The Stone of Destiny: What is the legendary stone that will play a crucial role in the coronation of King Charles III?
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What is the Stone of Destiny?
The Stone of Destiny, clach-na-cinneamhain, is also known as the Stone of Scone and is the ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy. It’s origins are unknown, as it has been used for centuries in the coronation of Scottish Royalty. It was kept at Scone Abbey, near Perth until it was stolen by English King Edward I in 1296. From then it was used for the English Kings and Queens.
The stone, which had remained in Westminster Abbey, was split in two after a bombing planned by the Suffragettes. The bomb, loaded with nuts and bolts was left next to the coronation chair in the Abbey, and when it went off, it took off part of the chair and split the stone in half. This wasn’t noticed until the 1950s, when it was stolen.
The 1950 heist
On Christmas day in 1950, four Scottish students – Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, Kay Matheson and Alan Stuart – removed the stone from Westminster Abbey in London, to bring it back home. In order to lie low after the theft, they buried the stone in a Kent field. The stone was repaired while back in Scotland and three months later, the stone appeared at the high altar of Arbroath Abbey.
The police in London, who had undertaken an unsuccessful search for the stone, were informed, and took the stone back to Westminster. There were rumours that the stone had been replicated, and the artefact that had returned to England was not in fact, the real one.
In 1996, 700 years after it had been stolen, the British Government announced the stone would return home. It was transported to Edinburgh Castle, and was kept in the Crown Room alongside the Scottish Crown Jewels. In 2020, the Scottish Government confirmed that it would soon be moved back to Perth where it would remain, though temporarily sent back to Westminster for the next coronation.