgh Castle, where it can be viewed by the public.
The seat of the earls of Mansfield and birthplace of David Douglas (of fir-tree fame), Scone Palace, along A93 (tel. 01738/552-300; www.scone-palace.co.uk), was largely rebuilt in 1802, incorporating the old palace of 1580. Inside is an impressive collection of French furniture, china, ivories, and 16th-century needlework, including bed hangings made by Mary Queen of Scots. A fine collection of rare conifers is found on the grounds in the Pinetum. Rhododendrons and azaleas grow profusely in the gardens and woodlands around the palace. To reach the palace, head northeast of Perth on A93. The site is open April 1 to October 31 only, daily from 9:30am to 5pm. Admission is £8.50 for adults, £7.30 for seniors, and £5.30 for children 16 and under. Admission to only the grounds is £4.80 for adults, £4.20 for seniors, and £3.20 for children.