After a rocky journey, the Stone of Scone, or Stone of Destiny, has finally been returned to Scotland. The stone is physically only a block of sandstone, measuring 26 inches long and 16 inches wide and weighing 336 pounds. But it's not just a stone: Revered for centuries as a holy relic, it allegedly came from the Middle East, and in biblical times Jacob is said to have used the stone as a pillow.
The stone was used at Dunadd, Iona, and Dunstaffnage for enthroning the Dalriada Irish Monarchs, called Scots. Later it was moved to Scone, and in 1292 John Balliol became the last king to be crowned on the stone in Scotland. So powerful was its legend that Edward I took it to England in 1296, believing possession of the stone gave him sovereignty over Scotland. There it stayed, under the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey. In 1328, the Treaty of Northampton, recognizing Scotland's independence, returned the stone to Scotland, but the English reneged on the promise and the stone never moved from Westminster Abbey.
On Christmas Day 1950, the stone was taken from the abbey by a group of Scottish Nationalists. No one knows where it went then, but it was found about 4 months later in Arbroath Abbey and returned to Westminster. A rumor spread that the found stone was actually a replica and that the replica was carted back to London, but this has never been proved.
In 1996, the Stone of Destiny left Westminster Abbey by Land Rover, crossing from England into Scotland at the border town of Coldstream, where a small but moving ceremony was held. On November 30 of that year, the stone proceeded with pomp and circumstance up the Royal Mile in Edinburgh to its permanent home beside the Scottish Crown Jewels in Edinburgh Castle, where you can see it today.
Scots hailed the return of the stone after 700 years in English captivity. Yet not all are pleased with the return of the stone. Some have denounced it as a "cheap political ploy," especially as the queen claims she's "lending" it to her Scottish subjects -- the idea is that after 7 centuries, possession is nine-tenths of the law, and it can be called back to London for a future coronation.
Some Scots want to see the stone returned to Scone. "Edinburgh has no claim, legally, morally, or whatever, to the Stone of Scone," said Andrew R. Robinson, administrator of Scone Castle. "It's not called the Stone of Edinburgh, is it?"
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.