Friday, April 13, 2012

April 13: The Stone of Scone

Coronation Chair with Stone of Scone1951 The Stone of Scone (known in Gaelic as Lia Fail, 'the speaking stone'; aka the Coronation Stone and Stone of Destiny) was returned to Westminster Abbey, London, having been taken from there by Scottish nationalists on the previous Christmas Day. On this day, the odd-looking block was placed again amidst Westminster's fine decorations, directly beneath the English monarch's throne where it had incongruously sat for centuries.

The Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone, and the Coronation Stone, is a block of sandstone historically kept at the now-ruined abbey in Scone, near Perth, Scotland. It is also known as Jacob's Pillow and as the Tanist Stone.

In Celtic mythology, the Lia Fail was a magical stone brought to Ireland by the Tuatha de Danaan. When the rightful King of Ireland put his feet on it, the stone was said to roar in joy. This is believed to be the origin of the Stone of Destiny.
Traditionally, it is supposed to be the stone which Jacob used as a pillow. It was originally supposed to have been used as the Coronation Stone of the early Dalriada Scots when they lived in Ireland. When they invaded Caledonia, it is said to have been taken with them for that use. Certainly, since the time of Kenneth MacAlpin (Kenneth I; d. 858) at around 847, Scottish kings were seated upon the stone during their coronation ceremony. At this time the stone was situated at Scone, a few miles north of Perth.

From 1603, when James VI of Scotland became King of England, until the present day, the expropriated Scottish symbol has been used in the Westminster coronation of every single British monarch, and a few married ones. Many Scottish nationalists traditionally longed for the famous stone to be returned to its true home.

For all its emotional significance to so many people, the Stone of Scone, as it is most popularly called, isn't much to look at. It is a rather plain-looking block of rough-hewn, reddish sandstone measuring 66 cm (26") long, by 40 cm (16") wide, by 28 cm (11") high, and weighing 152 kg (336 lb). It has only one inscription, a Latin cross, which gives no clue as to the Stone's heritage.

Cambray, in his Monuments Celtiques, claimed to have seen the stone when it bore the prophetic Latin inscription ...


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