Stone of Destiny? King Charles' coronation will see him sit on what's probably a medieval cludgie cover – Susan Morrison

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Nessie has left us. The iconic long neck and humps were spotted off the coast of Somerset basking in the English sun, bobbing about beside Clevedon’s Victorian pier.

This could be disastrous. If Nessie has upped sticks and abandoned her freshwater home for a life on the ocean wave, she’s torpedoed the tourist industry. What will happen to the competing Loch Ness Monster visitor and experience centres of Drumnadrochit?

We could cover it up, of course. Get a mini-submarine and stick a fake Nessie on top. Train a synchronised swimming team to breaststroke the length of the loch towing a couple of big airbags, or we could do what I suspect lochside natives did a long time ago. Just wait beside a gullible tourist until the fickle winds blow unusual ripples on the water and scream “Did ye see that, pal? You just missed the monster!” Essentially, we pranked ourselves a tourist industry.

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Scots are dedicated to pranking the world. We’re really good at it. We don’t have the weather to entice tourists to our shores, so we need other lures and attractions. Myths, legends and ghost stories. We make stuff up.

Nessie is not the only part of Scotland’s rich imagination to be going on a wee trip. The coronation looms. The Stone of Destiny is required at Westminster, but they do promise they’ll bring it back quicker this time.

Ah, we’re such pranksters. They’re still falling for this one. Oh, no doubt there was a big dod of stone at Scone to sit the kings on for the crowning, but it probably wasn’t this one.

Jacob, it was said, had brought the stone from the Holy Land and used it as a pillow. A weird choice for a weary traveller’s comfort, I always thought. Surely he had a spare blanket he could have rolled up? At least one chronicler says the Stone was metallic, smooth and recessed like a chair. That does sound pretty magical to me for coronation duties.

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It was so sacred they kept it in a monastery. One day the monks hear that Edward Longshanks is heading roughly up the route of the A9 with a very big army. They’ll arrive in a few days, depending on the traffic. Plenty of time to tell Brother Fergus and the boys to start Operation Sacred Stone Stash ‘n’ Swap.

The Stone of Destiny in the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle. Or is it? (Picture: PA)The Stone of Destiny in the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle. Or is it? (Picture: PA)
The Stone of Destiny in the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle. Or is it? (Picture: PA)

And I suspect that’s exactly what they did. The current stone doesn’t match the description. It didn’t originate in the Holy Land. Analysis reveals it to be very local sandstone. Some have suggested the two handles are on the stone so it could be lifted, and it could have been a cover for a drain, or a privy.

No doubt about it, that stone now is a historic artefact. A roll call of dynasties including Plantagenets, Stuarts, Hanovarians and Windsors have been crowned and anointed whilst sitting on a huge chunk of looted Scottish sandstone. For that alone, it’s worth the brand-spanking new visitor centre in Perth.

When the crown lands on the new king's head, I hope that somewhere in the Great Beyond a chorus of ghostly monks hoot “Fergus, come and see this! Here’s another one sitting on the cludgie cover you gave to Eddie I! They never caught on!”

We love a prank, us Scots.

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