Tour Scotland
Home Page

Scone Palace

Crowning Place of Kings

At Scone there was an ancient Celtic monastery which had been there since the 6th century. The Culdees, who were travelling preachers and followers of St. Columba, had established it. In the year 1114 it was superseded by a monastery, founded by King Alexander I and his queen, Sibilla, in gratitude for the King’s escape from enemies.
We are told: “Alexander I had at his christening, by the donation of his uncle, Donald Bane, Earle of Gowrie, the lands of Life and Envergowrey.... He began then to build a stately palace.. . but was interrupted by the rebels. . . who beset him in the night, and had doubtless killed him, had not Alexander Carrone firmly carried the king safely away. . . and by a small boat saved themselves....
En thankful retribution to God he founded a monastery at Scone, dedicating it to the Holy Family and St. Michael; and to it he gave his first lands of Life and Invergowrey.”
This monastery introduced, for the first time in Scotland, “Canons Regular of the Order of St. Augustine”—who formed an independent priory that became an abbey in 1162. The new abbey apparently had “fishings” on Tay and Forth, and shares of the hides and cheese from the royal manors at Gowrie, Scone, Coupar. Longforgan and Strathardle; and the privilege of having a smith, a leather dresser and a shoemaker. The famous Stone of Destiny, used in coronation ceremonials of kings from Kenneth II to John Bailiol, was lodged in the Abbey Church. Reputed to have been Jacob’s pillow on the plains of Luz, it had been brought to Scone in the 9th century by Kenneth
MacAlpine, and there it remained until 1257, when it was removed to Westminster Abbey by Edward 1. A typical coronation ceremony in Scone Abbey was that of
Alexander III, on July 13, 1249. The Bishop of St. Andrews girded him with the belt of knighthood and explained the oaths to be taken by him and his subjects, at first in latin and then in Norman French, the language of the nobility. After this, the young king was led
to his seat on the coronation stone, which was placed before the cross in the church. The crown was put on Alexander’s head and the sceptre in his hand. He was then invested with the royal mantle, and the nobility present knelt in homage. Finally, a grey-haired Highland bard stepped forward and addressed a long genealogical recitation in the Gaelic tongue, beginning: “Hail Alexander, son of William, son of David. . .“ and
proceeded to trace the royal pedigree back to the legendary Gathelus, who married Scota, the daughter of a Pharaoh.

One of the strangest coronations at Scone was that of Robert the Bruce in 1306. After the king had been crowned, the Countess of Buchan appeared to claim her family’s hereditary right to place the crown on the king’s head. The claim was granted and the whole ceremony was repeated! In the Middle Ages the great law-making councils of the nation were held at Scone, and it became the custom to ring the great bell of the Abbey before the promulgation of new laws.

At the time of the Reformation, the dissolute Patrick Hepburn, who was said to have fathered nine bastards, was abbot of Scone. After Knox had delivered his inflammatory Reformation sermon in 1559, he at first contrived to preserve Scone Abbey from destruction
by a mob from Dundee. The next day, however, they returned, and this time one of their number was slain by a member of the Abbey staff. This so incensed his companions that they utterly destroyed the Bishop’s palace and the abbey. Knox comments: “So was that
abbey and palace appointed to sackage; (they) committed the whole to the merciment of fyre, whereat no small number of us were offendit.” Patrick Hepburn apparently managed to keep his position as abbot till 1567, when the Privy Council forbade tenants to make him further payments because he had assisted the Earl of Bothwell after the murder of Darnley. Such was the end of the first abbey in Scotland. The building had seen the rise and decay, and the reformation of Christianity. It had
seen, too, the waygoing of some 50 kings, having stood for 10 centuries.

Return To Perthshire History

Tour Scotland
Tour Edinburgh
Tour Island Of Skye

Rent A Self Catering Hoilday Cottage In Scotland

Share This Tour Scotland Web Page

Top Destinations
Tour Europe